T-Roc punches above it’s weight.
Volkswagen have joined the SUV party with the recent launch of the T-Roc, which sits between the Golf & the Tiguan in the VW range. At first glance, the T-Roc may look familiar & that’s because it shares its wheelbase & the widely used VW Group MQB platform with the Audi Q2. The Q2 wins hands down for interior quality, whilst the T-Roc is better looking & comes with more standard equipment for a lower price point.
With one body style on offer, customers can up-spec their T-Roc with a selection of eleven body colours & four contrasting bi-colour roof options. Exterior colour ways can be carried over to the interior finish, both on the dash & with a pair of stripes across the seat bottoms.
Customers can choose from three petrol engines, a 1.0 litre with 105 bhp, a 1.5 litre with 148bhp & a 2.0 litre with188bhp. Plus two diesel engines with a 1.6 litre offering 114bhp & a 2.0 litre offering 148bhp. As diesel popularity declines, it is the 1.0 & 1.5 litre petrol versions that are expected to be the best sellers, with the former the best priced to business lease. Four-wheel drive is also an option, as are auto gearboxes with some engines, but it will be the manual 2WD versions that will make pup the bulk of T-Roc sales.
Offered in five trim levels; S, SE, Design, SE L & R-Line, even the S model comes well equipped, with all models featuring an 8″ ‘Composition’ touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, DAB radio & USB connectivity. Safety wise, the S comes with Front Assist, featuring Pedestrian Protection & City Emergency Braking plus Lane Assist, whilst SE adds Adaptive Cruise Control & parking sensors. Design, SE L & R-Line also include Volkswagens Driver Alert System.
Size-wise, the T-Roc is 4,234mm long,1,879mm wide & 1,573 mm high, making it shorter than the Golf but both wider & taller. The T-Roc cleverly utilises it’s size & shape, to offer passengers better head & leg room than in the Golf & a larger boot too, with 445 litres compared to the 380 litres available in the Golf. Fold the 60:40 split rear seats down & the boot increases in size to a very useful 1290 litres. The boot floor can be raised & lowered offering a flat load lip or a deeper boot as required.
Step inside & the cabin & dashboard are logically laid out with the 8” touchscreen the highlight & located in the centre of the dash. We found the touchscreen system clear to the eye & simple to use. It comes flanked by touch sensitive buttons that are quick to react. Gesture control, i.e floating your hand over the screen, brings up a taskbar of icons on the bottom of the screen before you touch it, a useful & addictive set-up.
Connecting to Apple-Car-Play & the Bluetooth hands-free phone system were both quick & easy to do. A double USB socket in the centre bin in front of the gear lever helps connectivity & the electronic parking brake features a Hold system, which we found very useful in traffic. The buttons on the steering wheel, control the volume for the infotainment, allow you to select your media or radio station, go into vehicle settings & use the adaptive cruise control. You can also scroll through the functions on offer, so for example, you can choose to have your SatNav destination in front of you rather than on the screen.
Disappointingly, some of the plastics in the cabin, notably on top of the dash & on the interior doors, are not up to Volkswagens usual quality & there’s a distinct lack of soft-touch plastic in there. The seat fabric too, is not top notch either, although it does feel hard wearing. Corners have been cut.
We were driving 1.5 TSI petrol engine, which when we got out in it, was fun to drive, with the car’s steering light & responsive whilst on the move. The chassis is quite forgiving & offers up a comfortable ride, even in the rear, where some cars are let down by their concrete firmness.
Around town, the T-Roc is nippy when required, easy to park with good visibility. The 148bhp petrol engine is refined too, especially on the motorway. Set Adaptive Cruise Control & you can relax into your motorway journey as the T-Roc moves along quietly, with only some noticeable wind noise when you’re at 70 mph. This comes primarily from the wing mirrors.
I am still sticking up for diesels & from a business users perspective, the diesel’s do offer better fuel economy than their petrol rivals. However, on contract hire, the diesels are up to £100 per month more expensive to lease, than the 1.0 litre petrol SE, primarily because the diesel engines are only offered on the SEL & R-Line models. This pretty much takes the diesel version out of the equation & confirms that Volkswagen like many others are moving more in a petrol direction.
The 1.5 TSI feels brisk, with a top speed of 127mph & a 0-62mph time of 8.3 seconds. With emissions of 120g/km & a combined fuel economy of 53.3 mpg, from it’s Euro6 engine, it’s not that far behind the diesels either.
Interestingly, Mrs Walker has been looking at an SUV-type car, primarily for the more upright & better for your back driving position, but did not want to go as big as the Tiguan. She had the opportunity to drive the T-Roc we had on test & whilst I have been sceptical of some B-SUV’s, which don’t feel any different to their hatchback brethren when it comes to the driving position, I can categorically guarantee that in the T-Roc’s case, the driving position is higher & therefore more driver-friendly than in the Golf. So much so that the T-Roc is now top of her list when she comes to change her car later in the year.
From a real world point of view, the 1.5 TSI claimed combined full economy is 53.5 mpg. Out & about on a mixture of roads in urban, country & motorway, I drove my T-Roc for 400 miles averaging a respectable 40.2mpg. I’d expect the 1.0 litre petrol to achieve slightly more.
Overall, the T-Roc was a pleasant surprise. Whilst not physically looking that much larger than Golf, it most definitely offers customers more cabin space, easier access, a larger boot & cleaner looks than the Golf. It’s also more stylish, comes with a higher more comfortable driving position, all in a compact city-friendly package with a selection of on-trend colour combos to brighten up your day.
A Dwayne T-Roc Johnson 4/5.