Volkswagen T-Roc SE review
The VW T-Roc SE is a good-value trim level that is well equipped for the price
The Volkswagen T-Roc was a bit late to the UK crossover market, but it has been a big hit and a strong seller for the firm. It is one of five Volkswagen SUVs that cater for every possible size requirement, and goes head-to-head with a wide range of cars from the Peugeot 2008, Toyota C-HR, Ford Puma, Nissan Juke to the Audi Q2, Mercedes GLA and MINI Countryman.
Based on the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf, the T-Roc is available in five different trim levels with a choice of up to five engines. With this amount of choice, the Volkswagen T-Roc can end up being expensive if you get tempted by the higher trim level models and more powerful engines but, with prices starting from around £25,000, the SE spec is our pick of the range.
SE adds some useful equipment over the entry-level S trim, without verging into the more expensive territory of the SEL and R-Line trims. Design spec, meanwhile, brings subtle styling upgrades and coloured accents, but you can save yourself some money if you can live without these cosmetic add-ons.
No T-Roc is sparsely equipped - the S spec gets an eight-inch touchscreen, DAB radio, Bluetooth, two-zone climate control, all-round electric windows and safety kit like lane-keeping assistance and emergency braking - but the SE adds a few extra luxuries without raising the price too much. SE cars offer front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control and heated door mirrors, climate control plus 17-inch alloy wheels that enhance the looks without making the ride uncomfortable. Sat nav isn’t included, but you can connect your phone via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, enabling you to use Waze and Google Maps via the car’s touchscreen.
There are plenty of options to choose from, and you can hike up the price with a few additional cost options. The Winter Pack (heated front seats and washer jets, plus a warning when your screenwash is running low) and the electric tailgate are commonly specified options priced at around £300 each, but you can also choose options like LED headlights, a reversing camera, automatic emergency services contact after a collision, high-beam assist and keyless entry.
SE spec is available with three of the five engine choices, and we tested the entry-level 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine with 113bhp. It might not sound particularly powerful, but it feels sprightly enough, and its 10.1 second 0-62mph time will be more than sufficient for most buyers. This engine is the only one that’s not available with an automatic gearbox, but that’s no hardship - the standard six-speed manual gearbox is slick and pleasant to use. It also returns 44.1mpg while emitting 118g/km of CO2, which are decent figures for an SUV.
Higher-mileage drivers may prefer one of the diesel options, with both returning around 50mpg. The more powerful petrol option is a 148bhp 1.5-litre engine which is equally as good to drive with only a slight drop in fuel economy, but adding almost £2,000 to the price.
Although few SUVs are aimed at keen drivers, the Volkswagen T-Roc is one of the best-driving crossovers you can buy. The steering is accurate and there’s minimal body roll through corners, which is helped by the fact that 1.0-litre engine is both small and light. You can specify larger alloy wheels, but we’d stick with the SE’s standard 17-inch wheels; the ride isn’t unnecessarily firm or jarring over potholes. There’s a little bit of wind noise at higher speeds, but it’s not overly intrusive.
While you don’t get the option of coloured interior trim as you do on the Design spec, the SE still has a lot to offer with a smart looking cabin. The standard-fit eight-inch touchscreen is quick and super easy to use, and the interior is laid out thoughtfully. Our only real gripe is that some of the plastics used in visible areas, such as the tops of the door panels, feel a little cheap.
The T-Roc isn’t the most practical SUV out there, but it does have a 445-litre boot which is still big enough for most families. Although we’d advise you to stick with the space-saver spare wheel as if you spec a full-sized spare wheel you will lose the dual-height boot floor reducing luggage space to 366 litres. There’s room for two adults in the rear seats, but no option for sliding adjustment like in the Volkswagen T-Cross. The middle rear seat is too narrow for a full-sized adult, and only really useful for shorter journeys, and not entirely suitable if you’re planning on carrying five passengers regularly.
Verdict - 4/5
The Volkswagen T-Roc is a desirable SUV that mixes good looks, safety, plenty of equipment as well as an engaging driving experience. If you don’t get swayed by the sportier looks and extra kit of the top-spec models, the T-Roc can be surprisingly good value. For most, SE spec with the 1.0-litre petrol engine will be the best version.