Volkswagen T-Roc SUV review
"The Volkswagen T-Roc looks good, drives well and offers plenty of space, but it's pricey and some rivals have a nicer interior"
- Easy to personalise
- Good to drive
- Interior quality issues
- Rivals offer better value
If you’re after a Volkswagen SUV but a T-Cross is too small and a Tiguan is too big, you’re in luck - the Volkswagen T-Roc is right in the middle of the two. It shares a lot of tech and engineering with the excellent VW Golf but with a stylish SUV body.
Direct rivals to the T-Roc include the Audi Q2, BMW X2 and Mercedes GLA but you could also consider models like the Nissan Juke and Mazda CX-30 as alternatives - all are attempting to grab the attention of buyers who want the practicality and looks of a small SUV.
To stand out from the crowd, each of these small SUVs has a distinctive look and the T-Roc is no exception. It features large LED daytime running lights below the headlights and plastic cladding over the wheel arches and around the door sills to give it a more rugged look. There are a wide range of paint options and you can also add a contrasting roof.
There are plenty of engines to choose from in the T-Roc, starting with the 109bhp 1.0-litre TSI petrol. This model is good enough for most and should be economical but there’s always the option of the 1.5-litre TSI with 148bhp or even the 187bhp 2.0-litre TSI range-topping model. This model has 4MOTION four-wheel drive and seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox and comes in high-spec trim levels only. There’s also the T-Roc R (reviewed separately), a performance version for keen drivers.
While the T-Roc feels well-suited to petrol power, there are some diesel options that will be good for long-distance driving. The range starts with the 2.0-litre TDI making 113bhp, though there’s a 148bhp version of this engine as well.
Trim levels go up from S through SE, Active, Design and SEL and end at the R-Line, which adds sporty looks reminiscent of the 296bhp T-Roc R (reviewed separately). You can also choose the Black Edition, which has some cosmetic upgrades.
Entry-level S trim brings a fairly decent level of standard equipment, including an eight-inch touchscreen display with DAB radio and Bluetooth, lane assist, dual-zone climate control and automatic headlights and wipers. The SE trim adds 17-inch alloys, roof rails, adaptive cruise control and front and rear parking sensors, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.
Active trim adds fog lights, heated seats, heated washer jets, traffic sign recognition, an electric boot door and an upgraded media system with traffic info for the sat nav, online services and 3D maps. Black Edition trim has things like black roof rails and alloys to make it stand out.
Step up to Design trim and besides different 17-inch alloys, you can begin to make the most of the T-Roc’s design by specifying contrasting roof colours, sporty bodywork additions and flashes of colour in the interior. SEL trim adds four-wheel drive to some engines, 18-inch alloys, LED headlights, an uprated infotainment system with sat nav and Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit Pro, which replaces traditional dials with a 10.3-inch TFT screen behind the steering wheel that can be customised to your liking.
A convertible Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet is also available, which can be specced in the Design and R-Line trims. We’ve reviewed it separately.
The T-Roc's greatest attraction has to be the way it drives. It's built on the same MQB platform as the Volkswagen Polo and many other cars from other brands within the VW Group, and therefore feels very un-SUV-like to drive, with a good balance between comfort and responsive steering and acceleration. Even the entry-level 1.0-litre TSI petrol is a pleasure to drive, which begs the question as to whether many will feel the thirsty range-topping 2.0-litre petrol is necessary.
Any T-Roc makes a genuinely enjoyable family car that isn't averse to a little adventure, while a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating proves that it has the strength its stocky looks suggest. Our pick is the 1.0-litre TSI petrol with a manual gearbox in Active trim; it offers a great blend of performance, low running costs and decent equipment, which makes it good value too.