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
Volkswagen likes to offer buyers a model covering almost every niche and the affordable VW T-Roc price means loyal fans of the brand can now get their hands on a compact SUV. It sits between the smaller Volkswagen T-Cross and the larger Volkswagen Tiguan in the range and shares a lot of its technology with the Volkswagen Golf family hatchback.
Arriving late to the party, the Volkswagen T-Roc has to steal customers from stalwarts like the Nissan Juke, while also taking on upmarket crossovers including the Audi Q2, BMW X2 and Mercedes GLA. But to consider the Volkswagen, buyers need to be convinced it offers a package the others can’t match.
Its looks should be a big tick, which is a large part of the battle won in such a style-conscious class. The T-Roc looks as solid as you’d expect a VW to, with a wide bonnet and grille, but there are some design flourishes, too. Large LED daytime running lights sit below the headlights and there’s a contrasting roof (available as an option), along with the choice of some bright paint colours. Black plastic cladding over the wheel arches and around the door sills also gives the T-Roc more rugged SUV-like looks.
There’s a wide range of petrol and diesel engines, starting with a peppy 1.0-litre TSI petrol producing 113bhp. If you want more a more powerful engine, there’s a 1.5-litre TSI with 148bhp or a range-topping 187bhp 2.0-litre TSI that has 4MOTION four-wheel drive and seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. If you plan on driving lots of miles – or just prefer diesel engines – there's a 2.0-litre TDI making 148bhp and a 113bhp 1.6-litre, but the former feels better suited to the T-Roc. The S, SE, Design and SEL trim levels all offer an incremental step up in luxury, while top-spec R-Line adds sporty looks reminiscent of the 296bhp Volkswagen T-Roc R (reviewed separately).
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.
Step up to Design trim and besides 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.
Standard equipment doesn’t increase dramatically until you reach SEL spec, which adds four-wheel drive to some engines, 18-inch alloys, LED headlights, an uprated infotainment system with sat nav and Volkswagen’s Active Info display, 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 response. 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 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.