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In-depth reviews

Volkswagen T-Roc SUV - Engines, drive & performance

Thanks to a large engine range, there’s a VW T-Roc to suit most buyers’ tastes and needs

Carbuyer Rating

3.8 out of 5

Owners Rating
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Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.0 out of 5

​As with the majority of Volkswagen models, there’s a T-Roc model to suit most tastes and budgets thanks to a wide range of petrol and diesel engines. The smaller petrols are likely to appeal to those with lower yearly mileages, while the larger diesels are more suited to higher-mileage use. Whichever you choose, a good balance of performance and economy is almost guaranteed thanks to the Volkswagen Group’s impressive engine technology.

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The T-Roc is a genuine pleasure to drive considering its SUV status. Show it a fast, challenging corner and the steering responds eagerly, allowing you to place the car on your chosen line, while the tyres grip strongly and there’s barely a trace of body lean. However, the MINI Countryman offers more steering feel and is generally more involving to drive than the T-Roc or Kia XCeed, but even the MINI struggles to match the sharpest of hatchbacks for driving fun.

As compact SUVs go, however, the T-Roc blends driveability and comfort effectively, especially if you stick with the smaller alloy wheels that come fitted to the Life models. Step up to the bigger, more eye-catching wheels and their lower-profile tyres aren't as good at keeping bumps from jostling passengers. Upgraded suspension is also available for around £1,000, which allows the driver to adjust its firmness from behind the wheel. It’s probably overkill for most buyers, but keen drivers may enjoy making the T-Roc even more comfortable in their softest mode, and slightly sharper at the other end of the scale.

Volkswagen T-Roc petrol engines

The cheapest and most fuel-efficient T-Roc petrol is the three-cylinder, 1.0-litre TSI, which produces 109bhp and gets from 0-62mph in a respectable 10.8 seconds, making a charismatic thrum while doing so. Thanks to its responsive nature, it actually feels rather quicker than its acceleration figures suggest, and proves more than a match for the bigger-engined 1.5-litre MINI Countryman. Its six-speed gearbox is light, precise and easy to use, too.

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The 1.5-litre TSI EVO is another highlight, boasting some clever technology not found in rivals. Economy sits just below that of the 1.0-litre TSI, but there’s a useful boost in performance thanks to its 148bhp, cutting the 0-62mph time to 8.6 seconds with a DSG automatic gearbox fitted. This is a sporty automatic transmission once on the move, but it’s rather jerky at urban speeds, particularly in reverse, so this is something to consider if you regularly have to parallel park or drive into tight spaces.

The fastest petrol model in the range (besides the near-300bhp T-Roc R) is the 187bhp 2.0-litre TSI model. This is currently only available with four-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, and while economy and emissions suffer as a result, the performance on offer is punchy, hitting 62mph in just under seven seconds.

In this specification, the T-Roc gains adjustable drive modes that allow you to tailor the car to your needs with adjustments to the throttle, steering and suspension. Adjusted just so, the T-Roc 2.0-litre TSI can be fun behind the wheel. The balance between ride and handling is excellent and the car settles down nicely while cruising.

Around town, the car’s great visibility, easily judged extremities and eager performance make it easier to drive than some of its less wieldy rivals.

Diesel engines

The 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel feels gutsy when you put your foot down, and doesn't seem as noisy as other diesels with this much power, even when you really wring it for all it can give. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox are standard, or you can opt for a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. The latter is very smooth between gears, but we did find it hangs on to third gear for too long before changing up.

There’s also a version of the 2.0-litre diesel with 113bhp, which takes 10.4 seconds to get from 0-62mph. This is likely to be fine for people using their cars around town but we feel the 148bhp diesel is a better fit if you often load the car with passengers or make lots of motorway journeys.

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Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0 TSI 115 Life 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £27,230

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.0 TSI 115 Life 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £27,230

Fastest

  • Name
    1.0 TSI 115 Life 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £27,230

Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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