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Performance version of popular compact crossover receives freshened exterior and upgraded interior

What is it?

As with other less powerful Volkswagen T-Roc models, the T-Roc R doesn’t receive a power hike with this mid-life facelift, but it does benefit from a series of exterior styling changes and upgrades to its interior, which combine to give it a more contemporary look and more premium feel than before.

It remains delightfully urgent, with a raspy exhaust note that pops and crackles on the overrun in Race driving mode to give you the full aural performance car experience when you so desire.

The turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine displays some lag as the induction begins to build at lower end of the dial. Still, it's very determined and also quite smooth through the mid-range, where it's very responsive and willing.

Volkswagen’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (DSG) gearbox is quick and smoother than ever before. It delivers rapid upshifts in automatic mode and is every bit as eager when you operate it in manual mode via the R-specific steering-wheel-mounted paddles.

Drive is sent to all four wheels via a fifth-generation version of Volkswagen’s 4Motion four-wheel drive system. It's not as advanced as the system used by the latest Volkswagen Golf R, but its ability to vary the amount of power sent to the front and rear wheels provides the T-Roc R with excellent traction.

What's it like?

You can deploy the 296bhp and 295lb ft with great confidence, both in wet and dry conditions. Predictably given the lack of any significant mechanical upgrades, the 0-62mph time is the same as before, at 4.9sec, as is the limited 155mph top speed. Don’t let that put you off, though. The all-season performance remains at a very high level.  

When you dial it back, there are flexible qualities to the engine in either Eco, Comfort or Normal mode. This makes for relatively relaxed and refined driving traits, both around town and at typical motorway cruising speeds in taller gears.

The 1560kg T-Roc R is assured over more challenging roads. The progressive steering, which alters the amount of assistance dependent on speed, is characteristically light and devoid of much communication. However, it gets a high-geared ratio, imbuing the car with brisk turn in and pleasing all-round agility, if little in the way of true feel.

The MacPherson strut front and four-link rear suspension is lowered by 20mm and stiffened quite appreciably over other T-Roc models to improve body control, erring towards firm in Race mode. It's fine on smooth surfaces but tends to contribute to quite a bit of vertical movement and bump thump over rougher roads.

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Setting it apart from its less powerful T-roc models, the facelifted T-Roc R continues to have its own unique styling touches. Included is a more heavily structured front bumper with high-gloss-black highlights, vertically stacked daytime running lights (mirroring the look of those used by the latest Golf R) and a larger central air duct than that seen on standard T-Rocs.  

Other traditional R styling details include standard 18in Jerez alloy wheels (optionally 19in); aluminium-look door-mirror housings; a larger spoiler integrated into the top of the tailgate; darkened tail-light lenses with new-look LED graphics; and a new rear bumper with high-gloss-black detailing, an integrated diffuser and quad tailpipes (optionally available as Akrapovič titanium ones, as on the Golf R).

Inside, the top of the dashboard gets a soft-touch material in place of the hard plastic used previously. There's also a new standard 8.0in Digital Cockpit instrument display and a 9.2in) infotainment touchscreen, the latter featuring a new tiled menu and altered graphics as part of a third-generation MIB upgrade.

New or revised functions include traffic-sign recognition, conversational voice control, optional Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and an embedded SIM card to allow access to Volkswagen’s WeConnect streaming services.

Reflecting its performance positioning, the T-Roc R also adds a thicker-rimmed flat-bottomed R steering wheel with an integral R mode button, R-specific instrument graphics, stainless-steel pedal caps and footrest, more heavily contoured R seats and a series of R-specific driving-monitor functions on the touchscreen, among other individual touches.

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Should I buy one?

All in all, the T-Roc R is a likeable crossover with the sort of performance, dynamics and features to make it a convincing alternative to traditional hot hatches and newer altogether more brutish breed of hyper hatches.

Pricing hasn't yet been revealed, but Volkswagen suggests the facelifted T-Roc R will be pitched close to the £38,450 of the model it replaces in the UK.

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keithlburns 5 March 2022

I am a fan of this car, vw produces really good quality cars, but the price is quite high for me, I think I need to work for 10 years to get this car :(

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