From £21,4459

Volkswagen arrives late at the crossover hatchback party. But can the T-Roc still turn heads in a congested segment?

When the Nissan Qashqai first entered production in 2006, no one could have predicted the impact that it would have on the car-buying masses. Combining the high-riding driving position of an SUV with the exterior dimensions of a more regular-sized hatchback, it marked the birth of what’s widely regarded as the first commercially successful crossover hatchback.

Rivals were quick to launch their own takes on Nissan’s formula for sales success and as consumer appetites for crossovers developed, so have the cars. And this week, we test the latest German-made, design-centred take on the concept: the Volkswagen T-Roc.

Bullet-shaped LED daytime-running lights lend the T-Roc a distinctive light signature. On higher-spec models, the DRLs double as indicator

This is one of the more athletic-looking and dynamic, driver-focused takes on the crossover hatchback to have emerged of late, enlivening what was previously a rather snooze-inducing segment.

Next to the excellent Seat Ateca, striking Toyota C-HR and the upmarket Audi Audi Q2, the reserved – yet still very complete – Nissan Qashqai suddenly seems old hat.

The T-Roc is Volkswagen’s belated first crack at such a car, with the new arrival sitting below the larger Volkswagen Tiguan and Volkswagen Touareg in the company line-up and priced from £20,005. And, boy, does it have its work cut out.

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The Volkswagen Group already has an Autocar class leader in the shape of Seat Ateca, as well as the new Skoda Karoq and Audi Q2. In short, there’s no lack of competition, even in-house.

So what does the T-Roc bring to the (rather crowded) table? For starters, there’s the 187bhp and four-wheel drive of the 2.0 TSI turbocharged petrol model we’re placing under the microscope. Both traits promise performance and handling dynamism that you could almost expect to be GTI-like.

It’s plainly a striking thing to behold, too, being more athletic, elegant, purposeful and interesting in its slightly decorated appearance than the crossover norm, although you’d never call it shouty or over the top.

At £32,750, this T-Roc is not exactly cheap, mind. You’ll shell out less for a like-for-like Seat Ateca (the reigning class leader, remember) and v.

If it’s to justify that tall asking price, it’s going to have to make a solid case for itself in this road test. 

Price £32,750 Power 187bhp Torque 236lb ft 0-60mph 6.7sec 30-70mph in fourth 10.1sec Fuel economy 31.1mpg CO2 emissions 155g/km 70-0mph 54.6m

The T-Roc range at a glance

The current line-up has no shortage of choice, with five trim levels, a handful of powertrains, and the option of front- and all-wheel drive. Entry-level S models begin with a 1.0-litre petrol or 1.6-litre diesel, with each outputting 114bhp and paired to a six-speed manual.

Step-up SE trim cars can be fitted with VW’s more powerful 1.5-litre, 148bhp TSI EVO petrol, which can also be mated to a 7-speed DSG auto, while a 2.0-litre diesel matches it for power. Four-wheel drive begins at SEL trim, with petrol variants using an automatic gearbox but the diesel alternative sticking with a six-speed manual.

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Currently the 188bhp, 2.0-litre TSI is the most powerful engine in the range. A true performance version, the T-Roc R, is due imminently with VW’s EA888 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine outputting 296bhp through a part-time Haldex-based all-wheel drive powertrain and seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. 


Volkswagen T-Roc FAQs

Is the Volkswagen T-Roc available as a plug-in or electric?

Strangely, given it shares its platform with the Golf hatchback, the Volkswagen T-Roc isn’t available with either a plug-in or mild-hybrid engine option. Instead, there’s a range of traditional petrol and diesel units available with the compact crossover, which is one of the German brand’s most popular models. However, the firm has revealed that the second generation T-Roc, due in 2024, will be available with a plug-in powertrain that should be capable of over 60 miles on a single charge.

What are the main rivals for the Volkswagen T-Roc?

The compact crossover class is one of the most fiercely fought in the new car market, so the Volkswagen T-Roc isn’t short of rivals. If you want a plug-in drivetrain and a dash of style, then the Peugeot 3008, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson are all worth a look, while the Nissan Qashqai is good value and affordable to run. Based on the same platform as the T-Roc, the Skoda Karoq offers great space and lower prices, while the SEAT Ateca is sharper to drive and look at.

How much power does the Volkswage T-Roc have?

There’s a range of familiar engines available with the Volkswagen T-Roc, starting with the 108bhp 1.0-litre TSI petrol and 113bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesel. The latter also comes in a 148bhp guise, which is the same power as the 1.5-litre TSI petrol, while the larger 2.0-litre TSI develops a healthy 187bhp. However, the biggest punch is reserved for the high performance T-Roc R flagship, which serves up 296bhp and will blast from 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds.

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What choices of gearbox are there on the Volkswagen T-Roc?

Lower powered versions of the Volkswagen T-Roc are fitted with a six-speed manual that has a well-oiled shift action and progressive clutch, making them easy to drive. Available as an option on these models, but standard on the 187bhp 2.0-litre TSI, T-Roc R any version with 4Motion all-wheel drive is a seven-speed automatic. This is the brand’s trademark twin-clutch DSG type, which delivers extremely quick and smooth shifts, whether left to its own device or when changing manually using the steering wheel-mounted gear shift paddles.

Where is the Volkswagen T-Roc built?

Given the popularity of the Volkswagen T-Roc, it’s surprising to find that it’s only built in a handful of factories. Most European examples are assembled at the Palmela plant in Portugal, which was recently home to the Volkswagen Sharan and SEAT Alhambra MPVs, as well as the Volkswagen Scirocco and Eos. The T-Roc is also constructed at the VW-FAW joint venture plant in Foshan, China, while the convertible version is made at the brand’s Osnabruck facility in Germany.

How many generations of Volkswagen T-Roc are there?

The current Volkswagen T-Roc is still in its first generation, although it has recently been facelifted with updated looks and revised interior that features the latest infotainment from the MK8 Golf. While it has no direct predecessors, in size the T-Roc is an almost direct replacement for the original Tiguan, which effectively moved up a class when the MK2 machine was launched in 2016. Volkswagen has revealed that an all-new, second generation T-Roc will make its debut in 2024.

Volkswagen T-Roc First drives