From £21,4458
Do 187bhp and 4Motion all-wheel drive make the current top-spec T-Roc exciting to drive?
Sam Sheehan
15 December 2017

What is it?

Volkswagen has ambitions of becoming one of the world’s largest producers of SUVs, so it is trying to leave no stone unturned by developing a model to fill every category in the segment. We recently met the T-Roc 1.0 TSI that provides an answer to the more mainstream end of the class. Today, it’s the significantly more potent T-Roc 2.0 TSI that gets our attention.

This most powerful T-Roc falls into the small but increasingly significant hot crossovers sub-segment, where cooking variants of the Mini Countryman and Mercedes-Benz GLA live. As such, its firepower is provided by Volkswagen’s ubiquitous turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine in 187bhp and 236lb ft form.

Our test car mates the unit to a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox and drives all four wheels via 4Motion technology, giving this T-Roc the quickest off-the-line performance statistics of its brethren. The 0-62mph dash takes 7.2sec and its top speed is rated at 134mph – that's enough to beat the cheaper Countryman Cooper S All4 but falls short of the more directly comparable GLA 250 4Matic.

Inside, our SE L-spec car - which is the top trim available until R-Line arrives in May 2018 – gets Volkswagen’s Active Information Display technology (the company's take on Audi’s Virtual Cockpit) in place of dials as standard, giving it an edge over rivals, as well as an 8.0in touchscreen on the centre console.

What's it like?

Buyers expecting an interior to match the car’s heated-up performance may be disappointed, because much of the SE L model’s cabin looks familiar to that of the mid-spec SE. The interior is practical and versatile but, on a variant that starts from more than £30,000, its generic design and the use of hard-touch plastics will hamper its desirability.

Standard-fit Active Information Display technology (normally a £405 option) is the car’s saving grace, because it far surpasses the effectiveness of most of its main rivals’ smaller instrument cluster screens. The high-resolution 10.3in display adds functionality and value to the interior, falling second only to Audi's Virtual Cockpit.

In this well-equipped form, the T-Roc weighs a hefty 1495kg, but the TSI engine does a fine job of marching it along and is both sharp to respond and elastic through the rev range. Maximum torque is available from just 1500rpm and it keeps on until 4180rpm, making it easy to maintain swift progress no matter the starting speed. The gearbox is quick-shifting, too; but, unlike other models where this powetrain is used, there’s no sporty soundtrack to match.

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Much of our test was on cold, partially snow-covered B-roads, where the 4Motion all-wheel drive does a fine job of maximising traction and minimising slippage when left to its own devices. On lower-traction surfaces, there are four traction settings: Ice/Snow, Road, Off-Road and Off-Road Individual, which offers further customisation. We tried out Ice/Snow on a snow-covered section of grass and the car’s ability to juggle torque to each wheel to maintain traction was impressive.

The traction settings are accompanied by four drive modes: Eco, Comfort, Normal and Sport, as well as an Individual setting. With no optional DCC adjustable damping on our test car, the biggest noticeable changes each mode had related to the sharpness of the throttle and weight of steering.

Volkswagen chassis development boss Karsten Schebsdat told Autocar earlier this month that he has pushed for the T-Roc to be more playful and agile, particularly in 4Motion guise. This certainly seemed to be the case with our test car, which tackled winding roads with enthusiasm and was surprisingly neutral on turn in, only starting to understeer when really hustled into a corner.

The car’s ride is good and the damping well resolved, and although the 18in wheels fitted to the SE L model make cracks and ridges more noticeable, at no point does the ride feel harsh or firm. The way this car can maintain pace along a road without complaint is one of its strongest and likely most desirable traits.

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Should I buy one?

Opt for the variant tested here and you’ll need to fork out more than £31,000, which leaves the car in waters harboured by the more trendy and quicker Audi Q2 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic. But the T-Roc 2.0 TSI holds strong as the slightly more fun car to drive.

While not the the most desirable car of its class, it is one of the best all-rounders and goes about its business in a more discreet manner than the technically similar (but more affordable) Seat Ateca 2.0 TSI and with less focus than the sportier Mini Countryman Cooper S. Admittedly, for those who aren't concerned with the talents of its chassis, that could leave it looking bland.

Where Oxfordshire, UK On sale Now Price £31,485 Engine 4cyls, 1984cc, turbocharged petrol Power 187bhp at 5000rpm Torque 236lb ft at 1500rpm-4180rpm Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch Kerb weight 1495kg Top speed 34mph 0-62mph 7.2sec Fuel economy 41.5mpg CO2 155g/km Rivals Seat AtecaMini Countryman Cooper S, Audi Q2

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Comments
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mbf 2 February 2019

Words or Style or Substance?

I know what I prefer and it isn't words or style. Yep, it's "substance"...now an almost forgotten concept that now gets downgraded to being almost being invisible.

The screeds of comments on plastic trim and style have nothing to do with whether a car is practical, economic or good to drive.

The automotive industry long ago went into overdrive in its quest to create the ILLUSION that their creations are improvements on previous models. In recent years their ambitions far outstripped their abilities. 

Give me a car sans bling but with good drive-ability, economy, robustness, low depreciation, no inbuilt redundancy of over-priced parts and low maintenance costs.   To Hell with smoke, mirrors, tarty styles and illusions.

Meanwhile most car buyers are being ripped of when buying a tonne or so of recycled tin foil and plastic.

LordPitnolen 31 December 2017

Is this the new standard from Volkswagen?

I'm sure, like many members who have inspected the left-hand drive models presented recently at their local VW dealer's showroom, will agree that the model on display was below VW usual standards. The general tone of conversation from interested members of the public was not favourable. We were told that this was an early production run, European model and that the UK versions would be better. For instance, how many foks noticed that the moulded finish of the door cappings in the rear differed from those in the back? The range of models available is currently very limited. It HAS TO BE 4-wheel drive for upper model, adding greatly to price. We were told that new versions will be available in 2018. Personally, that might be too late for me and will choose another car.

In the meantime, anyone want to buy the REGISTRATION NUMBER that I bought thinking I could be buying this model?

T700 ROC

Open to offers.

LP

LordPitnolen 31 December 2017

Opps !

Try this FOLKS -

" . . . door cappings in the rear differed from those in the front? "

Woops :-)

si73 18 December 2017

Dull or bland

But you are right spanner, VWs design sells well, people seem to like the conservative? grown up? Simple? Design that they have. I personally am not a huge fan of suvs and so wouldn't be remotely interested in this, but regarding VW as a whole, I am sure it only really sells well because of its badge as its SEAT and Skoda versions are always as good (even if they have less squishy plastics) and often of a more interesting design. Regarding the T roc though, to me it seems very Audi esq styling wise so that will win it sales no doubt, though if, as suggested, the price is close to the Q2 that may lose it sales.