Although it’s rare to find a crossover hatchback with what’s ostensibly a slightly detuned engine from a GTI hot hatchback – albeit a Polo GTI in this case rather than a Golf – it’s not altogether surprising that VW should have built one.
The company tends to offer broader engine ranges than many of its volume-brand competitors and its semi-premium positioning also allows it to embrace the more powerful end of the combustive spectrum in the way that its rivals perhaps can’t.
Interested drivers should certainly be glad of both facts, because the T-Roc 2.0 TSI performs with the strength and zest that has been conspicuous by its absence from this class thus far.
It has smoothness and polish, too, being particularly quiet and well mannered when cruising at low and high speeds, and is also well matched to a smart, quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic gearbox that impresses in both automatic and paddle-shift manual modes.
When all is said and done, it’s probably the completeness of this all-corner powertrain that distinguishes it best.
But the car is generously swift – more so, by our measurements, even than VW claims it is. You don’t expect to find a ‘launch control’ setting, but select S mode on the transmission and ESC Sport on the stability control and you certainly will when holding the car on the brakes and building up a bit of power against them.
And, given its head, our T-Roc test car found bountiful, assured traction even in slippery conditions and needed just 6.7sec to hit 60mph from rest, making VW’s 7.2sec-to-62mph claim look unnecessarily conservative.
The T-Roc’s 2.0-litre EA888 engine doesn’t rev above 5500rpm with quite the freedom it shows in proper performance-branded applications, and if anything denies the car the telling aura of a GTI by another name, it’s probably that.
But it certainly pulls with ample muscle through the middle of the tacho’s travel, sounds cultured but nicely vigorous and has that feeling of relatively unstressed, unburstable strength almost irrespective of engine speed that’s familiar from VW’s even hotter Golfs and so many of the wider VW Group’s performance models.