Car review: Volkswagen T-Roc

VW's T-Roc is great fun to drive and has real character - it's a welcome addition to the small SUV market, finds Dr Tony Rimmer.

Volkswagen products have always been popular with GPs and the Golf has been a firm favourite for many years. Unfortunately, the notorious ‘Dieselgate’ fiasco has damaged the reputation of all VW Group products and, particularly since there are health issues involved, we doctors have not been impressed.

In order to regain buyers’ confidence, the German giant has to release great value class-leading vehicles with a wide option of petrol-powered variants. To find out whether it is doing this or not, it was with great interest that I approached the very newest Volkswagen model to be launched, the T-Roc.

Based on the same floorpan as the latest Golf as well as many other Volkswagen Group products, the T-Roc is a small SUV and a latecomer to the popular and highly-competitive SUV/crossover segment of the market. The current class-leader is Nissan’s Qashqai with Seat’s Ateca a close second.

Available options

There are four main trim levels available; S, SE, Design and SEL and four engine options: three petrol and one diesel.

The 1.0TSi has 3 cylinders and produces 115bhp, the 1.5TSi has four cylinders and produces 150bhp, the 2.0TSi produces 190bhp and the diesel 2.0TDi produces 150bhp.

Six-speed manual gearboxes and front-wheel drive are the order of the day but the 2.0 TSi has a seven-speed DSG auto box and four-wheel drive.

As a reflection of the current public car-buying preferences, Volkswagen had plenty of petrol-powered variants of the T-Roc available to drive at the UK launch in snowy Oxfordshire. In the flesh, the T-Roc has an almost coupe look to it. Less boxy and upright than most SUVs, the styling certainly gives it a smart and modern appearance.

Various body contrast options are available to personalize your own car and this follows the current fashion to attract younger buyers.

Interior

Any Golf driver will be familiar with the interior. Clear dashboard and controls are only let down by a rather cheap and hard plastic used on the fascia and upper doors.

I fail to understand why Volkswagen have allowed this anomaly as their use of materials have always been a higher quality than in the sister SEAT and Skoda brands. Rear head and legroom is great for two passengers but it is a bit of a squeeze for three.

The hatchback boot is spacious but again, not quite as roomy as rivals such as SEAT’s excellent Ateca.

Great fun to drive

I slipped behind the wheel of a £19,610 1.0TSi SE model and took to the road. Immediately, I knew that Volkswagen had designed something a bit special with this new small SUV.

The engine is sprightly, the gearbox is easy to use and the steering is nicely weighted and direct. With this goes tidy handling and a sporty but not over-firm ride.

The T-Roc is great fun to drive and this base three-cylinder engine variant has real character and does not feel underpowered at all. This is just how Volkswagens are supposed to drive. The icing on the cake is the claimed overall mpg of 55.4 mpg. In the real world, that means an easy average above 40mpg; and it is not a diesel.

I then swapped over to a £22,685 1.5TSi Design model to see what an extra few thousand pounds gets you. It drives just as well; the extra 35bhp make it feel sportier still.

Claimed overall mpg is still very impressive at 53.3mpg. The extra features of the Design model include a contrasting colour roof and some more driver safety and comfort systems. To get standard Sat-Nav and VW’s active dashboard display, you have to move up to the top SEL model which costs an extra £1,600.

Top of the range is the £31,485 2.0TSi SEL with four-wheel drive and a DSG gearbox as standard. It uses a slightly de-tuned version of the Golf GTI’s engine and it drives like a GTI. If you like your driving and want a little more room than a Golf then this might be the car for you.

Real character

Pick of the range for anyone looking for best value but decent standard features would be the 1.5TSi SEL at £24,520. Also, the DSG 7 speed auto will be available on this model later in 2018.

Volkswagen has been clever with the new T-Roc. It has produced a stylish small SUV that has real character and is good value compared to premium rivals.

It is a shame about the quality of the interior plastics but you soon forget this when you are zipping around town on house-calls. It could fit most GPs’ lifestyles perfectly. Look out for competition from Skoda’s new Karoq and Jaguar’s new E-Pace.

Volkswagen T-Roc 1.5 TSi SEL
Body Five seat hatchback front-wheel drive SUV
Engine 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power 150 bhp
Torque 250 Nm
Top speed 127mph
Acceleration 0-62mph in 8.3 secs
Claimed economy Combined 53.3 mpg
CO2 emissions 120g/km
On-the-road price £ 24,520

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