Volkswagen T-Roc review


What is?

Four words are enough: “Strong and big golf course”. It sits between the Taigo and Tiguan in VW’s range of nine SUVs, and since its launch in 2017, more than a million have found homes around the world, with more than 72,000 sold in the UK.

Five years later, it’s time for a midlife facelift. It now sports new LED headlights as standard along with blacked-out taillights, plus a lighting strip up front that you’ll recognize, yes, you guessed it, the Golf. The interior has gone digital first, with every T-Roc equipped with standard digital dials (8.0-inch or 10.25-inch, depending on spec) and a tablet-style infotainment screen (8.0-inch or 9, 2 inches, depending on specifications) . VW has also addressed cabin quality, most notably with a new soft-touch dashboard.

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Otherwise, there are new driver assistance systems, including optional predictive cruise control that enables power steering, braking, and acceleration at speeds up to 130mph. Not completely independent, but still.

First digital interior, you say? uh oh…

Unfortunately if. Once again, for the T-Roc’s midlife facelift, VW decided to throw the veteran’s easy-to-use push-button climate control panel in the dumpster. It is well that it is not integrated directly into the information system (which is also slow and frustrating to use than ever), and I replaced it with a panel of tactile buttons that is not better. Sigh.

Bad news if you’re also looking at the R-Line specs: You’ll also have to suffer through similar touch buttons rather than actual buttons on the steering wheel.

Everything is wrong?

Not currently. Volkswagen addressed the poor cabin quality of the pre-facelift version with a soft-touch dashboard, while the hollow, hard door trim was replaced with standard cloth or leatherette on higher spec. It’s a significant improvement over its predecessor, making the cabin a much nicer place to live.

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The high driving position offers good visibility, while the seats are well positioned in relation to the pedals, steering wheel and infotainment. Rear seat space is slightly limited due to the shorter wheelbase, but the boot, at 445 litres, is slightly larger than the Golf’s.

Changes under the hood?

No, it’s more or less the same here: the T-Roc is available with three petrol or two diesel engines as standard. The entry-level gasoline is a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder with 108 hp, the next is a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder with 148 hp, while the top of the range is a 2.0 4-cylinder with 187 hp. Diesel options are both 2.0-litre 4-cylinders, with 113 or 148 hp.

Gearbox options range from six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic, while all-wheel drive is available with top-of-the-line petrol and diesel options.

It drives as well as it should, that is, at least avoiding the 1.0-litre petrol, which feels rather slow with its 0-60 mph time of 10.8 seconds. The ride is arguably better in the 4WD versions, which have a proper multi-link rear suspension, while the front-wheel drive T-Rocs have a single torsion beam in the rear. In a Golf you get multiple links even with FWD on all but the weakest models.

Still, potholes and big potholes pose few problems, especially around town, where the T-Roc will probably be mostly used, and that’s about all most owners probably care about. There’s a fair amount of road noise, especially on taller versions with larger tires, as well as wind noise, but it’s not deafening.

Otherwise, it’s about what you’d expect from a crossover, with decently precise steering, smooth manual and automatic gear changes, and moderate lean in corners.

What’s the verdict?

Do you know golf? There won’t be too many surprises here then. Older in style, lack of practicality.

Car buyers love small crossovers, as the T-Roc’s stats show. This is largely due to its golf looks, comfortable driving experience, and convenient size. Although the rear is a bit limited in space compared to its rivals.

With its mid-life facelift, Volkswagen made subtle improvements to the exterior appearance and addressed the outgoing T-Roc’s budget feel with an upgraded soft-touch cabin. However, we think it’s one step forward and two steps back, with the quirky infotainment system and touchscreen climate controls much easier to use on its predecessor.

Still, as a family crossover likely to be used for taking the kids to school, the weekly trip to the grocery store, and maybe the occasional trip, it’ll be fine for most people. Don’t expect much beyond that.

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