Volkswagen T-Roc 1.0TSI Design18 | 12 | 2017Scotcars rating

    Late arrival VW ready to rock the compact SUV party with its quirky new T-Roc headturner

    VOLKSWAGEN HAS FINALLY entered what is currently the most popular, and competitive sector in the car industry, the small crossover SUV segment, with its new T-Roc. The newcomer goes head-to-head with the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Toyota C-HR, Honda HR-V, Fiat 500X and Peugeot 3008, plus VW Group stablemates the Audi Q2, Skoda Karoq and Seat Ateca. (Related: VW extends scrappage scheme through to 2018)

    Based on the platform which supports the class-leading Golf, the T-Roc range starts at £18,950 and rises to £31,485.

    It’s available in four trim levels — S, SE, Design and SEL — plus either two-wheel drive, or four-wheel drive 4Motion.

    We check out the best-selling engine, the 113bhp 1.0-litre 2WD petrol mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. While it’s the mid-range SE which is expected to be the top seller, we have the Design model, which starts at £20,310.

    Sitting below the Tiguan, VW has taken a very sensible approach with the new T-Roc. While some manufacturers have tried to make their crossovers do the job of proper SUVs or MPVs, VW has pitched the T-Roc as an alternative to a proper car. See it as a Golf on steroids.

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    Cabin space in the T-Roc is near identical to that of the Golf — at 1471mm, the T-Roc is 2mm wider in the front, and 34mm wider across the backseats at 1474mm — it naturally enjoys a higher seat position. That not only boosts visibility, but also aids access. Worth mentioning it also has an 81mm-higher roofline, which ensures improved head room, and can carry more luggage than a Golf.

    Interestingly, the T-Roc is marginally shorter in overall length than the Golf, a result of a reduction in the crossover’s wheelbase. The result is a car which basks in its cute, confident compact shape.

    There are obvious similarities to the Q2 from its sister stable at Audi — they share the same wheelbase and VW Group MQB platform — and, as is the case with the majority of new cars being launched, there’s an almost never-ending list of personalisation options.

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    These include 11 exterior colours, four interior colours, four roof colours and nine different styles of alloy wheels. And that’s before you even start considering what you want to add inside the car.

    There is though, thankfully, just only one bodystyle to choose from but the line-up of engine choices is huge: three petrol and two diesel, with 114, 148 and 188bhp options on the petrol side in 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0-litre forms or 114 and 148bhp choices for the 1.6 and two 2.0-litre diesels. Four-wheel drive is also an option — though only 10% of buyers are expected to choose 4WD — as are auto gearboxes with some engines. A sporty-looking T-Roc R Line will go on-sale at Scottish dealers early in 2018.

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    We’re driving the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre 2WD petrol mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and, to be honest, it’s a cracking drive. It also promises to be an ideal, fun, urban runaround which will make it an instant — and big — hit.

    On the outside, the T-Roc has a number of quirky styling cues including angular lines, a gently swooping roofline and indicator lights that circle the fog light clusters. There’s no denying the newcomer relishes its boxy dimensions.

    Inside? Well, as you’d expect, it’s pretty much a Golf. Everything you touch regularly — in terms of operating functions such as the climate dials, wheel column stalks et al — have that traditional VW robustness to them.

    That said, it’s impossible to ignore that in the T-Roc the plastics feel tough rather than premium. There is though an 8.0in infotainment touchscreen with key features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mirroring.

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    Even in Design trim, satnav is an extra. It’s included as part of VW’s Discover Navigation infotainment system, which will set you back £1130. The pack does though also add Car-Net ‘guide and inform’, ‘security and service’, and the ‘portal and Car-Net’ app.

    Getting comfy behind the driver’s seat is easy, thanks to a seat which has a wide range of adjustments and a steering wheel that can be pulled close.

    VW’s three-cylinder 1.0TSI engine is one of the best in the business and delivers a punchy mid-range grunt. Don’t laugh: before long you’ll find yourself smiling as you flick through the slick six-speeder and wondering why it feels as sporty as it does.

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    Much of that is down to the dazzling work carried out by chassis development boss Karsten Schebsdat. Before turning his head to the T-Roc, Schebsdat was the man responsible for signing-off the settings of the brilliant Golf GTI Clubsport S. He also pushed for a more adjustable Polo GTI.

    No surprise then that the T-Roc rides and steers in the manner of a large hatchback rather than SUV. The effective damping eliminates wobbles or excessive body movement, while the front wheels are quick to respond to steering inputs. Even fitted with its standard 17in alloys, the T-Roc relished being pushed on the narrow, twisty B-roads of the test drive.

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    But let’s be be honest, and get our ‘sensible’ head back on. The T-Roc is going to spend the vast majority of its life dealing with the daily humdrum of city driving: doing the school run, nipping into Tesco, driving to work, visiting the relatives … you know the sort of thing.

    Ideal then that there’s good enough legroom in the rear — I could sit comfortably behind my own driving position, and I’m 5ft 9in — and the rear bench has a 60/40 split. Those in the rear can also use a separate 12V power supply, plus there are two cupholders accessed by lowering a section of the middle seat.

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    In the boot, there’s a spare wheel beneath the floor, which is flat to the lip meaning loading and unloading heavy items is significantly easy. There’s also a ski hatch in the middle seat which allows rear passengers to reach into the boot.

    There’s no denying the T-Roc will be a massive success for VW. Expect to see it popping up not only on the roads near you, but most likely also on the drive of your neighbours. It’s going to be that popular.

    Sure it’s handsome, but its clever practicality and personalisation means it’ll appeal not only to small families and couples, but importantly, also the ‘lifestyle-loving’ young buyers car marketeers strive to capture.

    Take my word. Get used to the looks of the T-Roc, because it’s coming to a house near you.

    Related: VW unveils I.D. Crozz II SUV

    Keep up-to-date with all the latest news by following us on twitter.com/Scotcars

    Jim McGill

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £21,125 / £24,425
    Engine / Power: 3cyls, 999cc, turbocharged petrol, with 6sp manual / 113bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 10.1sec / Max 116mph
    How big/heavy?: L4234mm W1992mm (incl mirrors) H1573mm / 1270kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 55.4mpg combined / 117g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: 11E / n/a
    Alternatives: Nissan Qashqai, Toyota C-HR, Honda HR-V, Fiat 500X, Audi Q2, Skoda Karoq and Seat Ateca

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