2018 Volkswagen T-Roc R-Line Review - Roc Steady


With SUVs still on a growth path, VW introduces its smallest offering yet, the T-Roc. Available only as an R-Line range topper at present, it has much to recommend it

Words: Peter Louisson   |   Photos Tom Gasnier
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Such is the ongoing preference among Kiwis for high-riders that in the near future formerly popular vehicles like the Golf will be usurped by the likes of this, VW’s new T-Roc. It’s what you might get if you jacked up a Golf and gave it SUV styling features.

A bit more practicality and a bit more ability thanks to the provision of AWD, at least in this, the top and only model available in New Zealand. The R-Line will be joined midway through 2019 by front-drive models that don’t cost as much as this $51,990 vehicle. VW locally has managed to secure a shipment initially bound for the UK and will offer the vehicle first to existing Volkswagen owners.

So until next year, availability is likely to be tight. But know this; if you’re after the best all-round compact SUV in the sector, you’re probably looking at it. T-Roc is a sport utility vehicle in its literal sense. As to the name, you might be wondering? I wish it were ingenious but it’s closer to T for tragic. The lone capital is straightforward, and indicates this is a member of the German giant’s SUV family, like Tiguan and Touareg.

The Roc bit has nothing to do with a mythical bird of prey. Rather, it’s what the company reckons this vehicle will do to the sector. Rock it. Yes, we groaned as well. But some will think it a funky name, like that of former wrestling superstar Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

Still, names are nothing more than tags, and this compact warrior is sure to become popular. Whether or not it goes on to outsell Tiguan which Kiwis have embraced will be interesting to see. This is more compact, better for tight spaces. At 4234mm it is a considerable 252mm shorter than Tiguan and is also shaded by close cousin Ateca. And that’s part of the appeal of T-Roc; it’s nicely sized to do good business, not too big for tight city streets but not so small it can’t accommodate four adults in comfort. In the Goldilocks zone then.

What also impresses is the overall refinement

There’s not a huge amount of gear space in the back, 392L (Golf 380L), but the floor is elevated so it’s easy to slide goods in. There’s a decent sized spare under the R-Line’s floor too, not some can of gloop. Easy split folding expands load space to 1290L. If you need more room and like what you see in T-Roc, hang out for the front-drive variants which offer 445L.

Where the Golf is conservative almost to the point of being anonymous, the T-Roc is bolder. Just a tiny bit mind. And much of that is up front where clever bottle-shaped DRLs double as indicators. Squinty headlights are part of a full-width grille, a current Volkswagen styling theme. In profile the overhangs are nicely contained and the roof gently slopes rearwards towards an integrated spoiler. It all reminds a bit of Q2, which, in 2.0L guise, costs $13k more.

The fifth door is power operated, and access to the vehicle is by comfort entry, so just having the key nearby is sufficient. Slide in and hit the well located starter in the centre console and you could be driving VW’s popular peoples’ car. For it uses a familiar 2.0L turbopetrol that outputs slightly more power than Golf TSI at 140kW but the same amount of torque, 320Nm from 1500 to 4177rpm.

Why such a precise number for the rev high point I have completely no idea. Fifteen hundred to 4200 would have done the trick but we’re glad to see the German’s being more honest with figures concerning their engines. Peak power is developed over a broad rev spread too, from an even 4200-6000rpm.

Fuel use impressed; even when pushed we had trouble getting this into double figures. On the motorway, low sixes is easy. This is a bit of a greyhound amongst lesser canines.

And there are a couple of three good reasons for that. Firstly, T-Roc utilises the lightweight MQB platform of Golf and scales up at 1500kg so its power to weight figure of 10.7kg/kW promises plenty. Secondly, the engine is tied up to a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox, known for its slick action. And thirdly, with AWD and launch control, this gets off the line in spirited fashion.

Officially VW reckons on 7.2sec for the 0-100 time but we easily bettered that, all runs in the sixes, with a best of 6.7sec. Seems quick enough then, and that’s also true when it comes time to round up campervans or trucks that inconsistently pull over to allow the following line-up of traffic to pass. A touch over 5sec isn’t hanging around.

Countering that are brakes better than the norm for the sector, with good bite at the pedal and excellent stopping distances, aided by soft meaty tyres. A best of 35.8m impressed. T-Roc seems to make good use of its speed potential too. The R-Line features sports suspension though there’s no active damping.

There’s a host of drive modes, like snow and offroad while the road mode has four submenus, including economy, normal, sport and individual. Essentially the middle two are what you will use, sport amping things along nicely, normal ideal for general day-to-day use.

Peugeot 508 GT

The suspension is expertly fettled for a mix of an even compliant ride and sorted grippy handling. Helping to keep the show interesting are generously sized low profile Potenza tyres, and with AWD this grips like a sticky thing. It has decent suspension travel too, helping to deal to large and difficult road roughage.

What also impresses is the overall refinement, the dB meter often registering in the high sixties, the average just into the low 70s. Unusual for a VW of this price, there are next to no soft plastics and nor is there leather, just a jot of Alcantara. Mosts bins are unlined too. The manual seats look the business but feel flat, and while there’s lumbar adjustability on offer, don’t expect a lumbar roll in your lower back.

We appreciated provision of active cruise, and the adjustable instrument display, but the three different but almost identical clock presentations is lost on me.

Specification not previously mentioned includes dual zone air, blind spot monitoring, overhead and reversing cameras, idle stop, tyre pressure monitoring, hill descent control, pedestrian monitoring, and driver fatigue sensing.

There’s also sat nav, compatibility for both phone types, collision warning and AEB, lane keeping and cross traffic alert. Parking sensors and self parking are part of the deal, along with comfort entry and a powered tailgate.

The R-Line adds sport suspension, 19-inch rims, body coloured bumpers, and special upholstery and trim. So a fair amount of gear, justifying a price premium.

Buyers not needing AWD or not wanting to pay over $50k for their compact SUV should wait until next year when less expensive models will expand the line-up and also offer additional load space.

The Stats

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Model Volkswagen T-Roc R-Line  Price $51,990

Engine 1984cc, IL4, T/DI, 140kW/320Nm

Transmission 7-speed twin-clutch, all-wheel drive

Vitals 6.68sec 0-100km/h, 6.8L/100km, 156g/km, 1516kg

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