VW T-Roc 2018 review, road test and verdict
In the space of six months or so we’ve seen the arrival of the Citroën C3 Aircross, Kia Stonic, Hyundai Kona, Skoda Karoq, Seat Arona, facelifted Ford Ecosport and now this Volkswagen T-Roc.
And that, of course, is before you’ve even got to the existing Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur, Nissan Juke and Mini Countryman.
Which makes it something of a headache for anyone in the market for this class of car.
It’s an aspirin-reaching dilemma for the car makers too, who struggle to stand out in such a diluted market. So does this Volkswagen T-Roc succeed? To a certain extent, yes.
Our particular test car was bright blue with a white roof and while the two-tone look is now fairly commonplace (Kia, Hyundai and Citroën all do the same to name but three), it’s combined with the baby VW’s striking looks.
Styling is always a very personal view but we’re not entirely convinced about the T-Roc’s looks overall.
The wide-set grille and over-sized headlights look slightly out of proportion with the rest of the car and, while we’re usually fans of it, we’re not convinced by the contrast roof that includes the A-pillars between the front door and windscreen in this setting.
However, there’s a lot to like under the T-Roc’s bonnet with a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine in this guise boasting 150bhp and automatic cylinder deactivation.
Doing exactly what it says, that last item effectively shuts down part of the engine when under light load and then reintroduces it as and when required.
It works, too, with the engine proving very smooth alongside the slick six-speed manual gearbox.
Officially, the VW can get from 0 to 60mph in 8.3 seconds and on to a 127mph top speed with a 53.3mpg average fuel economy and 120g/km emissions. That cylinder deactivation works.
We achieved fuel consumption in the mid-to-high 40s without taking any special measures and with the air conditioning running.
In fact, on the road, the T-Roc proves surprisingly refi ned with a good ride quality and little unwanted noise in the cabin, except for a little wind noise at motorway speeds. But otherwise it’s impressive for what is still a small car.
Keen drivers might want to shop elsewhere though, as it’s certainly not the most involving car to drive.
There’s little feedback from the seat or the steering wheel about what the car is doing beneath you, suggesting that those who developed the car seem to view any time behind the wheel as a chore rather than something to be enjoyed.
There are other minor frustrations too, such as the plastic moulding near to your right foot, which rubs against the side of your shoe when pressing the throttle pedal if you’ve got slightly larger feet.
The new car costs from £22,085 to buy
Rather oddly, too, the rear view mirror is wide but strangely shallow, making it feel like your rear view is somewhat restricted.
That’s particularly the case when the seating position feels quite high, even in its lowest position.
That’s not the only issue with the T-Roc’s interior either. It’s superbly made and certainly well executed, with excellent quality plastics and good build-quality throughout.
There are body colour sections on the doors and dashboard in matt finish too, helping to lift the otherwise dark surroundings.
It’s a bit of a shame that those sections don’t continue to the rear doors though, because it makes it feel like the second-class cabin compared to the front, as a result.
The interior of the car can be colour-matched to the exterior
However, for all the T-Roc’s undoubted talent, unlike many of its rivals, it seems to lack any kind of design features or neat touches.
While others adopt different shapes or highlighted areas, the Volkswagen just feels a bit clinical with almost a designed-by-numbers feel about it.
That’s a real shame because the T-Roc is very practical with lots of head and legroom in the back and also a good, deep, boot – as well as a very welcome space-saver spare wheel.
Overall, it’s hard not to come away with a high level of respect for the T-Roc.
As we said at the start, there’s now suddenly a lot of choice in this class and there’s no doubt that this VW has what it takes to compete with the best on paper.
Those who are looking for something with a little more soul or flair though, might want to widen their search elsewhere.
The T-Roc has plenty of rivals in the burgeoning small SUV segment
Price: from £22,085
Engine: Turbo-petrol – 1.5-litre
Power: 0 to 60mph in 8.3 seconds, 127mph top speed
Fuel economy: 53.3mpg CO2 emissions: 120g/km
Rivals: Citroën C3 Aircross, Hyundai Kona, Kia Stonic