“The T-Roc is roomier than a typical small car, and provides a good degree of comfort boosted by the high-riding cabin.”
The VW newcomer is a rational choice in the increasingly crowded SUV market, Simon Harris discovers in its first drive.
It could be contended that the Volkswagen T-Roc shows in microcosm how consumer tastes and expectations for cars have developed in the past decade or so.
Volkswagen’s latest SUV borrows some of the letters of its name from the discontinued Scirocco coupé and takes the Scirocco’s place at Volkswagen’s plant in Palmela, Portugal.
The T-Roc is likely to sell many more per year than the Scirocco and two-door coupés count among several sectors of the car market that have ceded ground and share to SUVs and crossovers.
The T-Roc sits below the Touareg (with a new model due later this year), seven-seat Tiguan Allspace and five-seat Tiguan in the line-up, with room beneath it for the forthcoming Volkswagen T-Cross.
It arrives in a growing sector, which was arguably defined by the Nissan Juke in 2010, and has recent new arrivals with the Citroën C3 Aircross, Hyundai Kona, Kia Stonic and Seat Arona.
We sampled some high-end versions late last year, but the first UK driving opportunity allowed us to try the more popular 1.0 TSI version, although the 1.6 TDI, likely to be the most popular variant among businesses, is still some months away.
The three-cylinder engine develops 115PS and has CO2 emissions of 117g/km, which will appeal to low-mileage company car drivers as it avoids the diesel supplement on benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax as well as the P11D price premium.
The perky engine’s 148Nm of torque at 2,000rpm gives it a diesel-like feel in the mid-range.
The T-Roc’s solid and purposeful exterior design lends itself well to the current ‘born confident’ TV advertising campaign, while inside looks smart and high quality.
The Design equipment grade comes with colour-coordinated trim inserts, that make it feel more fun than the other versions.
But, while everything looks like it belongs in an upmarket car, the dashboard and doors don’t have soft-touch materials on the upper elements, where you might have expected to find them elsewhere in the Volkswagen range.
It’s based on the SE, and includes cloth seats with height adjustment for front seats, split folding rear seats, two USB charging sockets, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, electrically folding door mirrors, adaptive cruise control with autonomous emergency braking and front and rear parking sensors.
Extra features that distinguish the Design from SE are a unique-look 17-inch alloy wheels, contrasting roof colour, rear privacy glass, alternative bumper design and a driver fatigue alert.
The T-Roc is roomier than a typical small car, and provides a good degree of comfort boosted by the high-riding cabin.
There’s a good combination of comfort and driving pleasure, as the T-Roc offers user-friendliness around town and agility on high-speed roads away from urban sprawls.
The T-Roc offers strong user-chooser appeal for drivers in this category because of the brand perception, but its attractiveness has greater depth than badge alone, and highly competitive running costs should also make it a rational choice.