We drive Volkswagen's new small SUV on Irish roads
Pros: Personalisation and style, optional infotainment, spacious cabin
Cons: Finish in certain arears, expensive options
The Volkswagen T-Roc is a new small SUV that sits between the firm’s highly successful Golf and Tiguan models in terms of size and style. Demand for SUV-style cars in Ireland is currently booming, and Volkswagen expects the T-Roc to become one of its best-selling models in years to come, thanks to its funky styling and youthful name. The T-Roc isn’t short on rivals however, with cars like the Nissan Juke, Opel Mokka X, BMW X1 and MINI Countryman to compete with. We spent a week with the T-Roc shortly after its Irish launch to see what it is like to live with.
What is it like?
We love how the T-Roc looks and it marks a fresh styling approach for Volkswagen. The T-Roc boasts rugged features and compact dimensions, and it matches the Audi Q2 for outright appeal. It’s available with a comprehensive range of customisation options including 24 colour combinations and various wheel choices. Base models make do with steel wheels and hubcaps, but our high specification ‘Sport’ test car is well-equipped with 17-inch ‘Cortex’ alloy wheels, tinted rear windows and chrome detailing.
The T-Roc offers more interior room for passengers and their luggage than the Volkswagen Golf, with a higher ride height and a noticeable increase in headroom. This means that four tall passengers can sit comfortably on long journeys, and boot space is generous (392 litres) and among the best in class. While the T-Roc’s dashboard design is funkier than most of Volkswagen’s latest models and nice to look at, the quality of the plastics is lacking in certain areas around the doors.
This high specification Sport model is equipped with Volkswagen’s superb glass-faced eight-inch touch screen infotainment system with integrated Apple CarPlay. Our test car also boasts Volkswagen’s Active Info Display which adds digital readouts behind the steering wheel, and it looks especially good at night time. This example also has an optional Panoramic sunroof which floods the cabin with light, but it’s an expensive optional upgrade.
There is a choice of three engines in Ireland, starting with a 1.0-litre TSI petrol with 115 horsepower, a larger 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine with 150 horsepower and the sole diesel option in the range is a 2.0-litre TDI unit with 150 horsepower. We drove the diesel T-Roc with optional all-wheel-drive and DSG automatic transmission, and it is an adept performer with lots of low down grunt. It can cover the 0-100km/h sprint in 8.4 seconds, while fuel economy is reasonable. The best economy we could achieve was around 6.5 litres/100km, while annual motor tax is listed at €280. We can foresee the smaller 1.0-litre TSI petrol being the default choice with buyers here in Ireland.
The T-Roc is based on Volkswagen’s MQB platform and it drives with assertiveness out on the road. It leans less in corners than you’d expect and it is quite fun to drive. What’s more, ride quality is good with cosseting suspension setup on bumpy back roads and over pot holes. Even with the large 17-inch alloy wheels fitted to our test car, the ride was comfortable, however the cabin does get noisy at higher speeds. The T-Roc is well suited to town-based driving, with great visibility out of the cabin and light steering when parking.
Prices for the new Volkswagen T-Roc start from €24,750 for the base specification T-Roc model. As standard, it boasts a 6.5-inch infotainment system and various safety aids including a pedestrian monitoring system, Lane Assist and Hillstart Assist too. The mid-range Design model is our bet, as it gains 16-inch alloy wheels, and App Connect with Apple CarPlay among many other features. The range-topping Sport model is generously kitted with features such as 17-inch alloy wheels, sports seats, full LED headlights and the vibrant Active Info Digital Display system, but prices here start at circa €30k, which puts you in entry level Volkswagen Tiguan territory.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
The Volkswagen T-Roc is a trendy and spacious alternative to the Volkswagen Golf, with a comfortable drive, surprising amounts of interior space and lots of personalisation touches. When you pitch it against more expensive rivals such as the Audi Q2 and the MINI Countryman, the T-Roc states a great case too. We would have expected a higher quality finish in certain areas of the cabin however, and many of the desirable options quickly ramps its asking price. For a fun drive and great family friendly credentials however, and the T-Roc more than lives up to the task.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Volkswagen T-Roc Sport
Prices from: €24,750
Price as tested: €35,570
Annual Road Tax: €280
Engine: 1968cc four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Top Speed: 200km/h
0-100km/h: 8.4 seconds
Transmission: Six speed manual
Body style: SUV
Boot Space: 392 litres