Cheerful SUV is great to drive and packed with kit
- Unusual, customisable looks
- Engaging drive
- Low running costs
- Large boot for class
- Plenty of engine choices
- Long options list
- Sub-par interior material quality
- Can get expensive with options
- Cheaper rivals on similar underpinnings
Volkswagen’s T-Roc is the smallest SUV currently on sale from the German brand, although the forthcoming T-Cross will sit below it. Early indications are that it's a hugely popular model, with strong sales and particularly favourable resale values, which allows VW to be able to offer decent finance deals.
It’s designed to nestle beneath the Tiguan in terms of size and price, and shares some common components with the pricier Audi Q2.
The T-Roc has come about due to the huge growth in SUV sales in recent years. Naturally, VW expects it to be a huge success in the segment, and hopes that it will join the Polo and Golf in becoming one of its best-selling models.
That is a tall order, considering it has the likes of the technically similar Audi Q2 to take on, along with our Car of the Year 2017 - the Toyota C-HR - and other small premium SUVs like the BMW X1, MINI Countryman and Mercedes-Benz GLA. It also has more mainstream rivals to best, including the Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008 and Vauxhall Mokka X.
Its unusual name is meant to appeal more to the younger end of the car market – ‘T’ is to make sure the baby SUV sticks to VW’s regimented naming structure for SUVs, while the Roc part not only links back to the concept car of the same name, but the Scirocco coupe.
Particularly significant is that while the T-Roc doesn’t replace the Scirocco in the marketplace, it has taken over the coupe’s production line slot, marking the end of the sportier three-door Volkswagen.
How big is the 2018 Volkswagen T-Roc?
At 4.23 metres long, the T-Roc is 4cm shorter than the Audi Q2 and 10cm shorter than a Volkswagen Golf. The 445-litre boot has prompted VW to claim that it offers the largest luggage space in its class; it’s much larger than its Q2 sibling and the Mini Countryman.
Visually, it's less bulky than many SUVs of this size, yet from the driver's seat all-round visibility is a strong point, helping the T-Roc's manoeuvrability.
Volkswagen T-Roc 2018: engine choices
Volkswagen’s engine line-up for the T-Roc means there’s plenty of choice. There are 115hp 1.0-litre, 150hp 1.5-litre and 190hp 2.0-litre TSI petrol engines available, while the diesel end of the scale is populated by 115hp 1.6-litre and 150hp 2.0-litre TDI engines.
The UK best-seller is expected to be the 1.0-litre TSI, and that's a good engine, but our reviewers prefer driving the 1.5 TSI Evo as it suits the T-Roc's fun character better. The 2.0, however, is probably best avoided because it's only available in top-spec SEL and R-Line specifications and isn't as good to drive as the other engines.
Impressive list of kit and technology
The T-Roc can be had with a huge amount of equipment and high-grade technology found on other VW models like the Golf and the Arteon, whichever of its trim levels you choose. Launched in S, SE, Design and SEL specifications, the sportier R-Line joined the line-up in April 2018.
Among the options listings, you can add kit like wireless smartphone charging, VW’s Active Info Display which uses an all-digital instrument cluster, plus Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and a very sharp infotainment system.
Since it’s an SUV, you can also add Dynamic Chassis Control, which not only has four on-road modes but two off-road settings. Those hold on to gears longer and automatically activate hill descent control when you’re going down steep declines.
Volkswagen T-Roc: personalisation
One of the T-Roc’s biggest headlines though is the availability of tailoring your car to you. Buy one new (and of at least Design trim) and you’ll have access to 24 different colour combinations for your own exterior look. There are several bright paint colours to choose from that can be complemented by contrasting roof colours.
It’s the same inside too; you can tweak the colour of the dashboard inserts and seat upholstery trim to match the exterior colour of the car. Just a pity the plastics feel a little downmarket for a car that isn't cheap to buy.
Volkswagen UK is currently offering £500 towards your PCP deposit on a new T-Roc. You can pick from SEL, Design, S, R-Line and SE models.
However, APR will be payable at 5.2%, which still makes this particular deal pretty pricey.
As an example, the VW website details an SE 1.0 TSI manual with mileage set at 10,000 miles per year on a three-year PCP. Monthly payments are £272 if you contribute a £3,000 deposit*.
To put that deal into context with the T-Roc's main rivals, using the same deposit, identical agreement period and mileage limit, see below:
Audi Q2 1.0 TFSI manual Sport (the very same engine...)
Monthly payments: £310
Deposit contribution: £1,000
Toyota C-HR Icon 1.2 petrol manual
Deposit contribution: n/a
Volvo XC40 Momentum
Monthly payments: £349
Deposit contribution: n/a
MINI Countryman Cooper S manual
Monthly payments: £312
Deposit contribution: £550
So you can see from the above numbers that the Toyota C-HR represents better value than the T-Roc in monthly payments, despite the £500 VW throws into its deal. Audi's Q2 comes close, though, thanks to the £1,000 the firm will chuck into the mix.
More deals from VW and other car companies can be found in our Weekly Deal Watch.
The Parkers Verdict
The Volkswagen T-Roc will definitely appeal to small families looking for something practical yet funky to look at. It’s arguably easier on the eye than Audi’s Q2, has more boot space than it and is expected to be a little cheaper too. It’s not as fun to drive as a MINI Countryman, but it’ll be a safe pair of hands for many small crossover buyers.