3.5 out of 5 3.5
Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

Sporty T-Roc proves you can have a dynamic family SUV

Volkswagen T-Roc R (19 on) - rated 3.5 out of 5
Enlarge 14 photos

At a glance

New price £41,750 - £41,750
Lease from new From £452 p/m View lease deals
Used price £28,770 - £40,110
Used monthly cost From £718 per month
Fuel Economy 31.7 - 33.2 mpg
Road tax cost £520
Insurance group 33 - 34 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • Searing acceleration and performance
  • Relatively low key to look at
  • Four-wheel drive security

CONS

  • Overly-firm, uncomfortable ride
  • Unimpressive passenger room
  • Expensive options soon ramp up price

Volkswagen T-Roc R rivals

Written by Keith Adams on

The Volkswagen T-Roc has received a light facelift for 2022. To the casual observer it’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it upgrade, with a slight update to the model line-up as well as bringing it’s tech into line with the Volkswagen Golf Mk8. The high-performance T-Roc R also receives few tweaks, but as one of the original quick family SUVs, it has attracted a strong following, and fans would say it didn’t really need changing.

So, the T-Roc R’s power remains unchanged, and the exterior’s brush-up has been limited to a series of subtle tweaks which keep it looking up-to date. To turn it into an R, it gets lowered, stiffened suspension, a standard-fit DSG transmission and four-wheel drive to harness its 300hp maximum power output.

Rivals? The high-performance SUV is still a niche product, but there are a number of Volkswagen Group counterparts to choose from – so the Audi SQ2 and Cupra Ateca are likely to be on the same shopping list. If you want something a little more subtle, and still need 300hp, how about taking a look at the Peugeot 3008 in Hybrid4 form?

What’s it like inside?

The T-Roc R’s interior isn’t vastly different from the more vanilla models in the range. So you get a clear and configurable digital instrument display with a generous 8.0-inch screen and a 9.2-inch central infotainment touchscreen. It’s not the latest system as featured in the Golf, so you get a physical volume knob and control button – no bad thing given how unappealing the newer car’s touch-sensitive pads.

Quality and fit and finish are all impressive, with plenty of soft-touch materials used in this facelifted model. Being an R, you get blue stitching throughout the interior, as well as a flat-bottomed steering wheel packed with touch-sensitive controls and R-button for the drive modes.

Practicality is adequate – although it’s very slightly shorter than the Golf, it has a similar amount of interior space and a much larger boot. That means families – and young families in particular – will find it more than big enough. However, the Ateca is much larger inside. For much more detail about the T-Roc’s interior and practicality, read the standard car’s full review.

Comfort

The T-Roc R gets sports seats upfront that are trimmed in suede-effect material with R-branding. They’re firm and very supportive, with ample side and lumbar bolstering to grip you in the bends and stave off backache on longer journeys. They initially feel rather too firm, but that impression wears off the longer you drive it.

The driving position benefits from the raised perspective you get from an SUV, with excellent forward visibility and a feeling of spaciousness, thanks to ample headroom. Rear seat passengers aren’t quite so lucky – the rear backrest is rather upright and kneeroom is rather tight.

Safety

The T-Roc hasn’t been tested by EuroNCAP since launch, so its score relates to the 2018 test – standards are tougher now. Having said that, its five-star rating points to it being a substantially safe car today. As well as scoring highly for passenger protection, it also has the latest crash avoidance technology, such as Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and standard-fit lane-keeping assistance.

Adaptive cruise control is an excellent safety feature, and it’s standard on the T-Roc. It helps maintain distance on the motorway and in flowing traffic, and in testing it didn’t suffer from any inconsistencies that use to mar these systems.

What’s it like to drive?

The T-Roc R gets a slightly detuned version of the Golf R’s engine. So, it’s a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine developing 300hp and 400Nm of torque (pulling power). Its claimed 0-62mph time is 4.9 seconds with a maximum speed limited to 155mph, which places it at the sharp end of the grid of performance SUVs.

Acceleration is very impressive – the DSG transmission is responsive, shifting through its seven speeds eagerly when needed. In Comfort and Eco mode, response is lazier, and it favours changing up early to maximise efficiency. It’s also smooth in the mid-range, making it a reasonable cruiser as well as a sprinter. If you decide to change gear manually, you can operate it using the R-specific steering-wheel-mounted paddles.

It has four-wheel drive and uses the latest version of VW’s 4Motion system used across the range. It’s not as advanced as the system used by the Golf R, but can vary the amount of power sent to the front and rear wheels, which results in excellent traction traction off the line, contributing to the car’s sub-five-second 0-62mph time.

It’s an R, so if you’re looking for a fast and secure family SUV, you’ve come to the right place. As well as being blessed with genuinely rapid acceleration, it is superbly responsive and in Race drive mode, comes complete with an appealing exhaust note. Controversially, with the optional Akrapovic sports exhaust system, it pops and crackles but at least socially-sensitive drivers can dial it out.

The good news is that its considerable performance can be confidently used all year round, with exemplary grip, poise and traction. Drive models are Eco, Normal, Comfort, and Race (instead of Sport), and it is possible to set it up to your liking by delving into the personalisation options in Individual mode. That means the T-Roc R can be relatively relaxed when you want it, such as on the motorway, and keenly engaging at other times.

For sporty drivers, good body control means it inspires confidence in corners. It feels agile and good fun, as long as the road is smooth. The steering varies the amount of assistance dependent on speed, which means you get a light tiller in town and plenty of confidence-inspiring weight when going faster. It turns in well, tracks accurately, and in the right conditions, can be fun. Sadly, the ride quality, even in Comfort mode, is on the wrong side of firm – that might work well on track, but it’s far too unsettled and is downright uncomfortable in Race mode.

What models and trims are available?

There’s only one version of T-Roc R, but it’s available with a number of options, which rapidly lift its competitive entry price point. There are many visual tweaks that set apart the R from the rest of the range – these include a sports front bumper, individual daytime running lights and standard 18-inch alloy wheels (which can be upgraded to 19-inches).

Other R styling touches include aluminium door-mirrors, a large tailgate spoiler, and tinted rear lights with LED graphics and a new rear bumper and quad exhaust pipes. It now comes with traffic-sign recognition, optional connected voice control, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

To find out how we rate the Volkswagen T-Roc R, read on for our verdict.

Volkswagen T-Roc R rivals

Other Volkswagen T-Roc models: