Parkers overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 4.4

Update 1: Welcome and introduction

2019 Volkswagen T-Roc

The ‘Roc’ arrives on the scene...
No before you ask, we haven’t got Dwayne Johnson arriving in the Parkers office but it’s just past midway through the year and the whole country is feeling the effects of the heatwave. At 37 degrees it’s like a hot sweaty summer day in Cairns so as the sun continues to beat down, we welcome our new arrival in the shape of VW’s brand new T-Roc baby SUV.

I think we’ve all seen the ad on TV where the very confident small black ram stands his ground to the onslaught of the farmer, a sheep dog and a bull. But it’s with VW’s T-Roc he finally meets his match but the title “Born Confident” applies as much to the car as it does to the animal.

The new T-Roc is VW’s smallest SUV (until the micro-sized T-Cross arrives) and this puts it firmly in the sights of some high-flyers in the smaller size SUV market. The competition reveals the likes of Kia’s Stonic, the highly popular SEAT Arona and the higher trim levels sports the likes of Audi’s Q2 and the MINI Countryman so it’s a pretty jam packed arena.

VW T-Roc main interior

Keeping in trim...
Our own ram comes in a wonderful nuclear-infused ‘Turmeric yellow metallic’. You can almost see the fusion in action as the sun gleans across the metallic paintwork. It looks great and we’ve had experience before with this colour scheme - having VW’s Arteon in the same colour guise. It gets some really positive comments when you’re out and about.

Trim levels start with the base spec ‘S’ and progresses upwards with the SE, Design, SEL and finally the top-spec R-Line. The array of engine choice is quite expansive with 1.0 115PS TSI and 1.5 150PS TSI petrol variants across the range and a 7 speed DSG automatic option for the higher output engine. For diesel aficionados, a 1.6 115PS TDI and a 2.0 150PS TDI are on offer. The later also being available with a 7 speed DSG automatic option.

At the higher end of the spec sheet, the SEL and R-Line trim levels offer an additional powertrain in the form of a 2.0 TSI 4-MOTION 190PS unit available as a 7-speed DSG automatic giving the ‘Roc’ quite a punch and of course offering VW’s 4MOTION 4 wheel drive option – great for off-roading.

Talking with VW, they expect 80% of the T-Roc’s sold in the UK to be petrol powered and three-quarters will be to private buyers so it won’t be a mega company car favourite. The aspiration is that it will join high flyers such as the Golf and Polo in the top end of VW sales charts in the not too distant future.

VW T-Roc long term test side on image

Options and extra factory equipment...
Our car KY19 LYA is the mid-range being ‘Design’ trim level and has a really responsive and extremely quiet 1.5TSI (150PS) 4-cylinder, 6-speed manual petrol engine. Insurance is group 15 and CO emissions are 123g/km, with a first year VED of £170 and current subsequent yearly rates of £145. Remember VED rates have changed and after April 1st 2017 the fuel type and the car's new list price (if over £40,000) determine the rate paid.

Check out your own car VED rate here on Parkers

Pricing on the range starts at £20,005 (On the road recommended retail) for the ‘S’ trim car and basic equipment is good although there is no Sat-Nav on the mid and lower trim levels. You need to progress up to the SEL trim before you qualify for any additional navigational goodies.

Standard equipment on the ‘Design’ is impressive and includes 17 inch Mayfield alloys, Composition Media system, range adjustable halogen headlamps, 2-zone air conditioning, front assist and city emergency braking, lane assist and adaptive cruise control to name but a few.

16 inch ‘Chester’ alloys feature on the base spec ‘S’ trim notching up an inch to 17’s as standard with SE and Design trim levels. These progress to 18 inch alloys on the SEL and mighty 19 inch ‘Suzuka’ alloys on the R-Line.

The car also has the following factory options (and costings) over and above the standard ‘Design’ trim level specification.

  • Winter Pack - heated front seats, heated windscreen washer jets and low washer fluid warning light (£300)
  • Carpet mats – front and rear (£85)
  • Rear-view camera – displayed via the vehicle’s infotainment system display (£185)
  • Lumbar support – for both driver and front passenger’s seats (£70)
  • Beats soundpack – including eight channel digital amplifier, subwoofer, 400 watt output and six speakers (£425)
  • Turmeric Metallic Yellow paint work - with a no cost option of Black / Turmeric Yellow ‘Tracks 4’ upholstery and customisable dashpad in Turmeric Yellow (£595)

Space in the rear is very generous and the standard boot size is 445 litres which is 45 litres more than the SEAT Arona for instance. This is increased to 1290 litres when the rear seats are folded down flat.

In the boot the rear floor area can be lowered (similar to the Arona) which creates about 10 cms more in height. However, this is limited to front-wheel-drive models only and you lose out if you have a 4-MOTION drive train. The additional room is welcome when you need extra space and every extra litre counts.

VW T-Roc long term test boot image

Pocket money...
At the time of writing the price for our own car is £25,805 which includes all the fitted options.

On-the-road recommended retail pricing for other trim levels are the 'S' starting from £20,005, the SE starting from £21,670, the 'Design' starting from £22,370, the 'SEL' starting from £25,765 and the top-of-the-range 'R-line' starting from £27,690. Of course any options that are selected will be extra. We do think however, that some of the higher trim levels are overly expensive especially when you are approaching the £30,000 area – the choice on the market at that level gets much more comprehensive and varied.

The manufacturer offers a very nice and slick on-line configurator where you can choose your car trim level and options available to that car. It’s really easy to use and not at all cluttered. We built a car in about 10 minutes without having visited the page before.

Check out the full vehicle specification on Parkers.co.uk
 

Update 2: Initial driving impressions

We’ve now had the chance to cover quite a few miles in the T-Roc and VW’s baby SUV has been a very good all-round positive experience. It’s one of the most comfortable SUV’s out there, soaking up the bumps better than the Audi Q2 and the MINI Countryman. It’s a closer call when comparing the SEAT Arona and out on the road there’s not much to choose between the two. The ‘Roc’ has a fairly high-biased driving position and the view of the road is impressive giving the driver an extra swathe of confidence.

VW T-Roc Driving Impressions

On fast main roads the T-Roc is solidly in control and the lack of ambient noise in the cabin is testament to the excellent sound proofing and mouse-silent engine. Cruise into bends and the chassis copes well - just as you’d expect. However, when pushing hard on twisty roads, there can be a certain amount of body-roll especially when the road surface becomes bumpier and more uneven.  It’s not a problem as such, but the car tells you quite firmly when you’re reaching the limit.

Inside it feels spacious and with the extra cabin height and headroom, gives the impression of an interior larger than it actually is. In the rear there’s plenty of leg room even for six-footers like myself and the boot will happily hold a couple of large suitcases and some bags in reserve.

The power plant in KY19 LYA is VW’s 1.5TSI 147bhp manual 6-speed petrol unit (although it’s badged a TSI 150) which suits the car well and is extremely quiet. At some times it was difficult to confirm that the engine was actually running. A sprint off the line brings the 147 horses into full swing and there’s no hint of any lag. The power unit is very responsive and will have you approaching 60mph in a whisper over 8 seconds - so it’s certainly no slouch.

VW T-Roc Driving Impressions

As I write this update, the word on the street is that VW will shortly unleash a fire-breathing T-Roc ‘R’. UK orders are currently being taken for this light speed super-hot version with a pricing tag starting from just over £38k.

Specifications show that it looks to be sharing some of the running gear from the Golf R such as 19 inch wheels and 17 inch brakes so expect around 300bhp and a 4MOTION drivetrain. The claimed 0-62mph is under 5 seconds so on paper this is in Millennium Falcon territory!

Update 3: Equipment - the 'Beats Audio Package' option

2019 VW T-Roc Beats Audio

Tub thumping bass...
Our T-Roc has the ‘Beats Audio Soundpack’ package fitted as a factory option which comes in at not an overly expensive price of £425. The 'Beats' brand was founded by music producer and rapper Dr. Dre and Interscope A&M records co-founder Jimmy Lovine back in 2006 and is synonymous with the rise in popularity mainly of electronically EQ’d ultra-expensive aftermarket headphones. Today 'Beats' is part of the Apple technology company and that same ‘EQ’ feel has progressed over to compliment complete sound systems.

The heart of the system is a DSP (Digital Signal Processor) and an 8ch 300w amplifier (manufactured by Panasonic in Slovakia which is exactly the same as the one we reviewed in the SEAT Arona) - this is located underneath the passenger seat. The unit drives seven sound system speakers in total. Two full-range door speakers, two full-range speakers in the rear, two tweeters in the A-pillar for the high frequencies and one subwoofer integrated in the spare wheel well.

On closer examination the sub seems to comprise of 2 x 50w 10 inch units manufactured by PSS of Hungary with each driver running at 2 ohms.The location of the sub is quite a clever affair being mounted inside the space-saver spare wheel. It’s a novel idea because you get the bottom-end frequencies of a discrete subwoofer without having to sacrifice any additional boot space. Positioning of the sub in the boot space is clearly marked (‘front’) as it seems to be directional to some degree. The choice of a very low 2 ohms impedance for the sub is interesting as most speakers run within the 4-8 ohms ranges. At 2 ohms you’re running more current and creating more heat but with higher output as the resistance in the network is lower. Here we start to get into the technical realms of impedance matching and how output devices (in this case the amplifier) are matched to the load (in this case the speaker). But in all instances they should be matched.

The on-board Beats 'EQ' looks to be a basic 3-bander consisting of Bass, Mid and Treble. The EQ was fairly limited given only three bands and a five-bander would have given the user more control. There are also no user selectable pre-sets available as everything is 'manual' using the three adjustable sliders. Each band is labelled +9 to -9 so we are presuming this is the amount of db boost or cut for each one.

2019 VW T-Roc Beats Audio Panansonic Amp

In action the 'Beats' kicks out the bass frequencies with a healthy tub-thumping throb and there’s plenty of rumble and lots of pumping mid-bass slam, too - but it’s not particularly refined. It suits some genres of music better than others and is probably tailored towards a more younger audience. However the distortion is low and the DSP works well and for the price, is a reasonable upgrade from the standard package.

Roundup - the good bits and what we like

  • Low distortion, good DSP
  • You can run it quite hard and still talk in the car
  • Bass can sometimes be quite smooth
  • Mid bass slam works well on some tracks
  • Sub in the boot – nice thought out location

On the other hand what didn’t quite hit the mark

  • Mediocre channel separation
  • Mid-range seems narrow and overly gained
  • No individual control over the sub-woofer gain
  • Only three channels of EQ
  • Sub feels limited with the low frequencies that it handles

For a more in-depth and wider analysis of at the ‘Beats’ setup, see our SEAT Arona long term review which carries an identical setup on board.

Update 4: Getting your hands on a new T-Roc

So you’re itching to get motoring in a brand new VW T-Roc, but how does it stack up to the fierce competition in this sector?. We’ve selected SEAT’s 1.5TSI 150bhp Arona as a direct comparison and a worthy rival. Both cars share the same VW derived 150PS power unit. Saying that, for similar money (albeit with a slightly higher APR), you can actually buy a slightly higher spec Arona. We found an ‘FR Sport’ trim level on offer with similar outgoings so it’s a stiff choice.

Here’s’ some great examples of how to buy whether buying on PCP (Personal Contract Purchase) or using a personal loan.

If you’re buying on PCP and want to keep the car at the end of the agreement, you’ll need to pay the final optional payment. But if you’re not too bothered about owning the car and like the idea of switching your metal every few years, then it’s an option worth considering.

Additionally, buyers can lease their car using PCH (Personal Contract Hire) Leasing which works rather like a long-term car rental. You just hand your keys back when the lease period finishes.

VW T-Roc Front three-quarters - Cadwell Park

*PCP Deal (Sourced directly from the manufacturer)
Car: VW T-Roc SE 1.5 TSI 150PS 6 Speed Manual

Personal finance option
Duration 4 years
10,000 miles p/a
48 Monthly payments of £205
Customer deposit £5757
Manufacturer deposit contribution £1250
Total amount payable £26,127
Total amount of credit £16,623
APR 4.9%
Retail cash price £23,630
Optional final payment (to retain the car) £9475

VW T-Roc Rear three-quarters - Cadwell Park

*PCP Deal (Sourced directly from the manufacturer)
Car: SEAT Arona FR Sport 1.5 TSI 150PS 6 Speed Manual

Personal finance option
Duration 4 years
10,000 miles p/a
48 Monthly payments of £228
Customer deposit £5500
Manufacturer deposit contribution £1500
Total amount payable £26,611
Total amount of credit £16,525
APR 6.2%
Retail cash price £23,525
Optional final payment (to retain the car) £8877

SEAT Arona 1.5TSi FR - Front three-quarters

*Personal Loan Deal (Independently sourced deals)
Car: Your choice – you just borrow the money, pay the seller and the car is yours to keep

Personal finance option with an independent provider
Provider – ** Tesco Bank
Amount of loan £23,500
Duration 5 years
60 monthly payments of £420
APR 2.9%
Total amount repayable £25,249

** Tesco Bank is just one example of the many online retailers offering personal loans. At the time of this update, we found Tesco Bank had one of the lowest APR figures meaning your monthly repayments are kept as low as possible.

SEAT Arona 1.5TSi FR - Rear three-quarters

* Deals are correct at time of publication but are subject to change without prior notice. Everyone’s financial circumstances are different and credit is not always available – Parkers cannot recommend a deal for you specifically. These deals are indicative examples of some packages available online during the week of October 16th 2019.

Update 5: Conclusion and round-up

We’ve had the chance to put the new VW T-Roc through a good variation of driving conditions in the short term it’s been with us. From the bumpy Fenland roads of East Anglia, to the faster motorways and highways stretching to the North and South of the country. Using the Parkers brand new 'MPP' (Miles Per Pound) Calculator, our 1.5 TSi Evo 150PS Design T-Roc will cover around 7.4 miles for every pound spent in fuel.

So what do we think of the whole experience? See here what we liked and also which arrows didn’t quite hit the target.

Thumbs up!

  • We really like the 1.5TSI (150PS) engine. It has plenty of power and when you need that extra ‘grunt’ can easily deliver oodles of ‘get up and go’ when required. It’s great for overtaking and is extremely responsive.
  • Inside the cabin VW have done a great job in keeping road noise to a minimum. It’s a very quiet environment to be in and the 1.5TSI is quiet in its own right.
  • It’s generally a good ride and very comfortable although bumpy roads are an exception. You can easily cover a few hundred miles and still arrived feeling quite fresh.
  • Impressive ‘5-Star Euro NCAP’ safety rating. VW again excels with another car hitting the maximum 5 Star rating following in the likes of the Arteon, Polo and Golf. It’s now difficult not to find a VW that doesn’t have 5 stars.
  • Great off-roading capability with VW’s 4-MOTION drive train.
  • Good boot space – plenty in hand and more than others in the same class.

Thumbs down!

  • The higher trim levels in comparison are expensive.  Mid-range trims such as the ‘Design’ don’t include any navigation (although it is optional). You need to move to the higher SEL trim level to have navigation fitted as standard equipment.
  • The handling can be described are rather flat and uninspiring. It can also be a little bouncy in high speed cormers on roads where the surface is less than optimum. Others in the class are a sharper drive.
  • Some reviewers in the team have commented that the interior feels rather cheap and low-end especially when compared to the Audi Q2 and the MINI Countryman.
  • Disappointing to find that no trim levels offer electric front seats.
  • Beat Audio Package (Optional) – we’ve looked at ‘Beats’ before in extended depth in our SEAT Arona review as the both cars are fitted with similar packages. We haven’t changed our minds on this. It has a good low distortion DSP but suffers from a range of anomalies – not really for the aficionado.

 Latest Volkswagen T-Roc 1.5TSi EVO 150ps Design 6 speed manual stats - Updated 18/11/2019
 Current mileage
 3718
 Real-world average fuel economy
 44.89 mpg
 Real-world miles-per-litre (combined overall)
 10.01 mpl
 Official combined fuel economy (WLTP)
 50.0 mpg
 Total fuel used cumulative
 325.48 litres
 Total cost of fuel used
 £411.93
 Parkers 'MPP' (Miles Per Pound) calculation
 7.4
 Car joined Parkers fleet
 August 2019
 Car departed Parkers fleet
 November 2019

Percy Lawman, Production Manager, Parkers - November 18th 2019