Volkswagen T-Roc R 2019 review
Volkswagen T-Roc R 2019What is it?
It’s not often that the Golf R has company, but it’s a fairly apt sign of the times that the newest member of the loftiest order of Wolfsburg’s high-performance family is SUV-shaped. This is the T-Roc R, and it joins the likes of the Audi SQ2, Cupra Ateca and BMW X2 M35i in the ever expanding performance crossover sphere.
Like its SQ2 and Ateca relatives (not to mention the aforementioned Golf), the T-Roc R is based on Volkswagen’s MQB architecture, and makes use of the now exceptionally ubiquitous ‘EA888’ turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder motor. It develops the same 296bhp and 295lb ft as in its cousins, all of which is deployed via a seven-speed twin-clutch ‘box and Haldex clutch-based four-wheel drive system.
A new aluminium subframe helps facilitate a far sportier suspension calibration, while the uprated 17in performance brakes that are optional on the Golf R are thrown in as standard. Unlike the Audi SQ2, adaptive dampers are available as a £695 option, while an Akrapovic exhaust can also be optioned for £3000. Our test car had both, as well as the19in ’Pretoria’ alloys and 8in Discover Media infotainment system that are standard fit on UK spec cars.
What's it like?
On Nice’s congested inner city roads the T-Roc’s sporting pretentions are reasonably well masked, but still a long way from inconspicuous. With the dampers in their midway setting, vertical body movements are kept tightly in check over lumps, bumps and sleeping policemen, but not to such an extreme extent that compressions force the wind from your lungs. The T-Roc breathes a little easier in Comfort mode, though it seems there’s no escaping the often violently loud thumps from the suspension as the wheels pass over smaller ruts and expansion joints. It’s certainly more liveable than an SQ2 or a X2 M35i, however.
Breaking out of Nice and the midday traffic, we begin a hard charge up the technical mountain roads that lead to Col de Vence. With everything set to Race, the T-Roc R proves brutally effective. The DSG ‘box’s tendency to be caught out is minimised, and the EA888 motor is as heavy-hitting as ever. More than anything though, it’s the levels of lateral grip the T-Roc is capable of generating that impresses most.
It corners incredibly neutrally, with its 4Motion four-wheel-drive capable of effectively eliminating understeer entirely. Turn the wonderfully weighted, precise steering wheel and the front end bites in towards the apex hard, before the rear-end digs in to slingshot you out the other end. Any meaningful hip wriggling is clinically choreographed out of its cornering routine, but the tenacity with which it clings to the tarmac has an appeal all of its own. And while you’re aware of a heightened level of body roll through fast sweeping bends, it’s not so prevalent so as to detract from the otherwise highly enjoyable process of driving this car fast on a fantastic road.
That said, the driving environment itself is a bit of a let down. The hard interior plastics that were acceptable in lower grade versions of the T-Roc feel drab and out of place in £38,450 performance model. An X2 M35i feels far classier in this regard, as does an SQ2 – albeit to a lesser extent. Practicality is good, though. There’s enough room for taller passengers to sit in reasonable comfort in the second row, while its 392-litre boot betters the Audi’s (355 litres), if not the BMW’s (470 litres).
Should I buy one?
Based on our brief French test drive it seems fair to conclude that as an overall package, the T-Roc trumps both.
A UK drive will provide the ultimate acid test, but it seems to ride considerably better than on its adaptive dampers, and absolutely doesn’t give anything away for sheer cross-country pace or engagement. Dare I say it, this might even be the first time where the old adage of ‘just buy a Golf R instead’ doesn’t apply.
Where Nice, France Price £38,450 On sale now Engine 4cyls, 1984cc, turbo, petrol Power 296bhp at 5300-6500rpm Torque 295lb ft at 2000-5200rpm Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic Kerb weight xxxkg Top speed 155mph 0-62mph 4.8sec Fuel economy 33.6mpg CO2 No WLTP data Rivals Audi SQ2, BMW X2 M35i
Slide of Sometimes it's about generating publicity and often it's simply about [..]
Meet Ashlea. A busy mum to Anna (7) and Max (4), she [..]
Ford has revamped its Mondeo Hybrid saloon and estate range with the [..]
The M1 was a product of raw manpower. About 13,000,000 cubic yards [..]
The new car market has continued a downward trend with a significant [..]
Kia has unveiled the new Futuron concept as an indication of what [..]