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Volkswagen ready T-Roc with trendy little SUV

PUBLISHED: 12:59 05 April 2018 | UPDATED: 12:59 05 April 2018

Volkswagen predicts T-Roc will be a top-tier seller with Golf and Polo. Picture: Volkswagen

Volkswagen predicts T-Roc will be a top-tier seller with Golf and Polo. Picture: Volkswagen

Volkswagen

Volkswagen’s expanding SUV range has been boosted by the Golf-sized T-Roc with eye-catching styling, personalisation and room for all the family. Motoring editor Andy Russell says it’s going to another big hit for Volkswagen.

Steeply-raked rear screen give Volkswagen T-Roc a coupe-like profile. Picture: VolkswagenSteeply-raked rear screen give Volkswagen T-Roc a coupe-like profile. Picture: Volkswagen

Volkswagen is now the UK’s second biggest-selling brand, giving buyers what they want – safe, sound, family-friendly cars that don’t break the bank to buy or own.

They’re sensible cars you buy with your head, rather than your heart, but now Volkswagen is looking to change that impression with the Golf-based T-Roc, the latest model in its SUV offensive. It sits below the Touareg and Tiguan and above the Polo-based T-Cross which arrives later this year.

Looks and image

Volkswagen T-Roc sits below Tiguan and Touareg. Picture: VolkswagenVolkswagen T-Roc sits below Tiguan and Touareg. Picture: Volkswagen

Volkswagen’s SUV range is certainly not a ‘Russian doll’ line-up, similar styling but scaled down, and the T-Roc is rather radical for the German brand with eye-catching lines and a range of personalisation options so well placed to in the fast-growing small SUV market expected to rise from 6.4 to 10.6 million sales worldwide over the next 10 years.

The large grille is flanked by stylish, slender headlights while the sloping roofline and steeply-raked rear screen give the T-Roc a coupe-like profile, flowing down into wide, thin tail lights.

Under the bonnet

Fascia looks good and works well but hard plastics are disappointing. Picture: VolkswagenFascia looks good and works well but hard plastics are disappointing. Picture: Volkswagen

Three-quarters of T-Roc sales are expected to be private buyers, and 80pc petrol, not surprising in the current climate.

There are 115PS 1.0, 150PS 1.5 and 190PS 2.0-litre TSI turbo petrol and 115PS 1.6 and 150PS 2.0-litre TDI turbo diesels. The 2.0-litre engines get four-wheel drive and the 190PS petrol is auto only.

I’m a fan of tiny turbo engines, particularly this 1.0-litre VW unit. It punches above its weight so, unless you spend a lot of time hammering along motorways, does everything you ask. It pulls willing from low revs, strongly in the mid range and revs eagerly, when you use the six-speed manual gearbox, accompanied by a pleasant thrummy engine note but is generally quiet and refined.

A real-world 50mpg won’t disappoint either.

Front-wheel drive models have a useful 445-litre boot with  removable sill-level floor panel. Picture: VolkswagenFront-wheel drive models have a useful 445-litre boot with removable sill-level floor panel. Picture: Volkswagen

How it drives

Sharing the Golf platform is a great starting point for this compact SUV. The standard suspension is well balanced between ride comfort and roadholding on the SE trim test car with 17in wheels with deep tyres.

It’s one of the most comfortable, best-driving small SUVs, taking the sting out of poor road surfaces most of the time yet taut enough to make the T-Roc impressively agile through twists and turns with little body roll.

Rear seat backs split 60/40. Picture: VolkswagenRear seat backs split 60/40. Picture: Volkswagen

Space and comfort

It’s not compact inside with enough leg and headroom for four six-footers – you could even squeeze three in the back for short journeys – despite not having any clever sliding rear seats.

Front-wheel drive models have a useful 445-litre boot, with a removable sill-level floor panel, but it’s only 392-litre in 4Motion models. Fold the 60/40 rear seat backs flat and it grows to 1,290 litres.

Trendy T-Roc takes Volkswagen into the compact SUV market and is sure to be a hit with strong styling, driving appeal and family-friendly roominess. Picture: VolkswagenTrendy T-Roc takes Volkswagen into the compact SUV market and is sure to be a hit with strong styling, driving appeal and family-friendly roominess. Picture: Volkswagen

At the wheel

If you’ve driven any Volkswagen, you’ll feel at home in the T-Roc with clear, white-on-black dials, central information display, straightforward heating and ventilation controls and responsive, user-friendly eight-inch touchscreen high up on the centre of the fascia.

The driver’s seat has all the adjustment you need, tall or short, and the seats supportive.

My only gripe is that modern Volkswagen have set the bar high for the quality of the cabin materials and trim and the T-Roc falls short of that expectation with hard plastics everywhere – even on top of the dashboard and doors. It feels built to a budget and that’s a shame given the eye-catching exterior.

Equipment

The range comprises S, SE, Design, SEL and R-Line trim levels with SE expected to take up to 40 pc of sales.

As well as standard safety features including emergency braking, for stationary or slowing vehicles in front and pedestrians, and lane assist, SE gets adaptive cruise control, parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, auto lights and wipers, 17in alloy wheels, electric windows and heated, folding door mirrors and speed-sensitive power steering.

Final say

The T-Roc is expected to be a top-tier seller for Volkwagen behind the Golf and Polo – don’t bet against it, given the popularity of smaller SUVs and the VW badge.

SPEC AND TECH

Price: Volkswagen T-Roc 1.0 TSI SE £20,430 (range £18,955 to £31,500)

Engine: 999cc, 115PS, three-cylinder turbo petrol with six-speed manual gearbox

Performance: 0-62mph 10.1 seconds; top speed 116mph

MPG: Urban 46.3; extra urban 62.8; combined 55.4

CO2 emissions: 117g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 24pc

Insurance group: 11E (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,234mm; W (including door mirrors) 1,992mm; H 1,573mm

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Andy Russell

Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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