May 25, 2020 2:00:29 PM
It’s a logical step, in fairness. Volkswagen has shoehorned the punchy 2.0-litre turbo engine from its accomplished Golf R into a jacked-up crossover, giving a bang-on-trend compact SUV a new appeal to performance-minded drivers. But is it any good? Let’s take a look.
But unlike the Golf, the T-Roc is much higher, which will likely make it appeal to families who want something that’s easy to get children in and out of. It might not be a huge amount more practical than the Golf R, but as we’ve seen recently, the crossover is a winning formula – so there’s no reason why people won’t saunter past the regular hatch in favour of the higher-riding T-Roc.
All four wheels are driven here, too, and power is sent through a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. When it comes to efficiency the T-Roc R is about on-par for the segment; Volkswagen claims 32.5mpg combined and emissions of 176g/km. Drive it hard and that MPG figure will dwindle, mind.
And it’s that seating position which helps to get a better connection with the car. The engine is a cracker; torquey and solid it pulls strongly throughout the rev range. We’d like a little more exhaust noise, in honesty, but for many it’ll be characterful enough.
Our car came on optional adjustable dampers too – Volkswagen calls it Dynamic Chassis Control – and in comfort mode, the T-Roc R rides impressively well, despite sitting on 19-inch wheels. Sport and Race modes firm it up too much for the UK’s roads, in our opinion, but it does help to give the car a little more reinforcement when cornering at higher speeds. At £695 it’s a reasonably pricey option, but one we’d thoroughly recommend adding.
And that’s no bad thing in our eyes. Particularly in Lapiz Blue – a colour unique to the R – the T-Roc looks really rather good, with just a handful of ‘R’ badges helping to distinguish it from the rest of the T-Roc line-up. We think this under-the-radar approach to styling will appeal to many.
Seating in the back will be a touch tight for adults, but kids will have plenty of space back there. The boot capacity is good too; there’s 392 litres with the seats in place, rising to 1,237 litres with them folded down. There’s more than enough space for most occasions, in fact.
There’s also a 10.23-inch driver display which replaces the conventional dials, and this features clear and easily-read graphics, which can be tailored to show a variety of different readouts. ‘Our’ test car also came with a smattering of options, including a ‘Beats’ sound pack with a larger subwoofer and keyless entry which came with additional costs of £425 and £395.
The Volkswagen T-Roc R arrives as one of the most well-rounded performance crossovers we’ve tested. Say what you like about the niche, this Volkswagen corners, steers and accelerates in an impressive fashion. Yet it does the daily jobs well too; it’s practical, comfortable and has a good amount of visibility.
Though we’d often recommend a regular hatchback over a crossover, the T-Roc R feels like an exception to the norm. In fact, if you’re after a performance car angled towards family use, then the T-Roc R could really fit the bill.