VW rocks with T-Roc

compact SUV

Volkswagen T-Roc, 2017, front
Volkswagen T-Roc, 2017, front, town
Volkswagen T-Roc, 2017, front, action
Volkswagen T-Roc, 2017, side, static
Volkswagen T-Roc, 2017, side, action
Volkswagen T-Roc, 2017, rear
Volkswagen T-Roc, 2017, interior
Volkswagen T-Roc, 2017, display screen
Volkswagen T-Roc, 2017, boot

YOU'VE probably noticed that the world has gone mad for so-called Sports Utility Vehicles - or SUVs.

Today, a third of all cars sold are SUVs and they are the most popular choice with car buyers around the world.

Volkswagen wants a considerable slice of that market.

Some 15 years ago, it launched the Touareg, which was followed more recently by the mega-selling Tiguan. The T-Roc is its latest attempt to woo more lifestyle-oriented buyers.

Combining the classic ‘high ride' attributes of an SUV with the sleek style of a coupe, the T-Roc will sit beneath the popular Tiguan and above next year's T-Cross small SUV in the VW range.

And, the Wolfsburg-based brand believe it will be as popular as its leading lights, the Golf, Passat and Tiguan.

The T-Roc will be up against the likes of the Vauxhall Mokka X, Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008, MINI Countryman and Audi Q2.

As such, it's slightly shorter than the Golf (and the Tiguan) but is a little wider than the popular saloon.

Sat high behind the short, squat bonnet, it feels very wide indeed despite being 1,819mm in width.

As with many SUVs, it feels Tardis-like on the inside. It's a proper five-seater and has one of the largest luggage compartments in its class - 445 litres when loaded up to the top of the second row seat backrests.

The T-Roc will be offered in five trims - S, SE, Design, SEL and R-Line - with a generous spec list including dual-zone electric climate control, eight-inch infotainment colour touchscreen, Bluetooth connection, digital radio, USB connectivity and charging, six speakers, 16-inch alloys and all the usual active and passive safety equipment you'd expect.

VW's 10.3-inch diagonal Active Info Display, standard on SEL models, and optionally available on others, has also been upgraded and now partners with the car's infotainment system to create an easy-to-use digital and interactive cockpit. Another tick for the lifestyle buyer.

Personalisation is the favourite buzzword for cars chosen as a lifestyle choice so there's an expansive range of colour, trim and equipment options.

Design models feature the widest range, the biggest of which is a contrasting roof colour.

In a VW first, the roof colour extends from the rear roof spoiler along the roof and down the windscren-pillars. Depending on the colours chosen it can look attractive, standout-ish or just plain odd. It's a Marmite thing.

There's also a choice of coloured dashpad and interior door panels. Yes, they make the interior a little funky and ‘hip' but somehow don't exude the premium quality you would expect from a VW.

Like the Tiguan, the T-Roc will eventually be offered with five turbocharged engines - three petrol and two diesel - matched to manual or DSG autoboxes depending on engine choice. It can also be ordered with VW's 4MOTION all-wheel drive system.

As many as eight out of ten T-Roc models sold in the UK are expected to be petrol-powered.

The choices are a three-cylinder 1.0-litre, 113bhp six-speed manual, a 148bhp 1.5, or an extremely nippy 187bhp 2.0-litre TSI. It comes with all-wheel drive and Volkswagen's supreme seven-speed DSG.

In its most potent form, the T-Roc will do the 0-62mph dash in an admirable 7.2 seconds and go on to a top speed of 134mph.

At the opposite end of the scale, the 1.0-litre is officially said to return over 55mpg with CO2 emissions of 117g/km. But it will take over 10 seconds to complete the sprint.

The diesel range features a 115PS 1.6 TDI and a 150PS 2.0-litre TDI with an ample 340Nm of torque.

At the moment, the only engine and trim levels available to order in the UK are the SE and Design 1.0 TSI manuals, the 1.5 TSI EVO manual in SE, Design and SEL and the SEL 2.0 TSI auto.

The SE 1.0-litre TSI is priced £20,425 on-the-road (the entry-level model is expected to be around £19,000), while the SEL will set you back £31,485.

Perhaps unusually, VW predicts the best-selling T-Roc will be the 1.0 TSI SE manual.

At the recent T-Roc launch, just the 2.0-litre all-wheel drive versions of the SUV were available for evaluation.

The driving position of both is excellent and comfortable. Both hold the road well and with plenty of confidence, and the suspension soaks up most of the bigger lumps and bumps. There's very little roll for a tall car and its pleasant if not exciting to drive.

The 2.0-litre petrol is definitely the best in terms of nifty performance though the torque of the diesel means it's an eager rival. Both are dependable, if unexciting.

The T-Roc is pretty much everything you would expect from a Volkswagen in terms of comfort and solid reliability.

There are issues. Take the name. The T refers to its successful frontrunners while Roc has apparently been derived from the English ‘rock' because it ‘really rocks the segment'.

Yes, it is stylish but not in a stand-out-from-the-crowd way and there's that lack of enjoyable involvement in the driving.

While practicality and engineering are up to the usual standards, the interior feels lacking. Unusually for a Volkswagen, road and wind noise are noticeable so refinement is down too.

To be blunt, it's unlikely to ‘rock' anything. Have no doubt, it will sell bucketloads. But, unusually for a Volkswagen, it doesn't hit their usual heights.

And, if you want a refined, practical, comfortable, versatile - cheaper - family car, VW already has one. It's called the Golf.

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