VW’s latest addition to the local SUV portfolio was recently loaned to us for a few days. We drove the Volkswagen T-Roc 2,0 4Motion R-Line in a myriad of road conditions at the start of the Cape winter to bring you this report.

A few years ago we attended a Nissan event whereby company representatives spoke about the creation and rationale behind the Qashqai. The Japanese firm wanted to take on VW’s perennial Golf, but they knew the German hatch was almost impossible to beat. That latter fact is underlined by impressive sales figures worldwide. So instead of building a hatch, they designed the Qashqai presenting buyers with an alternative to popular hatchbacks. Now VW has its own contender in the Golf-sized crossover class. So, in a roundabout manner it was VW that created a sub-segment that it finally has a competitor to take on the likes of the Qashqai and co. 

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Smart suit

VW’s mid-size crossover slots in between the Polo-based T-Cross and larger Tiguan. It casts a shadow that is not much larger than the Golf on which it is based. The model has an appearance that sets it apart from its closest siblings, unlike a few other brands that are not easy to differentiate among models.

A wide familial face is complemented by sharp creases on the flanks and a set of large, LED taillamps. Our test unit was quite unique in its two-tone, silver/red paintwork. Blistered wheelarches add an air of machismo to the exterior appearance. In T-Roc 2,0 4Motion R-Line guise the package also boasts a set of 19-inch alloys with a beautiful finish. All told it’s a handsome, if not daring design.

Two-tone interior

One of the first things you notice when you slide into the cabin are the two-tone seats. These help lift an otherwise serious cabin and continue the dual-tone theme as seen on the exterior. The front chairs are supportive and feature a heating function, much needed as the night-time/early morning temps are now dropping daily in the Mother City. Our loan unit had a number of optional extras. The most obvious of these are the panoramic roof and Beats audio system. The latter provides punchy bass through a subwoofer and can really rattle your teeth with the right tunes selected.

The facia features two digital displays. The first sits in front of the driver and conveys vital driving info. The second is sited in the middle of the facia and is the touchscreen interface for the infotainment set-up. Below the screen and just above the gear lever  are rotary dials for the climate control system. We prefer these physical switches, as opposed to having to dive into the infotainment system, as they allow you to make quick changes without taking your eyes off the road.

Turbo AWD

This T-Roc 2,0 4Motion is the top of the range model, until, that is, if/when Volkswagen SA decides to introduce the T-Roc R to the local line-up. Under the bonnet is the company’s tried and trusted 2,0-litre turbocharged inline four. Peak power is rated as 140 kW with a healthy 320 N.m of twist effort. 

The motor provides enough urge when needed and the seven-speed transmission makes good use of the torque spread. Very seldom did we ever want a particular gear without the gearbox already making that shift, it’s quite intuitive in that regard. The powertrain also seems to sip fuel at a very slow rate, particularly on the open road, as the range-to-empty display takes a while to drop. 

Unlike its lesser-powered siblings, which are front-wheel-drive, this T-Roc 2,0 4Motion delivers power to all four wheels. Power is transmitted from the motor to the ground through a seven-speed, dual-clutch automated transmission (DSG in VW speak). There are various modes to choose from on the drivetrain, all selected via a rotary dial between the front seats.

Behind the wheel

Although the T-Roc seems quite high off the ground from the outside, the subjective feeling from behind the wheel is not dissimilar to the Golf (Mk7). That shouldn’t really be a surprise considering both models ride on the same MQB platform. That sensation is probably prevalent because the controls, control weights and interfaces are all so familiar.

On the move the T-Roc displays a ride quality that is commendable considering the 19-inch alloys. It’s not supple in the same manner as some of its direct rivals but it isn’t overly firm or harsh. That slight edge to the suspension pays back when you start to drive the T-Roc 2,0 4Motion in a spirited manner. 

One can drive the T-Roc 2,0 4Motion a lot quicker in a safer manner than you originally suspect. The all-wheel-drive system offers a level of surefootedness and safety margin as power is sent to all four corners to help with cornering. The steering is largely lifeless, but true to input to allow fast cornering without second guessing your chosen line.

Summary

It’s odd to think that VW offers no fewer than five SUV/crossover models on its local listings. South Africans used to buy Golfs, Jettas, Passats and the like by the dozen, but the trend towards SUV ownership has removed some of the old staples from the new car charts completely. In the T-Roc 2,0 4Motion buyers are presented with an option that offers the benefits of an SUV (boot space, high ride height, AWD, etc) and many of the traits that make the Golf a top seller. 

Model: Volkswagen T-Roc 2,0 4Motion R-Line

Price: R593 600

Engine: 2,0-litre, inline four, turbocharged

Transmission: seven-speed DSG, AWD

Max power: 140 kW

Max torque: 320 N.m

Top speed: 216 km/h

0-100 km/h: 7,2 sec

Fuel consumption: 8,3 L/100 km