Volkswagen T-ROC R

   You probably don’t need me to tell you that life is chock-full of compromises, and especially-so when it comes to buying the family car. As the driver you’ll no-doubt want something that does at least possess some potential to entertain; an element of involvement, after all, goes a long way. Running costs too need careful consideration; monthly payments, residual values, miles per gallon etc. And then there’s the rest of the family, none of them will thank you for buying something in which they and the rest of life’s flotsam won’t fit, no matter how cool you try to tell them they look in it.

    We’d all drive supercars if we could (well, I would), but – and I speak from experience here – a McLaren 720S doesn’t really suit the Tesco run.

   It’s no wonder then , that the Crossover-cum-SUV is king, they’re practical, they’re relatively cheap to run, and you can fit your mother and her shopping in them at the same time. But, they are all a bit dull aren’t they? Not exactly the kind of thing you’d choose to drive alone on a deserted Welsh B-road.

     That’s perhaps where the Volkswagen T-Roc R comes in. By taking the running gear from their Golf R and fitting it into the T-Roc mid-sized SUV, the Wolfsburg boffins have created a versatile, practical all-rounder that packs a high performance punch. Or at least, that’s what it says in their accompanying press bumpf. 

      Worldwide, Volkswagen assumes that over the next ten years the annual global sales volume of the small SUV sector will grow from around 6.4 million units of today to 10.6 million. Therefore, it’s easy to see why they’ve tried make the T-Roc stand out from what is clearly an ever-growing crowd. Besides, VW already have two similarly sized and equally swift SUVs already within the extended family, namely Audi’s SQ2 and the Cupra (SEAT) Ateca.

    Swift, you say. Oh, make no doubt about it.  By utilising the same 296bhp, 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the same seven-speed DSG gearbox, and the same 4motion all –wheel drive system as the Golf R, the T-Roc R will dash to 62mph in little over four-and-a-half seconds. Where allowed, VW say it will do 155 Mph.

    It also benefits from 19inch wheels shod with 235/40 R19 tyres, the aluminium front sub frame from a Golf GTi, and springs that are 20% stiffer than a standard T-Roc and ironically drop the ride height by 20mm. Isn’t the part of the appeal of an SUV that you sit higher in the first place?  Passive dampers are standard, although you can spec adaptive ones should your budget allow, the brakes come from the Golf R’s performance pack, and should you need such a thing, a, wait for it… £3000 Akrapovic sports exhaust system is also an option -  I’ll let you decide if you think if it’s worth it.

     The body also gets a far sportier look. Deeper bumpers, bigger vents to help cool brakes and radiators, LED daytime running lights; they all put in an appearance. As do, on the inside, the same deeper bolstered and alcantara covered seats as the Golf R, and the same flat-bottomed steering wheel. The T-Roc R also has VW’s superbly clear multi-configurable digital dashboard – albeit not the new version from the recently launched Golf 8.

        When all those go-faster bits are gathered in a SUV you might-well expect the end result to be something that’s extremely brisk in straight line but somewhat wobbly when requested to go around a corner. That’s not case. The T-Roc R resists body-roll and is surprisingly agile. The steering has VW’s usual slight lack of feel and the ride is definitely on the taut side of comfortable, but across country there are few things of this price and of this size that are ultimately as capable of moving you, the rest of the family, and the dog quite so quickly.

   Except that is, for a Golf R, which also happens to be cheaper. Or a Golf R estate. Both are set to appear in new Golf 8 form soon and both are bound to have more premium feeling interiors – the T-Roc’s hard plastics and hollow feeling dashboard have always let it down – and significantly more up-to-date and higher definition infotainment too.  

    There’s a lot to like about the T-Roc R, not least the fact that it offers something different, and when you’re not in the mood to go quickly it will happily tootle around doing all the family car duties like the best of them. Nevertheless, even VW themselves offer equally quick and equally practical alternatives that somehow feel more complete, more satisfying.

    Ultimately, it all boils down to what compromises you’re prepared to make.



Volkswagen T-ROC R 2.0 TSi 4Motion

Engine: 1,984cc 4Cyl 16V turbocharged, petrol

Transmission: 7-Speed DSG Auto with $ Motion Four Wheel Drive.

Power:  296 bhp @ 5,500 rpm

Torque: 295 lbft @ 2,000 – 5,200 rpm

0-62MPH: 4.8 Sec

Max Speed: 155 mph

CO2: 197 g/km (WLTP)

MPG: 32.5 (combined WLTP)

Price: from £40,435 (as tested £47,844)





Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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