Welcome to the most popular Volkswagen
It’s the T-Roc which now sells more than any of its stablemates, such is the way our motoring landscape has changed in recent years.
Golf and Polo have been big-sellers for generations and today’s customers still buy those models in reasonable numbers but it’s the cuteness and versatility of the crossover T-Roc which really floats their boats these days.
Crossovers are in high demand. People like their versatility and space and they just love the high ride height. OK, so they don’t tend to corner as well as hatchbacks but who cars these days?
Driving in 2023 isn’t about speed and cornering, it’s about style and roominess and the T-Roc is top of the class.
T-Roc doesn’t get everything it’s own way. Being part of the VW empire it has plenty of siblings and half-cousins which can claim family looks and similar equipment. Some are even a few pounds cheaper. But enough people still would prefer to be seen in a VW than a Skoda or SEAT. In fact, you can soon count SEAT of the shortlist because it is being replaced by its sportier relative Cupra.
So, how does T-Roc shape up? It’s a mid-sized model which sits between the beefy Touareg and more compact T-Cross. As Red Riding Hood might say, the T-Roc is just right – not too small and not too big.
I’m a fan. Volkswagen do lots of things well but for me it’s the styling which is the brand’s stand out feature. T-Roc will look as fresh and neat in five or 10 years as it does today. It just doesn’t seem to age, unlike some other style-heavy rivals which don’t date as well.
Tested here is the Style. It’s in the middle of the basic Life and sportier R models. Power is from a tiny engine – a 999cc unit. No matter how often I drive cars with this little powerplant, I’m always amazed at how cultured and quiet they are. It is rapid enough and economical. The emissions are low, too. It only occasionally runs out of steam when pushed but generally will provide ample energy.
Style inside is impressive too. It’s mature and sensible and good to look at.
Like all the VW family, its controls should be the benchmark for the industry because they are intuitive and easy to get to know.
This car is well equipped. Automatic headlights, body-coloured trim, LED daytime running lights, leather trim, six-speaker stereo and ambient lighting. I know ambient lighting might not be at the top of your wishlist but it does add a feeling of quality.
T-Roc was launched at the end of 2017 and received an update four years later. Even then it had already quickly become a key pillar in the Volkswagen range with one million sold. This success continues with the current version.
It too offers a striking exterior design, a spacious interior and many high-tech features.
Though the T-Roc’s driving experience doesn’t set the world alight, this is a very competent crossover from behind the wheel.
It handles well for a crossover, feeling quite planted to the road despite its top-heavy stance.
At its launch in 2017 the T-Roc helped to inject some extra style into Volkswagen’s range, and it remains a smart-looking thing. There’s a good range of colours available, while the option of a contrasting colour for the top half of the car adds additional personalisation.
The overall design of the T-Roc hasn’t changed massively, but the front end gets the bulk of the updates, with LED headlights now fitted as standard, while high-spec versions get the fancy – if quite chintzy – illuminated grille strip. The updated R-Line model also now looks far more like the full-fat ‘R’ it’s trying to impersonate.
Possibly the most disappointing thing about the previous T-Roc was its interior quality. Volkswagen has worked to improve things, and it’s safe to say it’s a big step up, with far more soft-touch plastics, particularly for the dashboard.
It’s quite the techfest in here, though, with the T-Roc getting an updated eight-inch touchscreen, digital dials and even a touch module for the climate settings. The steering wheel also has Volkswagen’s haptic feedback buttons, which just seem a bit of a gimmick.
The refreshed T-Roc range consists of three main versions – Life, Style and R-Line. Standard kit includes 16-inch alloy wheels, an eight-inch touchscreen, LED headlights and adaptive cruise control.
Style is predicted to be the best-seller, and brings better looking 17-inch alloy wheels, a larger digital cockpit screen and satellite navigation. At the top of the range, the R-Line gains a sporty bodykit, different 17-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension and heated seats.
But the T-Roc remains quite a pricey option, with the range beginning from £25,000, and rising to more than £36,000 for a top-spec four-wheel-drive diesel. You don’t really get that much equipment as standard either, as a reversing camera, keyless entry and wireless smartphone charger are still options even on top-spec models. Somewhat worryingly, a £50,000-plus T-Roc is possible if you tick every option box.
If you fancy really splashing the boat out then look at the cabriolet version. Not for me, thanks, but some will admire it's style.
Volkswagen T-Roc Style
Price: £29,845. Range spans £27,045 for the Life to £43,685 for the R
Engine: A 999cc engine generating 81kW and 200Nm
Performance: Top speed 115mph and 0 to 60mph in 10.8 seconds
Economy: 47.1mpg combined
Warranty: Three years, 60,000 miles