What are you driving?
The Volkswagen T-Roc is effectively the crossover equivalent of the VW Golf. It's swollen in most of the right places, riding a little higher, with a touch more passenger space and a larger boot. The styling works well and, in the 'Sport' specification tested here, gets more brightwork along the top of the plastic-clad sills, along with anodised roof rails. This particular example doesn't have the optional contrasting roof colour.
With its pronounced wheel arches and plastic cladding around the lower sections, the T-Roc makes a decent effort at appearing rugged. As with so many crossovers, we suspect the majority of buyers will never venture any further off-road than a gravel car park. So this version, with its front-wheel drive, manual transmission and 1.5-litre petrol engine, makes a good deal of sense.
Name its best bits
The highlight of this Volkswagen T-Roc is its 1.5-litre petrol engine. With 150hp on tap, it has more than enough performance to cope with the daily commute and gets up to motorway cruising speed comfortably and quickly. There is also that well-engineered feeling that Volkswagen imbues into its cars. The clutch is nicely weighted and the six-speed manual gearbox is easy to use, requiring just the right amount of effort to slot into each gear, relaying a sense of robustness and quality.
The engine has enough torque (250Nm) to pull the T-Roc along quite comfortably, even if you happen to be in a higher gear. When it is cruising along, the Active Info Display (digital instrumentation - standard on this Sport model) will frequently show an 'eco' symbol, meaning the engine has gone into its two-cylinder mode to reduce fuel consumption. It does this so well, and seamlessly, that you'll struggle to notice any difference in how the car drives.
The combination of ample performance and a decent chassis setup results in a car that is more fun to drive that you might initially give it credit for. On a winding road, the T-Roc retains plenty of composure and the well-judged steering allows you accurately choose a line through the bends. The T-Roc isn't an overtly sporty car, but when you push it harder it doesn't get flustered.
Driving aside, there is a useful amount of room inside the T-Roc given its overall size. The boot, at 445 litres, has enough space to swallow up bulky items and you can drop the rear seats to create a total cargo volume of 1,290 litres. Throughout the rest of the interior there are several storage areas for placing oddments.
Another great-to-use feature is the eight-inch 'Composition Media' infotainment system, again standard at this grade. The large screen looks slick and reacts quickly to your inputs. Crucially, it also supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and the USB ports for this are within easy reach at the base of the centre console.
Anything that bugs you?
I did find the ride quality to be a little on the firm side, which may not appeal to everybody. That's also taking into account that the Sport model tested here comes on relatively small 17-inch alloy wheels, meaning there's still some meat on the tyre sidewalls to absorb bumps. If you automatically think that a crossover means a plush ride, make sure you test this car before deciding it's for you.
And why have you given it this rating?
The Volkswagen T-Roc is very much a grower. Getting in and going for a short test drive around the block isn't going to tell you much about it, but when you get deeper under its skin, it delivers quite a rewarding drive. The 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine suits the car well and should serve most buyers adequately, with fuel consumption that isn't very far off what diesel can potentially offer.
What do the rest of the team think?
I like the chunky exterior looks of the T-Roc and how it handles better than you'd expect a crossover to. The interior space and big boot are also good reasons to go for it over, say, a Volkswagen Golf. However, the Golf has a better cabin in terms of perceived quality and the Golf is more comfortable and better to drive most of the time. In short, I fully understand why buyers might see the T-Roc as more desirable than the Golf, but I'd have the latter above it. That aside, the 1.5 TSI engine is without doubt the best option for the T-Roc.Shane O' Donoghue - Editor
I agree totally with Dave about the engine - the smooth and reasonably punchy 1.5 TSI is the best all-round engine in the whole Volkswagen Group line-up right now. The rest of the T-Roc leaves me a touch cold. I quite like the way it looks, but it's rather bland and unmemorable to drive. You can do better for the same money elsewhere in the VW range.Neil Briscoe - Editor-at-large