What are you driving?
This is the VW T-Roc crossover, which is built on the Volkswagen Group's modular transverse matrix (MQB) platform, the same that underpins the Audi Q2, SEAT Ateca, Skoda Kodiaq and Volkswagen Passat, among others.
The T-Roc looks beefier than the Volkswagen Golf with its flared arches and a wide grille, but with just 2cm more ground clearance it doesn't actually ride much higher. However, whilst the Golf feels just as spacious inside, the T-Roc has a larger boot capacity (445-1,290 litres versus 380-1,270 litres).
We've already driven the T-Roc in 2.0 TSI, 2.0 TDI and 1.5 TSI guises, but this one is powered by a 1.6-litre TDI diesel engine, making 115hp and 250Nm of torque. It is the most economical version in the T-Roc range.
The model tested is 'Design' specification, which is one step up from entry-level spec and comes with sporty-looking bumpers, chrome-plated mouldings, fancy interior lighting, an electronic opening and closing rear hatchback and a driver alert system. Added extras on our test car include upgraded 17-inch alloys, the two-tone paint job and a technology upgrade, which adds in tinted rear windows and silver anodised roof rails.
Name its best bits
The T-Roc has some really nice design features, both inside and out. It looks modern and fresh and there is a decent number of personalisation options to make your version stand out.
The infotainment system looks very neat and is slick and intuitive to use and there is plenty of safety and tech features as standard.
The driving position is more car-like than SUV-like, so those that like a higher, more commanding driving position may be a little disappointed by the lower seats. However, this does make for a more relaxing and comfortable driving experience.
Speaking of which, apart from some lean in the corners, the T-Roc handles well and the suspension copes admirably with a variety of Irish road surfaces, absorbing lumps and bumps with ease. The steering is light and feels accurate and the car is easy to manoeuvre in town, too. Overall, the drive is comfortable and the engine offers a reasonable level of refinement for a small diesel.
Anything that bugs you?
The cabin has a lot of hard surfaces and scratchy plastics, which, for me, don't fully reflect the price tag. On the plus side, those surfaces are wipe clean and durable, which is a good thing if you have young children.
The 1.6 TDI engine, whist offering decent economy, is not geared towards performance. It has a narrow power band and the 115hp and 250Nm of torque is just about adequate to heave around the T-Roc's not insignificant 1,395kg mass.
And why have you given it this rating?
The Volkswagen T-Roc looks great and handles well and is one of the better crossovers on the market. However, the 1.6-litre TDI version feels a little sluggish and a tad lacklustre. On the other hand, it is rather economical and cheap to run, so if you favour economy over performance this version should suit you well.
What do the rest of the team think?
I can fully understand why buyers might go for the T-Roc over an equivalently-priced Volkswagen Golf, in terms of image and boot space if nothing else. However, the Golf feels like a far more polished car, even though it's about to be replaced by a brand new one, and the 1.6 TDI engine is beginning to feel its age in terms of refinement. If you must have a crossover, and you don't need the long-distance economy of the diesel engine, do yourself a favour and get the petrol version of the T-Roc instead.
Shane O'Donoghue - Editor
The T-Roc gets better the longer you spend in it, and while the 1.6-litre TDI doesn't have the same punch as the larger diesel engine, it does make longer journeys just as easy and proves economical. It is worth getting as high a spec as your budget permits with the T-Roc, too.
Dave Humphreys - Road Test Editor