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Volkswagen T-Roc R (2020) review: 3.5/5

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The Volkswagen T-Roc R joins the hot crossover party. Would you have it over the Golf equivalent?

Dave Humphreys

Words: - @LordHumphreys

Published on: May 21, 2020

Words: - @LordHumphreys

Published on: May 21, 2020

Tech Specs

Model testedVolkswagen T-Roc R
Pricing€57,916 as tested; T-Roc R starts at €54,695
Engine2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmissionseven-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat crossover 
WLTP CO2 emissions192g/km (Band E - €750 per annum) 
WLTP fuel economy32.5mpg (8.6 litres/100km)
Top speed250km/h
0-100km/h4.8 seconds 
Power300hp at 5,000rpm
Torque400Nm at 2,000-5,200rpm
Boot space392 litres
SafetyEuro NCAP rating for Volkswagen T-Roc

What are you driving?

Given the public's penchant for crossovers, we shouldn't be surprised that the Volkswagen T-Roc R exists. After all, taking a reasonably practical and roomy crossover, and combining it with the mechanical underpinnings of the Volkswagen Golf R, ought to make for the best pairing this side of Elton John and Kiki Dee. 


Name its best bits

It's hard to know what to class the T-Roc R as. It doesn't fall under the hot hatch category on account of it being a crossover. Is the next big thing going to be hot crossovers? And, as the last letter would suggest, this car is quick. 

A cynical way to view this car is as a Volkswagen Golf R with a ruined centre of gravity. But fear not, as it's not that bad and for those, perhaps with a growing family, it offers more space than a Golf without having to concede on performance. Even though the T-Roc R maintains its crossover stance, the ride height is 20mm lower than standard and, having that extra bit of suspension travel means that it rides more sweetly than the Golf R, especially on more inferior surfaces. Rather than feeling stiff and fidgety, the T-Roc R soaks up the bigger stuff with aplomb.

All that allows you to enjoy its potency and the ease at which you can extract it. There is plenty of performance on tap and the security provided by the all-wheel-drive system imbues confidence in the driver to push things a touch more, carrying speed through bends. Be in no doubt: the T-Roc R is a very capable machine. 

It probably won't surprise you much to read that it's the powertrain that is the star of the show here. That turbocharged four-cylinder engine has appeared in a raft of different cars up to now, and while it doesn't deliver any more power than in the Golf R, it still makes for an entertaining package. Yes, the eighth-generation Golf R will more than likely see a bump in power, but those fixated on horsepower figures shouldn't lose too much sleep, as the engine in this format is already proven to give up plenty more performance with some gentle tweaking.

Anything that bugs you?

What is lacking a touch is the sense of involvement, from a driver's perspective. The T-Roc's chassis is more than capable, and the performance on offer should mean that this car is fun to drive. Don't get me wrong; it does everything, including the fast stuff, very well, but arguably it's too good, to the point that it quickly becomes boring. 

I would like it if the standard exhaust had a bit more bark to it. You can add an Akrapovič exhaust that's Volkswagen-approved and will knock 7kg of weight off the car, but it also takes some weight from your wallet with its €5,059 cost. More disappointingly for more buyers, if you want to have a reversing camera, then a tick in the options box is required, adding a further €264. Considering this is the range-topping version, that is a bitter pill to swallow.

And why have you given it this rating?

We've yet to see a surge in high-performance crossovers and SUVs that don't carry six-figure price tags. The T-Roc R adds a smidge more practicality for those that think the more common Golf R is too small and in lieu of the fact that Ireland didn't officially get the Golf R Estate. Plus, the T-Roc has the badge appeal that something equally as brisk (and roomier), the Cupra Ateca, lacks. While it would be easy and lazy to file this under 'the answer to the question nobody asked,' I can't deny that the package works and is likely to find buyers that think the same. 




Alternatives

Car Reviews | BMW X2 M35i (2019) | CompleteCar.ie
BMW X2 M35i vs. Volkswagen T-Roc R (2020): seems odd to compare a junior BMW M car, but the X2 chips in with a touch more power, complementing a superb chassis setup.
Car Reviews | Cupra Ateca (2019) | CompleteCar.ie
Cupra Ateca vs. Volkswagen T-Roc R (2020): the Cupra drafts in the same powertrain as the T-Roc, but packages everything in a slightly larger and more practical format.
Car Reviews | Volkswagen Golf R | CompleteCar.ie
Volkswagen Golf R vs. Volkswagen T-Roc R (2020): even though the Mk7 Golf R is in the twilight of its years it remains a fantastic all-rounder. Snap up a used bargain or hold out for the new model.

Tech Specs

Model testedVolkswagen T-Roc R
Pricing€57,916 as tested; T-Roc R starts at €54,695
Engine2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmissionseven-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat crossover 
WLTP CO2 emissions192g/km (Band E - €750 per annum) 
WLTP fuel economy32.5mpg (8.6 litres/100km)
Top speed250km/h
0-100km/h4.8 seconds 
Power300hp at 5,000rpm
Torque400Nm at 2,000-5,200rpm
Boot space392 litres
SafetyEuro NCAP rating for Volkswagen T-Roc