The T-Roc is one of Volkswagen's most important models for years, representing the brand in the affordable style-conscious end of the fast-growing mid-sized SUV segment. Almost everything you can't see on this car comes from a Golf hatch, which is no bad thing. As for the stuff you'll admire in the driveway, well it all looks satisfyingly fashionable.
The T-Roc gets the usual range of turbocharged Volkswagen Group engines. There are three TSI petrol engines, a 115PS 1.0-litre unit, a 150PS 1.5 and a 190PS 2.0-litre powerplant. And two TDI diesels, a 115PS 1.6 and a 150PS 2.0-litre. Providing you avoid the base 1.0-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel units, you'll also get the option of DSG auto transmission and 4MOTION 4WD.
All-wheel drive isn't an especially popular customer option in this segment, but Volkswagen seems to think a lot of T-Toc customers will want it and has packaged up its 4MOTION system with plenty of extra features, primarily a driving profile selection system. This set-up gives you a choice of two on-road profiles ('Street' and 'Snow'). There are a couple of off-road modes too: 'Offroad' (which automatically sets the car up for 'off piste' use) and 'Offroad Individual' (which allows you to set various parameters). For models with front-wheel drive, the 'Driving Profile Selection' system can be specified as an option. Other extras you can add include 'DCC' 'Dynamic Chassis Control' adaptive damping and 'ACC' 'Adaptive Cruise Control'.
The T-Roc's extrovert styling is certainly very different to that of Volkswagen's conservative Tiguan. It's smaller too, the compact 4,234mm length not only 252mm shorter than its SUV stablemate but also 21mm shorter than a Volkswagen Golf. The Wolfsburg brand's Head of Design, Klaus Bischoff, and his team have gone for a wide and long stance allied to a relatively low roofline and a steeply raked C-pillar. There are short overhangs too, but despite that, luggage space is quite generous - measuring 445 litres when loaded up to the top of the second-row seat backrests.
Inside, the cabin looks much the same as that of the Golf, though gives buyers greater scope for personalisation. Plusher models get the 'Active Info Display' 10.3-inch TFT instrument binnacle display now available on most larger Volkswagen models, which works in conjunction with an 8.0-inch centre-dash infotainment screen. These two monitors combine to create a digital and interactive cockpit with a wide range of online services and apps accessible via smartphone and the usual 'Volkswagen Car-Net' media connectivity system. As you'd expect, the 'MirrorLink'/'Android Auto' and 'Apple CarPlay' smartphone-mirroring systems are available, as is a 'Security & Service' package which provides support in a wide variety of situations. Highlights include an Emergency Service, Automatic Accident Notification and Roadside Assistance.
As Volkswagen well knows, this is the kind of car it needs to make to satisfy the current fickle, fashion-led SUV market. It's curious then, that it's taken the Wolfsburg maker so long to get around to bringing us such a model. For too long, the brand was represented in the Qashqai class only by the rather conservative and not especially affordable Tiguan. Now at last, the company's dealers have something really credible to offer drivers who once would have been satisfied with an ordinary Golf or Focus-style family hatch but now want something similarly sized but a bit more interesting.
Is that what this is? After all, if you strip away the funky bodywork and the cabin personalisation, what you've got here is a slightly less efficient but more expensive Golf. But then, you could say similar things of just about any other contender in this segment. It's all about giving the market what it wants. And with the T-Roc, Volkswagen has done just that.Click here to find out more about our Volkswagen T-Roc range