Volkswagen T-Roc Review
The VW T-Roc is a small, stylish SUV with a high-tech interior and a big boot, but alternatives are cheaper to buy and come with more space for back-seat passengers.
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Lots of kit
- Funky styling
- Comfortable to drive
What's not so good
- Feels cheap in places
- Alternatives are roomer...
- ...and cost less to buy
Volkswagen T-Roc: what would you like to read next?
You can think of the VW T-Roc as a taller and arguably more stylish alternative to a run-of-the-mill Golf hatchback. It’s worth considering if a raised driving position and eye-catching looks are more important to you than outright running costs. It comes with just as much high-tech kit as the Golf, but it isn’t quite as practical as some more affordable SUVs.
That being said, the VW T-Roc looks more upmarket than the likes of the Hyundai Kona and the Citroen C4 Cactus. High-spec cars come with cool hexagonal daytime running lights and every model gets a broad grille and slim headlights which look like they’ve been pinched from the posh VW Arteon saloon. Overall, the grown-up T-Roc makes the rather fussy Hyundai Kona and bulbous Citroen C4 Cactus look like blown-up children’s toys.
That’s not to say the VW T-Roc is without a sense of fun. There are plenty of snazzy two-tone paint jobs for you to choose from and you can further explore the limits of good taste with a range of orange, blue and yellow interior trim packs.
Stick to relatively subtle colour combinations and the VW T-Roc’s cabin is a very nice place to spend time – especially if you’re into your gizmos. The VW T-Roc comes with an 8-inch touchscreen as standard and all but entry-level cars come with smartphone mirroring for Apple and Android phones. You can even get it with a slick 10-inch digital screen in place of conventional analogue dials.
You should consider the VW T-Roc if you need the practicality and economy of a family hatchback but fancy something with more eye-catching looks and a raised driving position.
It’s a shame, then, that the VW T-Roc’s cabin doesn’t feel quite as posh as all its fancy features would suggest. There are lots of hard, scratchy plastics and leather seats are an expensive optional extra, even in top-spec cars.
It’s not just the seats that leave a little to be desired, the VW T-Roc’s cabin isn’t particularly spacious, either. Sure, there’s enough room for four six-footers, but tall adults will feel more comfortable in a Citroen C4 Cactus – especially in the back. It’s not all bad news, though – the VW T-Roc has one of the biggest boots of any small SUV and it’s dead easy to load very bulky luggage with the back seats folded flat.
The VW T-Roc’s punchy 2.0-litre diesel engines will have no trouble hauling a boot-load of rubbish to the tip, but they come solely with four-wheel drive so they aren’t particularly economical. For nipping through town you’ll want a smaller 1.0-litre petrol model, or there’s a more powerful 1.5-litre petrol if you fancy something a bit perkier.
The optional automatic gearbox is definitely worth considering – especially if you spend a lot of time in traffic jams – but the optional larger alloy wheels are an option you might want to avoid. Without them, the VW T-Roc does an impressive job ironing out bumps around town and you won’t hear a great deal of unpleasant noise at motorway speeds, either.
Go for an automatic version and you can get the VW T-Roc with a bunch of driver assistance systems to help make long drives feel like a walk in the park, too. All these extra features do cost extra, however, so check out our VW T-Roc deals to see how much you can save on one.
Common Volkswagen T-Roc questions
Is the Volkswagen T-Roc a 4×4
You can buy the VW T-Roc as a 4×4 if you go for one of the higher powered petrol or diesel cars. Volkswagen calls its four-wheel-drive system 4Motion and you can get 4Motion versions with the 150hp 1.5-litre and the 190hp 2.0-litre petrol engines, or the 150hp 2.0-litre diesel engine. The petrol 4x4s come with an automatic gearbox while the diesel gets a manual gearbox.
The rest of the T-Roc range are front-wheel drive cars.
What does T-Roc stand for?
All of Volkswagen’s SUV cars begin the the letter ‘T’ – well in Europe, anyway. Starting with the smallest and going to the largest there is the T-Cross, T-Roc, Tiguan, Tiguan Allspace and Touareg.
The ‘Roc’ in T-Roc is derived from the word ‘rock’ and refers to Volkswagen’s desire for the car to ‘rock’ this class of car. Quite.
The VW T-Roc comes with loads of high-tech goodies as standard but some of the plastics in its cabin feel cheap and some eye-catching trim pieces cost extra
There’s enough space in the VW T-Roc’s boot for plenty of family bits and bobs but three adults might find the back seats a touch cramped on long journeys
The firm central rear seat isn't exactly comfortable – it's like being stuck between a-roc and a hard place
The Volkswagen T-Roc’s front seats and steering wheel come with loads of adjustment to help you find your ideal driving position – even if you’re very tall. SE L and R-Line cars come with slightly more supportive seats than S, SE and Design models but you can get even more heavily bolstered sports seats across the range as part of the reasonably priced Sport pack.
The back seats are reasonably roomy too, but six-foot-tall passengers may find their knees brushing against the seats in front if they’re sitting behind an equally tall driver.
Thankfully there’s a fair amount of headroom but carrying three adults side-by-side is a bit of a squeeze thanks to the very narrow (and noticeably raised) central seat. There’s also a large lump in the VW T-Roc’s floor that your middle passenger has to lift their legs over, but at least the footwells are wide enough to accommodate everyone’s feet. If you regularly carry four passengers, a Citroen C3 Aircross will be a better bet.
The rear door openings aren’t particularly wide either, so it’s a little tricky to lift in a child seat. Luckily the Isofix anchor points are clearly marked behind removable plastic caps and the VW T-Roc’s raised ride height means you don’t have to stoop down to strap in a child.
There are plenty of handy storage bins dotted about the VW T-Roc’s cabin so you won’t have any trouble keeping its interior looking neat and tidy.
The front door bins are large enough to hold a 1.5-litre bottle each and there’s plenty of room in the glovebox to store another large bottle. All but entry-level S cars come with a useful storage tray under the driver’s seat and two USB charging ports, but if you want wireless charging for your smartphone it’s quite an expensive optional extra.
SE cars and above come with a folding central armrest with a handy storage bin but it’s only just large enough to hold a drinks can. The rear door bins aren’t as wide as those in the front either, and you don’t get a folding rear armrest with built-in cupholders as standard in the entry-level VW T-Roc S.
You’ll be able to carry 445 litres of luggage in the VW T-Roc’s boot with all five seats in place. That’s enough space for a baby buggy and some soft bags or a few large suitcases, but not quite as much as you’ll fit in the Citroen C3 Aircross.
The VW’s load bay is nice and square so it’s easy to pack full of boxes and you get an adjustable boot floor that helps cut down the height of the rather tall boot lip. As a result, it’s pretty easy to load and unload heavy luggage and there’s enough space under the raised floor to hide away a few soft bags. Sadly, there isn’t quite enough space to comfortably tuck the parcel shelf under the floor if you need to remove it.
Thankfully, all VW T-Rocs come with two-way (60:40) split folding rear seats so you can carry up to three passengers at once and have some long luggage poking through from the boot. SE models and above also get a handy ski hatch so you can carry some long thin luggage and two passengers in the back seats simultaneously.
Need even more space? Flip all the back seats down and the VW T-Roc’s boot grows to 1,290 litres. That’s significantly larger than the boots in the Hyundai Kona and the Kia Stonic and almost identical to the Citroen C3 Aircross.
With the back seats folded there’s enough room to carry a bike with its wheels attached and – with the adjustable boot floor in its raised position – there’s no annoying step to lift heavy luggage over. The back seats fold completely flat too, so you can slide large boxes right up behind the front seats with minimal effort.
You have plenty of engines to choose from in the VW T-Roc but you’ll have to fork out for a top-spec diesel or petrol if you want four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox
It’s hardly very exciting to drive but the T-Roc’s pretty comfortable for a high-riding SUV – even without the expensive optional suspension upgrade
You can get the Volkswagen T-Roc with three petrol and two diesel engines and with either front or four-wheel drive – although this will depend on the specific model you go for.
The entry-level 115hp 1.0-litre petrol is the best choice if you spend most time driving around town. It’s reasonably quiet yet powerful enough to pull get the T-Roc from 0-62mph in a fairly respectable 10.1 seconds. VW claims it’ll return 55.4 mpg but you can expect it to manage around 45mpg in normal driving conditions.
The more powerful 150hp 1.5-litre petrol VW T-Roc will be a better bet if you regularly take in a mix of town and motorway driving. It doesn’t have to work quite as hard as the 1.0-litre car to keep up with traffic so it’s a bit quieter at speed and will accelerate from 0-62mph in a more spritely 8.4 seconds. It returns near identical 53.3mpg claimed fuel economy too, although in real-world conditions you’ll have to make do with a figure in the mid forties.
The most economical T-Roc is the 1.6-litre diesel with 115hp. It comes in manual, front-wheel drive form only and officially returns 64.2mpg. You can expect something closer to 50mpg, but that’s still impressive, and the 1.6 feels strong enough to cope in town as well as keeping up with faster traffic on the motorway.
The 2.0-litre 150hp diesel will be more suitable if you do plenty of long journeys. It has no trouble overtaking slow-moving traffic and reaches 62mph from rest almost as fast as the 150hp petrol car in 8.7 seconds. It’ll drink a smidge less fuel, too – you can expect it to return fuel economy in the high forties compared with VW’s claimed 56.5mpg.
There’s also a more powerful 190hp petrol version that’s faster (it’ll accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds) but will struggle to return more than 40mpg in normal conditions. Both these models come with four-wheel drive as standard to give you a little extra grip in slippery conditions but only top-spec 190hp models get an automatic gearbox. This seven-speed DSG unit helps take some of the stress out of long drives but can be a little jerky at slow speeds – such as when you’re trying to park.
The VW T-Roc’s slightly raised driving position means you get a better view out over traffic ahead than in most conventional small family cars. Unlike in some SUVs, the pillars between the doors and the windscreen are quite thin too, so you’ll have no trouble spotting cars approaching at junctions.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the VW’s rear visibility. The small rear windscreen and thick rear pillars mean you might have trouble spotting parked cars and pedestrians when you’re reversing.
To help you out, you get front and rear parking sensors as standard on SE models and above, and top-spec cars even get a self-parking system that’ll steer for you into bay and parallel spaces. It’s a relatively cheap option on Design and SE cars and really helps take the pressure out of nabbing that last space on the school run.
Once you’ve left the car park, you’ll find the VW T-Roc soaks up potholes around town pretty well. It’s more relaxing to drive than the slightly bumpy SEAT Arona and runs the smooth Citroen C3 Aircross very close in the comfort stakes. The only fly in the ointment is R-Line trim which on its range-largest 19-inch alloys start to feel a little firm. However, all T-Rocs have light controls making them dead easy to navigate through tight city streets.
Head out onto a motorway and you’ll find even the smallest petrol engine makes very little noise as you cruise along. Tyre noise is mostly muted, unless you go for the R-Line’s bigger wheels, and the VW T-Roc soaks up rutted road surfaces pretty well for a small SUV. You’ll hear some wind noise at anything more than 60mph, though.
On twisty country roads the T-Roc leans more in tight corners than either the SEAT Arona or the Audi Q2 but not enough to make your back-seat passengers feel car sick on long journeys. You can pay extra for the Dynamic Chassis Control option that allows you to choose between soft or sporty setups but it costs quite a bit and doesn’t make a huge amount of difference.
You’ll be much better off putting your extra cash into some of the VW T-Roc’s upgraded safety kit – such as the sensibly-priced Pre-Crash occupant protection system. This’ll close the windows, ready the brakes for an emergency stop and pre-tension the seat belts to hold you securely in place if it detects you might be about to have a crash.
You also get automatic emergency braking as standard across the T-Roc range that’ll help avoid accidents by applying the brakes if the car’s sensors detect an obstacle in the road ahead. All but entry-level S cars also come with adaptive cruise control too, that’ll help maintain a safe distance to cars in front and return to your chosen speed once the road’s clear. It’s no surprise, then, that the T-Roc scored a full five stars in Euro NCAP’s crash testing.