2019 Volkswagen T-Roc first drive review
It's interesting to see how Volkswagen has been able to use the expertise from the various brands it has under its massive umbrella, to beef up its own product arsenal. Of course, with changing times, we've seen the German major enter new segments to cater to changing customer demands. For instance the all-new T-Roc. I really don't need to tell you how compact SUVs are the rage these days we're seeing a slew of launches in India and the picture isn't very different say, in the European Union.
The Volkswagen is a compact SUV that will take on the Hyundai if launched in India. It is on sale internationally already and is on offer with various petrol and diesel engines, along with the option of either a manual or automatic transmission
And the T-Roc in effect is exactly that. A compact SUV positioned as a more practical alternative to similarly priced hatchbacks and sedans. It's a little over four metres in length and not very tall, in fact you could assume the T-Roc is a hopped up hatchback, but it isn't. It's based on the same platform (Volkswagen Group's ubiquitous MQB) as the Audi Q2. It's almost as long as the Hyundai Creta but not as tall which should give you an idea of how big (or small!) it is. The design makes it look like a scaled down version of the new generation Touareg in fact. The hood has a slight bulge to add muscle, but the rest of the face is simple and sharp looking, typical of Volkswagen designs.
I liked the LED daytime running lamps as they look distinctive, surrounding the faux intakes at the edges of the bumper. It's easy to note the resemblance to the Q2 from the sides, especially the C-pillar, though the rear looks a lot more distinctive. We drove the European-spec T-Roc on the streets of Amsterdam, in the top of the line trim. The interiors felt familiar as the layout and design is identical to the Tiguan sold in India. The cabin thus feels more premium and upmarket than you would expect of a compact SUV not just thanks to the quality of materials and soft-touch panels but also the brilliant looking digital instrument cluster called the Active Info Display.
The Volkswagen T-Roc's interiors boast a premium feel that makes it look like a bigger, more expensive SUV than it is. Interiors can be specced lavishly, as seen here, with colour-matched panels and Volkswagen's digital TFT display instrument cluster called the Active Info Display
I also liked the fact that interior panels have been colour-matched to the SUV's exterior colour which makes for a very youthful feel, unlike the relatively drab feel in several other Volkswagens. The view from behind the wheel isn't exactly towering but the T-Roc offers a good view, while the seats feel plush and premium. I did not get a chance to try the rear bench but leg and kneeroom looked decent, though I have to mention boot space was impressive for a car measuring just 4.2 metres in length. Our test car also came loaded to the gills with equipment, including front parking sensors, reverse camera with sensors, smartphone connectivity, navigation and a lot more.
We drove the version powered by Volkswagen's 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine in its highest state of tune. The motor offers an impressive 115PS and 200Nm in the T-Roc and is expected to come to India in the same state of tune in the smaller T-Cross that's expected to debut here in 2020. The engine feels sprightly from the word go and almost belies being just a 999cc triple. In fact the responses felt quicker than say, Volkswagen's own 1.4-litre TSI motor, though a lot of that has to do with the T-Roc's lightweight construction. The T-Roc is offered with bigger engines as well, including a 150PS, 1.5-litre petrol and a 190PS, 2.0-litre petrol motor, apart from a 115PS, 1.6-litre diesel and a 150PS, 2.0-litre diesel.
The Volkswagen T-Roc looks like a proper SUV from the rear three-quarter, despite effectively being a compact crossover and has an upmarket appeal to it
You can pair the engines to a six-speed manual gearbox or Volkswagen's popular seven-speed DSG. We drove the front-wheel drive version but in Europe, the T-Roc can also be had with Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel drive system. While low-end performance was impressive in Amsterdam's traffic, particularly thanks to the fact that there's barely any turbo lag, the 1.0-litre engine also felt unstressed cruising at speeds above 140kmph on the Autobahn.
Our drive was too short to comment on the handling but out on the highway, the T-Roc felt extremely composed and planted like any other Volkswagen, even when clipping at high speeds. It has the typical 'German car' feel in that sense, given the firm suspension that offers a sporty and confident feel. We thus only got a little taste of what the T-Roc brings to the compact SUV space it has all the typical virtues of a Volkswagen car, like the solid build quality, excellent fit-finish levels and a premium feel inside out, apart from strong engine performance and excellent handling.
We don't have confirmation about Volkswagen bringing the T-Roc to India yet, though the smaller T-Cross is confirmed launch for next year. But if the T-Roc does come to India we expect Volkswagen to offer it with the 1.0-litre petrol engine and the 1.6-litre diesel, paired to manual and automatic transmissions both. It will be positioned against SUVs like the Hyundai Creta and Jeep Compass, as also a host of other SUVs in that range and could be priced in the Rs 14-18 lakh price range.
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