Is the Volkswagen T-Roc reliable?

A reader is considering buying a Volkswagen T-Roc, but is concerned about the reliability of the brand, and the model...

Volkswagen T-Roc driving

We are thinking of buying a Volkswagen T-Roc 1.5 TFSI SEL. We have looked at the car in the showroom and read your review, which says the car is the best in class for driving and handling and has a decent amount of equipment. 

However, your review only gives the T-Roc three out of five stars for reliability, implying that Volkswagens are not reliable. Are you saying that all VW vehicles are unreliable, or are you saying that the T-Roc is unreliable? If it is specifically the T-Roc, what are the faults with the car?

Graham and Carla Goodall

What Car? says…

You’re right, the T-Roc is one of the best cars in its class to drive, although it’s not necessarily the absolute benchmark because the Ford Puma has the best handling and the Skoda Kamiq is best for ride quality. It’s well equipped in SEL trim, too. 

The three-star score for reliability means the T-Roc is average for reliability, which means it’s not the most durable, but it’s also not the worst for reliability. 

Although the T-Roc is the second most unreliable small SUV, that’s partly because the class itself has a really strong reliability record. Sixteen of the 18 small SUVs rated in our Reliability Survey have scores higher than 90%. 

The T-Roc scores 86.5% because a significant proportion (25%) of cars had a fault and the majority of cars took more than a week to fix. However, the most common problems were minor bodywork or interior trim issues, so most cars that had a fault could still be driven and all repair work was done for free under warranty. 

There were some reports of engine problems, which relate to a known issue with VW Group petrol engines; the cars ‘kangaroo’ when pulling away in first gear in cold weather. Volkswagen has issued a fix for this, and while it has improved many cars, some owners are still dissatisfied. Therefore we’d advise you to take a car for a test drive first thing in the morning when the weather and the car’s engine will both be cold. 

If reliability is your priority, you might want to consider the Seat Arona instead, because this is a four-star car based on the same platform as the T-Roc and it gained a reliability rating of 93.6%.   

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What Car? Reliability Survey: small SUVs

Average reliability score for class 93.3%

Most reliable Kia Soul (2014-2019) 100%

What went wrong? Nothing

2019 Kia Soul

Three-quarters of Kia Soul owners said the thing they considered most important when buying was reliability, and this SUV has really lived up to their expectations, with not a single one going wrong. 

A mere 5% of Mini Countrymans had a problem, faults being split evenly between interior trim and non-engine electrics. All examples remained drivable and all were fixed in less than a week at no cost to their owners. 

The Suzuki Vitara isn’t far behind the top two, with just 7% of cars suffering a fault. Non-engine electrics were the main culprit, and there were a few problems with other areas, including the bodywork, engine and sat-nav. All cars could still be driven, although half took more than a week to fix. While the majority of repairs were free, a small number of owners had to pay bills ranging from £51 to £100. 

Jeep Renegade front studio

Least reliable Jeep Renegade (2015-present) 77.1%

What went wrong? Non-engine electrics 33% Brake system 17% Air-con 11% Sat-nav 11% Bodywork 6% Exhaust 6% Gearbox/clutch 6%

The Jeep Renegade has been plagued by electrical faults, with some owners telling us their DAB radios and dashboard displays stopped working properly. Most cars could still be driven and were fixed the same day, but a third of owners had to pay between £51 and £1500. 

The Volkswagen T-Roc and Audi Q2, meanwhile, aren’t terribly unreliable, but they’re up against stiff competition in this class.

While 25% of T-Rocs had a fault, most (13%) concerned bodywork. There were also issues with the engine and its electrics. All work was done under warranty, but most took more than a week to repair. 

Nearly as many Q2s had a fault (24%), and they were more serious: non-engine electrics (10%) and gearbox/clutch (7%). Most were fixed in less than a week and repaired for free, but some cost between £201-£1500. 

Results for small SUVs aged up to five years old

Rank Make and model Score
1. Kia Soul 2014-2019 100%
2. Mini Countryman 2017-on 99.1%
3. Suzuki Vitara 2015-on 97.6%
4. Skoda Yeti petrol 2009-2017 97.4%
5. Peugeot 2008 2013-on 97.1%
=6.  Skoda Yeti diesel 2009-2017 96.9%
=6.  Suzuki SX4 S-Cross 2013-on 96.9%
8.  Suzuki Ignis 2017-on 96.5%
9.  Ford Ecosport 2014-on 95.3%
=10. Mazda CX-3 2016-on 95.2%
=10. Nissan Juke 2010-on 95.2%
12. Vauxhall Mokka and Mokka X 2012-on 94.3%
13. Seat Arona 2017-on 93.6%
14. Renault Captur 2013-on 92.9%
15. Honda HR-V 2015-on 92.8%
16. Audi Q2 2016-on 92.4%
17. Volkswagen T-Roc 2018-on 86.5%
18. Jeep Renegade 2015-on 77.%

Next: Most reliable family SUVs >

Tell us about your car in the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey