Volkswagen T-Roc long-term test: report 1

Can What Car?'s 5-star small SUV of 2023 be the perfect companion for our senior videographer? That's what we're going to be finding out over the coming months...

Sitting in the T-Roc boot

The car Volkswagen T-Roc 1.0 TSI 110 Life Run by Kiall Garrett, senior videographer

Why it’s here To prove whether this five-star small SUV can be big enough and comfortable enough to meet the demands of regular long-distance load-lugging journeys.

Needs to be spacious enough to carry around lots of camera equipment and chew through long motorway journeys with ease while delivering good fuel economy on a town-based commute.

Mileage 576 List Price £27,815 Target Price £26,414 Price as tested £30,585 Official economy 47.1mpg Test economy 46.3mpg Options Media navigation system (£810), wireless phone charger, (£385), rear-view camera (£300), rear tinted glass (£275), carpet mats (£115)

7 December 2023 – Small SUV, big possibilities

Although I’ve only just taken delivery of the VW T-Roc, my interest in getting hold of one started quite a few months ago.

It was on a video shoot up in an unnervingly sunny Yorkshire at the start of the year where we were naming the very best petrol cars on sale at that moment. In true What Car? fashion, there was a startlingly diverse collection of metal there.

Volkswagen T-Roc rear driveby

The Honda Civic and Kia Sportage were nestled in the car park between a Porsche Cayman and BMW 4 Series

VW’s five-star small SUV, the T-Roc, completed the lineup and overall it was named the fifth-best petrol car you could buy at the time – even so, against such strong opposition, my interest was piqued.

I remember when the T-Roc first went on sale in 2017, and the reviews of the time praised its comfort and practicality but called out its disappointingly cheap-feeling interior. However, over the years, some tweaks and a facelift has improved the interior no end, so the car I sat in on that video shoot felt bang up to date and nice inside.

I covered a lot of miles on the shoot in that car and instantly thought it’d be an ideal long-term test car to run. Both its ride comfort over Yorkshire B-roads and its impressive boot really stood out to me.

Driving the Volkswagen T-Roc

So here I am now happily facing the prospect of some months and miles ahead with a T-Roc of my own.

The model I’ve chosen is the entry-level 1.0 TSI 110 petrol. The T-Roc sits at the pricier end of the small SUV class, so I thought I’d pick a cheaper engine to keep the price down – I’d heard good things about the 109bhp 1.0-litre anyway, and the 1.5-litre would require an additional £2000.

I’m hoping to get close to the official 47.1mpg figure from the 1.0-litre, too. I’ve just finished running a plug-in hybrid Peugeot 308, so it’s unlikely this pure petrol T-Roc will match the economy I could get on my town-based low-mileage commute in that, but I’m expecting it to impress on longer motorway journeys.

I’ve also gone for the six-speed manual gearbox, instead of the automatic alternative. I previously ran a back-to-basics Skoda Fabia and loved having a manual gearbox – something which seems a novelty in new cars today with the rise of electric cars and a general growing preference of autos.

Volkswagen T-Roc manual gearbox

Speaking of previous long term test cars; I’m no stranger to small SUVs. I’ve previously had great experiences running a Seat Arona and Suzuki S-Cross.

There were some drawbacks with them, though. As they are “small” by definition, I found the 400-litre boot in the Arona to be a bit of a squeeze to pack all of my kit in – as one of What Car?'s videographers I’m forever weighed down by tonnes of equipment. I’m hoping the T-Roc’s 445-litre boot will prove to be noticeably bigger.

And, yes, I’ve mentioned the T-Roc is on the pricier side compared to its rivals, but you do at least get a lot of bang for your buck. Entry-level Life trim is well equipped with an 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system that gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you also get two-zone climate control and a digital driver display.

I thought Life trim was well equipped enough and I didn’t need to jump up £3000 for Style trim, where the T-Roc strays quite close to Audi Q2 and BMW X1 territory.

T-Roc wireless phone charger

I chose the red metallic paint to give the T-Roc a little extra flair, and opted to add wireless phone charging for some added convenience. The media navigation system provides routes, road sign displays and online traffic information to help on longer journeys.

Having just arrived I’ve only been able to do a couple of airport runs in the T-Roc so far, but I’m already feeling positive about it. This is the exact spec which What Car? named as the best small SUV you could buy in 2023 – I’m hoping for a five-star experience with it over the next few months.

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