Volkswagen T-Roc R long-term test: report 1

The 296bhp Volkswagen T-Roc R is one of the best sports SUVs to drive, but how easy is it to live with? We're finding out...

LT Volkswagen T-Roc R rear

The car Volkswagen T-Roc R 2.0 TSI 300 4Motion DSG Run by Steve Huntingford, editor

Why it’s here To see if this thrilling sports SUV continues to impress when you live with it every day

Needs to Combine its undoubted pace and agility with practicality

List price £40,735 Target Price £38,120 Price as tested £46,709 Miles 280 Official economy 32.5mpg Test economy 27.8mpg Options fitted Akrapovic titanium sport exhaust (£3050), Lapiz Blue metallic paint (£755), Dynamic Chassis Control (£695), tracker (£534), black contrasting roof (£430), Driver’s Assistance Pack Plus (£205), rear-view camera (£190) and Lapiz Blue Dashboard Pack (£115)

25 July – First impressions

Volkswagen hot hatches are generally great all-rounders, rather than the sharpest cars of their kind. However, when we group tested the brand’s first sports SUV, the T-Roc R, it impressed for altogether different reasons.

We actually found it to be both less comfortable and less practical than the rival Cupra Ateca, but still awarded it the win because it was ‘biblically good in the bends’. In short, we decided the fun outweighed the flaws. But now I’m putting that to the ultimate test by actually living with a T-Roc R.

Volkswagen T-Roc R vs Cupra Ateca

The technical highlights of the car are the 296bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, four-wheel drive system and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox from the Golf R hot hatch. Meanwhile, visual changes over lesser T-Rocs include 19in alloy wheels, an enlarged rear spoiler, beefier looking bumpers and quad exhausts.

The interior has also been modified, gaining a pair of figure-hugging front sports seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and a good few ‘R’ emblems. And there’s a long list of standard equipment, with bright LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control and an 8.0in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring all fitted.

True, that screen is actually quite small by modern standards; the latest Golf’s is 10.0in, for example. However, I find the T-Roc’s easier to use, because its menus are simpler and there’s a rotary knob for scrolling up and down lists.

Volkswagen T-Roc R 2020 RHD infotainment

Beyond, what’s standard, I’ve added a contrasting black roof (for £425) because this makes the car look lower and sportier, the Lapiz Blue Dashboard Pack (£205), which lifts the T-Roc’s rather drab interior by bringing some body-coloured trim inserts, and Dynamic Chassis Control (£695), which lets you stiffen and soften the suspension on demand.

I’ve also got the Driver’s Assistance Pack Plus (£205), which brings lane-keeping and traffic jam assistance – the latter allows the car to control its own steering, acceleration and braking in slow-moving traffic.

But perhaps the optional extra that I’m most excited about is the Akrapovic (no sniggering at the back) titanium sports exhaust. It’s undoubtedly an extravagance at £3050, but if you drive a sports SUV, you want it to sound the part, right?

LT Volkswagen T-Roc R side action

I’m certainly finding plenty to get excited about in the way the T-Roc R handles, with it mixing precise, quick-reacting steering with a vice-like grip on the road. What’s more, you can really feel the power being sent to the back wheels when exiting corners, helping to prevent the nose from running wide.

Crucially, though, while the ride is firm, my early impressions are that it’s not overly so; my three-year-old daughter has already shown that it’s perfectly possible to fall asleep in the back of the car.

Over the next few months I’ll be using my T-Roc R for a mix of family duties, commuting (coronavirus permitting) and longer drives. Here’s hoping the plus column continues to be much longer than the minus one.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

Read our full Volkswagen T-Roc R review >>

Read about more long-term test cars >>

Buy through What Car?

Like the sound of the Volkswagen T-Roc R?

If so, make sure you visit our New Car Buying section, because we could potentially save you thousands, thanks to our network of What Car? approved dealers.

They've all guaranteed to match or beat our Target Price, which is the price we think you should pay based on research by our team of mystery shoppers.

Also consider