The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
Getting comfortable in the T-Roc is easy; its seat cushions are comfy and there’s a good range of adjustment available – to both the seat and the steering wheel. There is a small demerit: none of the trims come with adjustable lumbar support as standard. You can add it (on all but the entry-level version), and as it'll only set you back the price of a pair of mid-range headphones, and does wonders for your lower-back support, it's a box we recommend ticking.
If you like to sit high up, that’s another reason to buy a T-Roc. It places you farther from the road than many other small SUVs; in rivals such as the Seat Arona, Skoda Kamiq and Kia Stonic, you'll feel barely any higher than you would in a hatchback.
And finally, there’s a fine dashboard layout. All the knobs and buttons have been arranged with a great deal of sense, and the dials are also clear. You can replace these with the optional Active Info Display (standard on range-topping SEL trim), which replaces the conventional analogue instruments with a screen that presents a vast amount of information very clearly. It'll even show you a full-width sat-nav map – assuming you have sat-nav fitted.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
That relatively lofty driving position, combined with slim windscreen pillars, allows a great view of the road ahead. Rear visibility is more restricted – the Skoda Kamiq gives you a better view out the back – but as you get front and rear parking sensors as standard (on all but entry-level S trim), that's not a massive problem. And the T-Roc is still easier to see out the rear of than a Seat Arona or Kia Stonic.
There’s also the option of a rear-view camera or a bird’s-eye-view camera, both of which help you to spot any obstacles while parking. You can even add a self-parking system that can detect a big enough parking space and robotically steer you into it.
Bright LED headlights, which offer great illumination at night, are standard on SEL trim. These are quite a pricey option on the other trims, but do make a massive difference compared with the standard halogen headlights.
Sat nav and infotainment
The T-Roc's standard 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system is positioned usefully high up on the dashboard. This is just as well, because with no physical shortcut buttons – the kind you can feel your way around after a little familiarisation – no matter how familiar you are with the system you have to take your eyes off the road to use it. The only saving grace is that the two physical knobs either side of the screen are intuitive to use – one is for the volume and the other is used to scroll down through lists.
To be fair, many of its rivals' infotainment systems use touchscreens, too; only the Mini Countryman's rotary controller offers something that's less distracting to use. And otherwise, the T-Roc's system is fine to use, responding quickly to screen-prods and providing well-structured menus that prove a doddle to understand.
What's more, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring comes as standard on all but entry-level S trim, where it's a reasonably priced option. This is great, because instead of paying for the in-built sat-nav, which comes standard only from SEL trim, you can use apps such as Google Maps or Waze, mirrored from your phone directly from the car's screen, instead. Voice activation is another option on all but the top two trims, and wireless charging, which is standard on a Ford Puma, isn’t available.
Chances are you’re expecting the T-Roc to look and feel quite posh inside. After all, it's a Volkswagen, and Volkswagen has a history of providing upmarket interiors – even in models like the much cheaper Polo.
Well, not here. The interior quality is actually the most disappointing aspect of the T-Roc. It feels surprisingly cheap inside, with hard, unyielding plastics the order of the day throughout. Quality is roughly on a par with the cheaper Seat Arona and Volkswagen T-Cross, and a world away from the Nissan Juke's interior, or those of the premium-badged Audi Q2 and Mini Countryman. Even the Skoda Kamiq (Volkswagen's budget brand) provides plusher materials for less money.
This is one of the reasons we reckon the cheaper end of the T-Roc range makes the most sense. Design trim, for example, brightens up the interior a little with a selection of coloured dashboard inserts and ambient interior lighting.