Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The great news is that we reckon the cheapest engine is the one to go for. It's a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder with 113bhp, badged as the 1.0 TSI 115. It might be small but, thanks to its turbocharger, it packs a relatively mighty punch, with good pace (0-62mph in a whisker over 10sec) when you rev it hard and enough low-down shove to make it flexible – even at motorway speeds. Of its rivals, only the Ford Puma offers more oomph for similar money.
If you fancy a bit more vim and vigour – or maybe you carry lots of passengers and luggage – it's worth looking at the 148bhp 1.5 TSI 150. It is noticeably quicker than the 1.0-litre, cutting nearly two seconds off the 0-62mph time and providing more overtaking opportunities with less stress and fewer gear changes. Also, it brings the option of a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which the 1.0 TSI 115 doesn't.
The 187bhp 2.0 TSI 190 is quicker still and comes with the automatic ‘box and four-wheel drive as standard. The former shifts gears quickly and the latter provides added traction in greasy conditions. It's certainly a strong performer but a bit of an overkill. What about diesels? Well, the 113bhp 1.6 TDI 115 has adequate pace, while the 148bhp 2.0 TDI 150 pulls strongly from low revs. It also comes with standard four-wheel drive, making it the ideal option for towing a caravan.
Suspension and ride comfort
The cheaper versions of the T-Roc – those that come with smaller wheels and higher-profile tyres – are supremely comfortable. Compared with other small SUVs, from the Audi Q2 and Mini Countryman to the Ford Puma and Seat Arona, they soak up bumps better, but aren't so soft – like the Citroën C3 Aircross – that they bounce you out of your seat along undulating roads.
Add the optional Dynamic Chassis Control and you can also soften or firm up the ride to suit your mood (or the road you're driving down). However, the differences are subtle and the system isn't cheap, so we wouldn’t bother adding it. We’d also save a few more pounds by avoiding the pricier trims that come with bigger wheels: these make the ride knobblier.
You rarely get something for nothing in this world and, sure enough, the price you pay for the T-Roc’s forgiving ride is more body roll through corners than you get with some of its rivals. Around town that makes little difference – it's a light and easy car to drive through the cityscape. Even on the open roads it's very reassuring; the well-weighted and responsive steering does your bidding, and there's enough grip and balance to feel confident with what's underneath you.
It's simply that, compared with the Ford Puma, which is ultra-agile and responsive enough to be genuinely enjoyable to drive for a small SUV, the T-Roc's comfort bias leaves it feeling just a wee bit off the pace.
Range-topping SEL trim has a system called Driving Profile Selection, which lets you alter the weight of the steering and the response of the accelerator. As with the optional Dynamic Chassis Control, it doesn't have a dramatic effect on the way the car behaves, so we wouldn’t recommend adding it as an option on the cheaper variants.
Noise and vibration
Our favourite engine, the 1.0 TSI 115, is quiet enough around town, but gets a touch raspy when you pick up the pace and work it hard. Both the 1.5 TSI 150 and 2.0 TSI 190 prove quieter in use because they don't need to be revved as vigorously, and are also generally smoother, with just a bit of boom as you rev them out. The diesels produce a bit more rumble, particularly the 1.6 TDI 115.
Whichever version you go for, if it has a manual gearbox it'll be light with an intuitive clutch, so the T-Roc's no effort to drive in traffic. That's also helped by its progressive brakes, which make it dead easy to come to a controlled stop. The dual-clutch automatic gearbox is a bit jerky in slow traffic or when trying to nudge into a parking spot, but changes smoothly through the gears.
Once you're up to motorway speeds you'll also find that the T-Roc does a fine job of isolating you from road and wind noise – better than all its rivals, as it happens – so if you value calm and relaxed progress, you'll like the T-Roc.