2020 Volkswagen T-Roc 1.5 TSI review

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Volkswagen T-Roc
The T-Roc was designed to appeal to those few customers who wish to experience the exclusivity and appreciate a fine car, and this certainly is!

Before we begin this review, let’s dig a little deeper and know why it’s called T-Roc, the word ‘roc’ is derived from the English word ‘Rock’ and the fellas from Wolfsberg want it to rock its segment. Which segment, you may ask? The segment between the premium end of the Hyundai Creta or the Kia Seltos and the Volkswagen Tiguan. It is not too distant from its cousin Skoda Karoq, either. You can also throw in a Jeep Compass in between and now you know how the whole line up looks like.

Volkswagen T-Roc review- Topgear Magazine
Volkswagen T-Roc (Image: BBC TopGear India)

The good and bad of the T-Roc is ironically the same. One powertrain, one model, and one India price of 19.99 lakh (ex-showroom); no confusions on this one. If you are looking for an SUV with the formula: Price = Feature + Size, perhaps you are on the wrong page. Looking for a well built German SUV which is different and exclusive? Let’s continue the conversation. The T-Roc is a bit different and it would appeal to a different set of people and that’s the reason why its first lot of a thousand cars, all CBUs, are almost sold out.To put it gently, this isn’t the biggest car of its segment. If anything, it looks more like a crossover than an SUV, and while that might simmer down the excitement for many, it only gets better for me. SUVs by nature aren’t the most driver-oriented vehicles in terms of their driving dynamics, however, this has a clear edge over its rivals and the same is further aided by its width and its engine. More on that later.

Comparision Chart

VW T-Roc 1.5 TSI Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI Hyundai Creta 1.4 Turbo GDi DCT Kia Seltos 1.4 T-GDi DCT
Engine 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged TSI 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged TSI 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged Kappa GDi 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged Smartstream T-GDi
Power 148bhp@5,000rpm 145bhp@5,000rpm 138bhp@6,000rpm 138bhp@6,000rpm
Torque 250Nm@1,500rpm 250Nm@1,500rpm 242Nm@1,500rpm 242Nm@1,500rpm
Length 4,234mm 4,382mm 4,300mm 4,315mm
Width 1,819mm 1,841mm 1,790mm 1,800mm
Height 1,573mm 1,624mm 1,635mm 2,610mm
Price (ex-showroom) Rs 19.99 lakhs Rs 24.99 lakhs Rs 17.20 lakhs (SX (O) Turbo 7 DCT) Rs 17.29 lakhs (GTX Plus DCT 1.4)

 

Volkswagen T-Roc review- Topgear Magazine India
Volkswagen T-Roc (Image: BBC TopGear India)

Exterior

The front grille accentuates the width of the T-Roc – it neatly spreads across the front facia and is outlined by a running chrome strip.The DRLs are placed under the headlamps, which also double up as turn indicators. Further below are the fog lamps, and the three lighting elements on either side add up to give it a distinct look. I really like the sharp creases on the bonnet, it’s a trick only German cars can play and it adds to the striking appeal that the T-Roc has. But T-Roc gets more exciting from the rear and that surely must have drawn all the attention of it’s initial takers. The striking and sporty lines add character to the entire package and the sloping roofline gives it an unmissable look. The sharp creases can be found on the rear as well and the T-Roc insignia under the VW logo compliments the tailgate. Another highlight is the all-black treatment on the entire roof, which also houses a panoramic sunroof and roof rails. It’s a striking car to look at, especially from the rear three quarters. It’s extremely well finished, has just about the right amount of chrome garnish and it’s oddly satisfying how minimal and consistent the panel gaps are. 

Now what you would not like is the manual boot-lid which does not even integrate a handle to operate. It has two grooves but it’s a complicated twist of your wrist to get to it and you will end up burning or dirtying your hand, depending on the season. Its boot space with 445L is quite adequate and has a through-loading hatch which can house longer items here and you can also open the seats down and get an expansive boot space.

Volkswagen T-Roc review- Topgear Magazine Online
Volkswagen T-Roc (Image: BBC TopGear India)

Interiors

The rear seats with the limited space bring in the realisation that this isn’t the longest car of its segment. The seats themselves have good support and cushioning, however I would strictly classify the bench as a two-seater and not three. We actually tried putting three 6-footers at the rear seat, and it was a disaster. Furthermore, the transmission tunnel eats into the cabin space and the back support for the middle passenger is well, irksome. However, for the two with the window seats, there is a good view and the window pane goes all the way down.

The panoramic sunroof is not the biggest and from the rear seat if you decide to go up to soak in the breeze or do photography, then you should be South of 28-inches from your waist.

Step inside and you will be reminded how European this thing is and be vowed by the entire cabin’s fit, finish and quality which is minimalist and on point. The all-digital dials greet you with crisp animations and the seats are well contoured as well, allowing you to settle in with utmost comfort. Though cabin plastics are short of Volkswagen standards and it’s hard plastics on the dash and the sides.

Volkswagen T-Roc review- Topgear Magazine
Volkswagen T-Roc (Image: BBC TopGear India)

In-car tech

Very neatly laid out is the 10-inch crisp digital instrument display, an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and of course compatible with Volkswagen’s WeConnect Go. No wireless charging though it’s possible to get an aftermarket one. Electronic parking brake with auto hold and 6 airbags with a 5-star EURO NCAP rating for adult and child occupants ticks the safety boxes boldly. There are heated mirrors, front and rear parking sensors with a clear camera view of the rear. The lane assist kicks in and you can sense the steering gravitating back on its original path if it senses you have crossed the lane markers. We had a bit of soft offroading in a muddy path and the head-on collision warning system, as well as the braking system kicked in when they sensed the uneven block of mud.

Volkswagen T-Roc review - Topgeear Car Magazine
Volkswagen T-Roc (Image: BBC TopGear India)

Driving

Since Volkswagen decided to entirely phase out diesel powertrains from the Indian market, the T-Roc is being offered with a sole BS6-compliant 1.5-litre turbocharged TSI petrol engine, that puts out 148bhp along with 250Nm of peak torque with a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission as standard and as we all have come to know this is possibly the best gearbox out there. The shifts are quick, and you are never made aware of its mechanical presence. The normal driving mode D allows you to amble around in city traffic or even cruise down the highways. The Sport mode holds the revs to almost the redline of 6,500rpm and allows for the car to be driven more aggressively. Then there is the manual mode, which can also be operated via the pedal shifters, which are a tad too small to operate but nevertheless add that sense of manual control for the engine speeds. This transmission allows the T-Roc to be both calm and engaging to drive with a flick of a stick, and that’s the highlight of this transmission. There are no body rolls and it grips the road much better than a typical SUV, providing a confidence-inspiring steering feedback even at high speeds.

The T-Roc also comes equipped with Active Cylinder Technology (ACT) that senses the driving pattern and accordingly activates or deactivates two cylinders out of four, resulting in reduced fuel consumption. The switch happens faster than a blink of the eye as it senses your driving pattern.

Volkswagen T-Roc Car Review - Topgear Magazine India
Volkswagen T-Roc (Image: BBC TopGear India)

Verdict

The T-Roc is a striking thing to look at, and it sure is going to attract attention for its bold and sharp lines and design. To put it simply, it’s a stylish crossover for people who don’t need family space which houses an equally impressive engine that is extremely refined, revv happy and clever too! Yes, it’s a little low on space,  and yes it isn’t the most affordable as well. But that was never what the T-Roc wanted to be in the first place. This was designed to appeal to those few customers who wish to experience the exclusivity and appreciate a fine car, and this certainly is!

Quick Specs

Cost: 19.99 lakh (ex-showroom)

Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged TSI EVO

Power: 148bhp@5,000rpm

Torque: 250Nm@1,500rpm

Fuel Efficiency: 15.15kmpl

Transmission: Seven-speed DSG

Bootspace: 445 litres

Fuel Tank: 59 litres