What is it?
Why should I buy one?
Silent engine, quick gearbox, great dynamics, safety tech
Why should I avoid it?
Limited second row space, no diesel option
What is it?
It's Volkswagen's crucial step towards expanding its presence in the SUV space in India. The T-Roc is slotted below the newly launched Tiguan AllSpace, and will remain to be the brand's most affordable SUV till the Taigun is launched here. However, does it make a compelling entry in our market? We find out.
Most German cars exude understated elegance and the T-Roc also has those traits. However, it's a part of VW's new product offensive that's bolder, more stylish and vivid, which also explains this fashionable Kurkuma yellow. One can have it in orange, blue, white, black and even grey. It makes it look attractive and covers up for not having a huge presence. It's not as long or tall as the Compass, or even the Cretas and Hectors we've got used to seeing. But it's more of a crossover that's as wide, and more importantly less fussy in design. A three-part lighting set-up is smartly done. On top are LED headlamps, then DRLs in the bumper doubling up as side indicators and lower down fog lamps with cornering function. Moreover, the twin-slat grille, cascading bumper, bonnet, sharp shoulder line, roof-line with rails, bi-coloured alloys and even the rear section with tastefully designed LED lamps make the T-Roc look suave.
How is it on the inside?
You slide into the driver's seat with ease to find yourself in a good commanding position. The driver-centric dashboard isn't very high, so frontal visibility is good and gauging all corners of the car is easy even with mid height seat position. However, rearward visibility isn't the best due to the raked rear windshield and sloping roofline with a restricted view. This pale golden bronze on the dash is nice, but I would have preferred the bright accented dash for more spunk. It’s a solidly built interior with good fit and finish, but the lack of soft-touch materials is a glaring miss. It's a compact crossover built on the MQB platform, and yet space utilisation in the front is good with many storage places too. Then, the body-hugging front seats are quite supportive and even get manually adjustable lumbar support. Still, all-electric seat adjustments would have been a delight. As for the rear seats, these are adequately tilted and are nice and snug with a firmly padded foam. However, we noticed that the transmission tunnel and slightly raised portion in the middle makes it uncomfortable for a third person to fit in. Also, legroom and headroom is tight despite the seats and the roof being carved out. Interestingly, these 60:40 split-folding rear seats add up more flexibility and luggage options to a fairly spacious 455litre boot.
The T-Roc is available only as a fully-loaded top-spec trim with a lot of equipment on-board. There’s a highly customisable 10.25-inch ‘virtual cockpit' and an 8.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system. While the former is an alluring digital instrument console packing in a lot of information and with many personalisation options, the latter is quite fast with good tactile feedback. It's compatible with Android and IOS devices, and also boasts of VW’s WeConnect Go app. An owner gets all vehicle information from this app and can also call for emergency or roadside assistance. It misses out on wireless charging and cruise control, but gets dual-zone climate control, keyless-entry, navigation and panoramic sunroof. What's more, it has heat-insulating windshield, green heat insulated windows and the front seats get heating functions as well. On the safety front, the T-Roc has a five-star EURO NCAP rating for adult and child occupants. There are six-airbags, front and rear parking sensors, ABS with EBD, ESC, TPMS and reverse camera. Its safety suite further includes segment-firsts like lane assist and head-on-collision warning with braking.
How does it drive?
The T-Roc's 148bhp 1.5-litre, four-cylinder TSI engine powers the front wheels through a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission. VW has equipped this mill with an Active Cylinder Technology (ACT). Earlier seen only in high-end cars, it's good to see VW bringing this tech to more affordable cars too. What it does is, it shuts down two out of the four cylinders at low engine loads to reduce fuel consumption. It happens whenever you're cruising around with gentle throttle inputs. Apart from a small sign on the instrument cluster, you won't even notice it as the transition is so smooth. Well, the engine noise is anyway barely audible inside the cabin. It's a silent motor and the revs can be heard only post 3,000rpm. Still, not at all noisy.
In the D mode, it smoothly moves ahead and will keep upshifting at 2,000rpm. It'll sit in the highest gear possible and make use of the 250Nm of torque to get going. The turbo lag isn't noticeable and even with light throttle inputs, the DSG upshifts smoothly till the seventh gear. Put it in sport mode, and you'll see how easily it free revs to its 6,500rpm redline. Hard press the accelerator and it upshifts only after it hits this limiter. It even picks up speed very quickly. Though the T-Roc doesn't show sporty pretensions, it clocked a sub-10sec 0-100kmph sprint time in our V-Box tests. Even our acceleration runs in kick-down testify its strong mid-range to take on city traffic with ease. Overtaking even a long vehicle won't make you nervous as the T-Roc is quite quick to pull up ahead with confidence. Moreover, its manual mode and paddle shifters let you take charge and it's quite fun with its quick and responsive shifts. Even out on the highway, it cruises nicely at low revs with minimal load on the engine.
Now onto the ride and handling part. The T-Roc does feel a little firm on smaller bumps and broken roads. But go slow and it won't give you the jitters. In fact, its suspension is well-damped and I loved how it handled some of the unpaved rural roads without breaking a sweat. Its 215/55 17 tyre profile feels ideal for both on-road and off-road usage with good grip. It complements the brakes that have a good bite and a progressive feel at the pedal too. Inside the cabin as well, there's not much of a side-to-side movement. In fact, the T-Roc moves with a planted poise. And with minimal body roll, it feels reasonably balanced around corners too. It further impresses with its high-speed stability with minimal road noise even above triple digit speeds. What keeps and makes you feel connected is its light steering which feels effortless while parking. However, it feels a tad slow around the dead centre. I would have loved it to be more direct especially with such a sporty demeanour. It weighs up nicely nonetheless and keeps the driver engaged in a fun to drive SUV.
Should I buy one?
The T-Roc is a new product, looks different yet handsome, has respectable features and backs it up with a German robust build and latest safety tech. Then, a smooth engine, quick and responsive gearbox and brilliant dynamics are few more of its many strengths. On the flip side, it misses out on a little luxury equipment and the second row can only accommodate two occupants spaciously. Again, there's no 4x4 or even a diesel option for buyers who clock a lot of kilometres. This hampers it from being a very compelling buy. But do take note, this is a CBU model and an on-road price of Rs 25.65 lakh (Mumbai) is still in the ballpark of some of the petrol automatic rivals like the Jeep Compass. In fact, it's lower than the Hyundai Tucson and the Skoda Karoq. No wonder VW has sold out its first 1,000 units of this impressive product.
Where does it fit in?
Speaking of competition, an ex-showroom price of Rs 19.99 lakh puts it directly in the Jeep Compass' territory. The other petrol automatic cars in this mid-size SUV segment are the Hyundai Tucson and the Skoda Karoq, but they are priced on the higher side.
Pictures by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi