The small SUV market is a highly contestable segment of the automotive landscape, not only here in New Zealand but overseas too. It’s loaded with brands and even more loaded with models, however, VW has thrown their hat in the ring with two models, both are good but the T-Roc fits the segment to a tee.
The golf reference is completely intentional, for whereas the smaller T-Cross is based on the Polo platform, the T-Roc is underpinned by their incredibly popular Golf and not surprisingly, the difference shows. Now I’m not going to do a full comparison to the T-Cross for although they sit in virtually the space they are different animals but I will point out that the Roc’s wheelbase is 30mm greater than the Cross and once panelled and painted the Roc gains an overall mass increase of 246cm (+126mm L x +15mm W x +13mm H) and that’s a lot.
My TSI R-Line 4WD review model came in a rather spicy Turmeric yellow with a contrasting black roof, it’s a standout in the car park and a good option to have. The nose is clearly VW with a prominent badge centrally seated in the three layer grille that sweeps out to meet the LED head and daytime running lights – for my model, both grille and lights were framed in a chrome border. The lower valance has an A-frame style about it and there’s some scuff protection should you venture up a kerb or two (actually it is 4Motion and has some terrain modes – snow, off road and off road individual – so it could venture further).
The T-Roc’s profile shows off some subtle light play with its lines and my model came with 19-inch Suzuka wheels and flared wheel arches framed with black protection and the rear holds a cool shoulder line that includes the LED taillights with the VW badging and T-Roc lettering on the tailgate.
Under the bonnet is a 2L turbo petrol engine (the 2WD variants have a 1.5L) that produces 140kW of power and 320Nm of torque from 1,500rpm. It has modern generative braking and start/stop function that assists in this small SUV having a fuel economy of 6.8L/100km which is pretty darn good for an AWD 4 cylinder 2L.
The interior space (and I mean space) feels uncluttered and VW modern, it boasts 392L of luggage room (that extends to 1,237L when you drop the seats) and even comes with stowage drawers under the front seat. It has an 8-inch Touchscreen infotainment screen with a variety of apps and Apple/Android compatible, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, it’s obviously loaded with VW safety and security measures and with features such as hill start assist, parallel parking assist and lane keep assist – it’s more helpful than Batman’s butler.
As luck would have it, during my time with ‘da Roc, I had to trek around the Bombay area of greater Auckland, (aka the area that Aucklanders feel the world ends). There are some fun driving roads that head away from civilization as we know it and therefore a good place to stretch the small SUV’s legs.
The Roc performed admirably. It’s not a sportscar by any means but the 2L/7-speed DSG combination offers a mature, confident ride, It corners nicely and looks forward to the straights. Wind and road noise was minimal and the steering (and leather clad wheel) felt well-weighted.
Although as I said earlier, it’s 4Motion and has several terrain modes, I didn’t venture ‘off road’, however, I did find gravel and a fair amount of it, the T-Roc didn’t mind one little bit and nor did I.
Back home and on domestic duties, the boot space with its kicker tailgate was a nice feature for the weekly shop and there were plenty of USB ports to ensure no device battery went uncharged.
With their two new small SUVs Volkswagen New Zealand has certainly jumped feet first into the category and both have their place but in my opinion it’s the T-Roc for the win. The additional power and space worked well for me and the more mature ride I feel would be easier on the family should we ever travel further afield.