With a sharpened exterior design, enhanced technical, safety and infotainment features and a refined interior, much has been done to VW’s ‘facelifted’ compact SUV, the T-Roc. But of NZ’s three new options (Life, R-Line and R) it’s the introduction of the ‘Roc’ into their R performance segment that’s really piqued our interest – lucky for us, VW NZ let us find out more.
Sitting snugly between the Golf and Tiguan R’s, the T-Roc R has been launched to complete the brand’s current trio of performance offerings, and boy does it. Under the bonnet lies a turbocharged 2L TSI that produces 221kW of power and 400Nm of torque, numbers that are made even more impressive as this racey ‘Roc weighs under 1,500kgs, meaning that 0-100km/h happens in a mouthwatering 4.6 seconds!
My review model came in Lapiz blue which is the hero colour for the R range and rightly so, it’s a standout hue (whatever the weather) and contrasts well with the sportscar’s chrome and black accents.
Admittedly, much of the ‘R’ trimmings and badging can be found on the T-Roc R-Line, but the thoroughbred R comes with IQ matrix LED lights, an extended lightbar across the R specific grille, 19-inch Estoril feet and in my case, the optional Akrapovic sport exhaust for additional crackle and pop fun.
Behind the scenes, three other important additions separate the ‘Line’ from the ‘R’, and they are the 7-Speed DSG gearbox (with launch control), Multi-link rear suspension and by no means least, a 4Motion AWD system that’s also found in the Tiguan R (sorry, no Golf R drift mode though).
Inside, the T-Roc R’s cabin is awash with sportiness. R style blue stitching can be found on the sports seats and door cards, with R badging on the side skirts, floor mats, on the seats, plus the sports steering wheel comes with both blue stitching, R badging AND an R button, which I’ll get to in a moment.
It’s a very usable cabin, with enough cubby holes for family use and a wireless charging for your phone. The infotainment comes via a 9.2-inch touchscreen and the instrument cluster is their ultra-adaptable digital cockpit.
The gear lever is a lever rather than the stubby switch in the Golf (plus you have paddles to play with) and the surround boasts 4Motion with a mode and terrain dial that allows you to drive on everything from snow and ice, to off-road expert with DCC (dynamic chassis control) that are linked to its active dampers.
My near week with the new T-Roc R included both the usual family chores and plenty of alone time driving. In terms of the former, our compact family of three fitted in perfectly with the T-Roc’s size and capability. On paper it’s a five seater but four is more where it sits (certainly for long drive comfort), with access to the rear requiring a bit of a duck. The driver’s seat is electronically adjustable while both front seats are heated and their big bolsters come in very handy when stretching the SUV’s legs on the open road.
Even in comfort the ride is firm, and there is a fair amount of road noise on NZ’s open pore tarmac, however, personally I want my performance vehicle to air towards the more rigid, particularly in the corners.
So ‘family time’ in the new T-Roc R is fine, good in fact, but sneaking out to grab some one on one time is better. Launch control can be found with ‘Race’ mode on and traction off (then full down on both brake and accelerator before lift off) and I can confirm that 0-100km/h is more than achievable.
Race mode itself can be found at the turn of a dial or via the shortcut blue ‘R’ on the steering wheel. In all honesty I spent most of my time in Race mode (even with the family onboard) as the entire vehicle feels more taut, the progressive steering feels heavier the faster you go, and the (rev and downshift induced) pops from the Akrapovic, never, ever gets old.
The new T-Roc R is fast, very fast, but it handles in a way that a compact SUV shouldn’t. The steering is point and shoot and the seats ensure you’re not slopping around as it races around bends. The 2L heart in the ‘Roc’s lighter frame means that the power to weight ratio is high and its stoic road presence and accomplished 4Motion compels you to exploit every last kW/kg.
It may be the last to join the new R trio, but the new T-Roc R is well worth the wait. Fun driving for you and practical enough to drag the family around when required, it’s next level performance. Trust us, this is one racy Roc.