Walking into a car showroom now feels like walking into Baskin Robbins. A ton of options, all of them very similar. Some are just essence and some are full-blown flavour bombs that explode in your mouth. With cars, its hatchback, sedans, micro/mini/compact/mid/full-size SUV’s. Yes, SUV’s are the flavour of the decade and some provide just the essence while some are the real deal. VW right now has two very good SUV’s and many more are planned.
T-Roc is one such SUV that was available for some time before the order book got full and now there is an indefinite wait. T-ROC is an important product, because, if it is received well, VW could start local production and fight in this competitive segment. How good is it then? We find out as spend some quality time with this SUV which could be the golden ticket for the manufacturer in our country to begin a new inning. Luckily, cars are budget-oriented (unlike ice-cream) so you can narrow down easily after a small taste *ahem* test drive and that is what we did! Let’s find out!
A quintessential VW understated design as always but this is also a compact SUV. Boxy design, raised stance, cladding running all-around, large wheels and with a kink in the C-pillar which is distinct, that makes heads turn on the road. The front is subtle with a three slat grille with a subtle dose of chrome and sleek wrap-around headlamps make the SUV does look quite good. A quirky DRL sitting above the fog lamp makes sure it looked distinct in this segment of cars.
Needless to say, the golden colour on our test car and futuristic rear design with chunky tail-lamps make the SUV look like an import car on our roads. Blackened out roof and ORVM add that bit of sporty touch. Being dangerously tail-gated by premium cars and enthusiast was seen on our four-day test drive of this car in and around the Mumbai city. Hope that answers the question on road presence.
Getting inside the cabin of a VW means you are greeted by high-quality plastics, materials, fabrics, leather and other elements that are used in the cabin. No different in the T-ROC everything is soft to touch, including dashboard and side door panels. Stitching is immaculate and so is the piano finish steering and aluminium finish on the dashboard makes the cabin look rich and sophisticated. Space in the back is as good as its rivals in the knee, leg and shoulder room area. The boot space is extremely well laid out too. The features list is quite extensive in the T-ROC and the overall cabin does look modern, fresh and slightly better than its competitive Korean rivals.
LED daytime running lights, headlamps, LED taillights, dual-tone alloy wheels are part of the exterior feature list. The T-Roc comes to India in a single variant and will be loaded to the gills and it gets a large touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster, dual-zone climate control, Vienna leather seats and a panoramic sunroof. The SUV also comes with a flat-bottom steering wheel and multiple buttons on it. A host of safety tech including six airbags, ABS with EBD, ESC, park distance control, reverse camera, emergency SOS, high-speed alert with a seatbelt reminder and more.
Heat insulating windshield, Green heat-insulated side and rear windows, keyless entry, start-stop button, Heated exterior mirrors, Front fog lamp with cornering function, Tyre pressure monitoring system, Height adjustable luggage compartment floor, automatic wipers and lights are on offer along with many other titbits. Cruise control and power seats are surprisingly missing from this SUV. However, it does get heated seats which should help the northern Indian market consumers happy.
Volkswagen T-Roc has a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol TSI engine that makes 148 bhp and 240 Nm of peak torque. The motor is paired with only the 7-speed DSG automatic transmission as standard with power sent to the front wheels. There is no AWD for now. The motor is smooth, refined and torquey throughout the rev range. This makes the T-ROC very easy to drive in the city and highway. Ample driveability is on offer in the city and lot of mid-range and top-end power means on the expressway even if four onboard, this SUV has the power to pull. Performance while driving solo is excellent and comparable to diesel as the turbo petrol produces torque which is quite high and similar in delivery to the oil-burner.
The gearbox is the usual DSG which does hesitate a bit at slow speeds but the moment it shifts from second to third, everything smoothness out after that. The slight issue at low speeds is barely noticeable. It gave us 13 km/l in our driving from Mumbai to Lonavala and back. 10 km/l in the city has too achieved. The reasons for such higher numbers is cylinder deactivation which cuts of two-cylinders out of the four to make sure it saves fuel. The transition is smooth too and you barely will notice until unless you really keen on doing so. The engine and the car have fantastically low NVH at all speeds which makes driving this car over long distances quite comfortable.
Steering is light and precise for everyday duties and on the highway, it weighs up well enough to inspire confidence. Feedback is good and this what the T-ROC great SUV to drive in its class. It is easily the best handling SUV in its class and no one comes close to the sheer pleasure of Golf Hatchback based SUV. This SUV has the tighest body control, fantastic grip from the tyres mechanically which is even amplified thanks to Michelin Pilot Sport tyres slapped on 17-inch wheels.
Brakes are good and the pedal is a bit long because it has regenerative braking. Stability on the given road at any given speed is fantastic and ride quality is compliant enough at low speeds to keep you comfortable on our roads. The ride, in short, is spectacular. A high riding Golf hatchback is exactly what is needed for our roads and this makes sure that you have a ball of a time driving on our roads irrespective of any condition of the road.
2020 Volkswagen T-Roc Petrol Review, Verdict
Volkswagen T-Roc makes sense if you are into driving and want something unique in this segment. It may never sell as its rivals on a monthly basis even if it comes back as a locally produced car because beauty is in the eye of the beholder and herd instinct is what most people live with. The T-ROC, sure does lack some features at this price but it makes up for that ‘import car’ look, fantastic driving experience, solid build and high-quality interior. With VW after-sales packages getting attractive, we think this is the SUV to have in this segment.
2020 Volkswagen T-Roc Petrol India Review, First Drive