Powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, the T-Roc R peaks at 300PS at 5,000rpm and a chunky 400Nm of torque as low as 2,000rpm. Activate race mode (a relic of the Golf R) and launch control, deactivate ESC and put your foot down and the throttle response is instantaneous, with 0-62mph taking just 4.8 seconds and a limited top speed of 155mph. It feels far faster than this, however, and incredibly impressive for a 1.6-tonne, souped up SUV. Additional modes of Snow and Off-road are available too, giving the T-Roc R a broad breadth of usability.
The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is smooth and predictable, although as is often the case, the flappy paddles make things far more enjoyable. Power is sent primarily to the front wheels, and the rears only when required, as per VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. And while shifting down manually makes the sports exhaust pop delightfully, otherwise it sounds a little underwhelming. An Akrapovič upgrade is available, for an eye-watering £3,000.
Upgraded brakes over a normal T-Roc – that’s disc and callipers – both shave weight (to the tune of 2kg) and put in a good stint at stopping. However, if you’re under any illusion of the size of the car upon acceleration, the brakes are a firm reminder that it’s not quite a slimline sportscar.
The uniquely tuned variable ratio steering is sharp and responsive, becoming more stable as speed increases. Bespoke running gear, including an upgraded aluminium sub frame, springs and dampers, give the T-Roc R a far stiffer and sportier ride, lowering it by 20mm. As a result, it’s firm, sharp and responsive, gripping to the road and experiencing minimal body roll. However, this tight stance can catch you unawares on speed bumps or deep potholes. Upgrade to Volkswagen’s Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) and make things even more exciting for an extra £695.