Goodwood Test: 2021 Volkswagen T-Roc R Review
One late summer Sunday afternoon, I put in a handful of laps at Goodwood Circuit, turning the skinny wheels of my well-loved Specialized during one of the dedicated cycling sessions. Afterwards, sweaty, exhilarated and exhausted, I returned to the recently arrived T-Roc R, ready for a steady drive home. That couldn’t be further from the truth, with the sporty SUV testament to the fact that adrenaline didn’t need to end on track.
The flagship of the T-Roc range, the T-Roc R is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, with a four-pot 2.0-litre turbocharged unit putting 300PS (220kW) and 400Nm (296lb ft) of torque to all four wheels via a seven-speed double-clutch transmission. It perfectly transgresses the territory between a practical, capacious car and something a little sexy.
- Brilliant fun to drive
- Surprisingly large luggage capacity
- Cool styling
We don't like
- Sports exhaust is underwhelming
- Firm ride can take you by surprise
- Not very fuel efficient
There’s no confusing this T-Roc as anything other than a member of the R family, with performance ingrained in its bespoke bodywork. Widened wheel arches, bumpers, quad-exhausts, 19-inch alloys and a lowered stance give it a sporty appeal, while still remaining true to the T Roc dimensions. A unique colour of Lapiz Blue further distinguishes it from its suburban siblings.
Performance and Handling
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.
If I were to tell you about a vehicle in which I could fit two six-foot male housemates and their bicycles, you would assume I was referring to a van or at the very least, a long wheelbase estate. But no! It was the conveniently blue T-Roc Tardis where I achieved such a feat, collecting two mile-weary friends one day in late summer and folding their bicycles and sundry in the 392-litre luggage space. Not bad for a small, sporty SUV.
The cabin itself is surprisingly comfortable, with quality materials throughout and well-bolstered seats on the softer side of firm.
Technology and Features
The T-Roc R is everything you’ll probably want from an hot SUV – it’s fast, cool and capacious. If you want something that can double as a school run chariot and a weekend weapon, then this is a strong contender.
With a recommended on the road price of £40,735, it’s a far cry from the entry-level T-Roc, which weighs in at £21,440. But in terms of competition, it lines up against two of Volkswagen Group’s other sporty SUVs – the Audi SQ2 and Cupra Ateca – and both are ever so slightly cheaper.
This score is an average based on aggregated reviews from trusted and verified sources.
|Engine||2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder|
|Power||300PS (220kW) @ 5,000rpm|
|Torque||400Nm (296lb ft) @ 2,000rpm-5,200rpm|
|Transmission||Seven-speed automatic, all-wheel-drive|
|Price||£40,735 (£47,844.19 as tested)|
Reviewed by Laura Thomson