Volkswagen T-Roc R review: Golf roots paying off

An SUV version of the Golf R with few compromises

Volkswagen T-Roc R

If you are a remotely regular reader of these pages, you’ll know I’m not a great admirer of so-called crossover SUVs. And turning a crossover SUV into a fast crossover SUV no more addresses its issues than electing a leader of the Labour Party who holds exactly the same views as the former leader of the Labour Party, but is a bit lighter on his or her feet.

But I must report as I find, and I find that the hot VW crossover that rejoices in the title T-Roc R, is actually not merely very capable, it’s actually quite likeable, too. It feels light and compact, its 296bhp, two-litre engine is not only powerful but sonorous also, its double-clutch gearbox is excellent and its handling a model of engaging propriety that every other maker of cars in this class would be well advised to study.

Then again, how surprised should we really be? What you’re actually looking at is a re-skinned and slightly elevated VW Golf R which is now, and has been for some considerable time, the best fast hatchback you can buy. But I still admire the team that turned it into the T-Roc R for keeping the weight gain to just 50kg.

Less impressive is that many of the soft-touch materials that come in even a mid-range Golf have been replaced by hard, scratchy plastic. For a car costing nearly £40,000, it’s not good enough. But the rest is fine, just still not as good as the Golf R.

Volkswagen T-Roc R
Price £38,450
Engine 2.0-litres, 4 cylinders
Power 296bhp at 5300rpm
Weight 1575kg
Power to weight 188bhp per tonne
Transmission seven-speed double clutch, four-wheel drive 0-60mph 4.8sec
Top speed 155mph
Economy 33.6mpg
CO₂ 176g/km
Verdict Quality aside, a driveable SUV