Are you sick of being bored to death by SUVs? Volkswagen is hoping to buck that trend with the Golf-based T-Roc that is hitting Australian dealers early next year.
The 2020 Volkswagen T-Roc aims to bridge the gap between the entry-level T-Cross SUV and the full-blown kids and dog Tiguan.
Sharing a platform with the Golf, the T-Roc is around 250mm shorter than the Tiguan, but still feels like it has presence in person. With a wider range of colours being made available, plus the option of an offset-coloured roof, the Australian R-Line-only specification will appeal to those that want to stand out.
Expected to lob locally around March next year, we will get a single drivetrain and specification.
Powering the Australian T-Roc 140TSI R-Line will be a de-tuned version of the Golf GTI engine. It's a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine that produces 140kW of power and 320Nm of torque mated to an all-wheel-drive system and a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
It sprints from 0–100km/h in 7.2 seconds and consumes a combined 6.7 litres of fuel per 100km.
While pricing is yet to be announced, we know that given we are only getting a higher specified all-wheel-drive version, it is expected to cost around $40,000 by the time it's on the road.
But, this pricing will come with an impressive array of equipment. Standard to the T-Roc will be an 8.0-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and wireless phone charging.
Also available (although not confirmed as standard just yet) will be an active information display ahead of the driver that eliminates analogue gauges in lieu of a full digital screen. Likewise, a head-up display that offers speed and navigation information.
The tech is simple and easy to use. It's nicely presented as well, but one downside worth calling out is that navigation maps can only be displayed on one screen at a time. It appears there isn't enough processing power to allow both screens to display map data concurrently.
Safety will be a top priority with the T-Roc already achieving a five-star Euro NCAP rating, which is likely to translate to a five-star ANCAP rating.
In addition to a suite of airbags, the T-Roc will come with autonomous emergency braking (low and high speed), lane-keeping assistant, front and rear parking sensors, reverse-view camera and rear cross-traffic alert.
Inside the cabin, there's a premium feel to the package, but just like the T-Cross it's a little let down by some scratchy plastic surfaces, which is strange given it shares the MQB platform with the Golf.
With that said, it feels roomy inside with enough storage for odds and ends, along with decent leg and head room in the second row for both adults and children. It's pleasing to see USB ports littered throughout the cabin, along with rear air vents for second-row occupants.
Unlike the T-Cross, which has a sliding second row, the T-Roc's second row is locked into position. That means cargo capacity comes in at 445L with the second row in place or 1290L with the second row folded flat.
We had the chance to drive the T-Roc through cobbled city streets and along a faster stretch of Autobahn, where it was able to stretch its legs and prove itself at higher speeds.
In and around the city, we were impressed with a well-sorted ride that was softly damped, but didn't let undulations or close-set corrugations get the better of it.
Even on bigger wheels, it felt very comfortable and offered plenty of feel through the steering wheel. We found the dual-clutch transmission to be a little fussy at low speeds, especially when on a hill or in between the stop/start system turning on or off. It wasn't an issue as speed increased, working well with the four-cylinder engine to extract the most from its torque band.
On the Autobahn it drove smoothly and had enough punch to get in and out of slots in the traffic. Even on derestricted sections it happily sat north of 150km/h and didn't feel uncomfortable or out of its depth.
It's funny because in Australia where this car is never likely to see anything more than 110km/h, it's built to be capable of travelling close to 200km/h, which means it has a beefy windscreen wiper and brakes capable of stopping from those speeds. It's funny how these things go unappreciated from consumers.
Despite not getting much of a chance to hunt for corners, the front-biased all-wheel-drive system copes well with shuffling torque to deal with traction loss on the front axle. It's not going to set the world on fire if it encounters a mountain pass, but it's still engaging to drive.
Visibility out of the cabin, both front and rear, is excellent, with a semi-autonomous parking feature that helps slot the car into tight parking spaces with ease.
While Volkswagen is incredibly late to the small-SUV party, next year will see the brand potentially pushing quickly ahead in terms of sales given how popular the segment is in Australia.
The T-Roc will be backed by a five-year warranty and Volkswagen's new prepaid service plans, which should make it a good buying proposition.