VW T Roc R 2020 Doubling Down.

Interesting… tell me more!

The T-Roc R uses the same 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit and rides on the MQB A platform. Power from that is 296bhp, the same as the WLTP homologated version of Golf R’s engine, mated, like its hatchback relation, exclusively to a DSG automatic transmission and 4Motion all-wheel drive. It can sprint to 62mph in under five seconds and will do 155mph.

The suspension is a mix of Golf and T-Roc with the front sub frame from the GTI, a 20mm drop in ride height on springs around 20% firmer, it rides on 19-inch wheels with 235/40 R19 tyres. Passive dampers are standard (continuously adaptive ones under VW’s Dynamic Chassis Control tag are optional), as are powerful brakes from the Golf R Performance Pack

It certainly looks the part…

Doesn’t it just, but I’d argue it’s lost some of the T-Roc’s funky charm in order to look more. The squircle LED DRLs of the regular car, for example, have been deleted to make room for a Joker face-like lower front grille arrangement. It also wouldn’t be a performance car without a fatter spoiler to improve downforce at high speed and four exhaust pipes.

Inside, for the most part the T-Roc R has the same issues as a regular one, namely the cockpit is surprisingly plasticky for what you come to expect from VW. The coloured insert happily injects a bit of life (provided you pick it), but it looks like it’s been painted by a seven-year-old with a spray can. Overall, it’s one of the T-Roc R’s biggest disappointments; you get in a Mk7.5 Golf and you’re still pleased by the quality. This far less so.

You mentioned an expensive exhaust?

I did. It’s got a deep, purposeful note that belies the relatively ordinary engine powering it. There’s still some synthetic sound piped into the interior, switching between the drive modes intensifying that. It is muted in Eco and Comfort, being just-about-noticeable in Normal and fully active in Race; these modes, as ever, altering the engine, transmission, steering and, with optional DCC dampers, chassis responses accordingly.

Without said expensive exhaust and in Race mode, there’s still the odd satisfying fruity parp on gearshifts, enough to still satisfy, but the noise is digitally enhanced in the cockpit. That’s a shame, as it masks the less pronounced but still welcome efforts from the standard exhaust.

And, when you’re not scaring the local populace?

We’re busy flooring it. This is a wicked fast machine, due mostly to that formidable EA888 engine. It’s genuinely one of the most flexible performance car engines out there, and the fact a small SUV can do a sub-five-second launch sprint still boggles the mind. Long may it continue to reign.

It does sound gruffer than in the Golf, but no less potent – so much so that you can happily just leave it in the midrange and short-shift when wanting to make pronounced progress. Using the steering-mounted DSG paddles to shift is satisfying, too – the paddles themselves are nothing special, but the ‘box’s responses to downshifts is sharp.

It’s an SUV

You think it’s going to be porky to drive fast? Wrong. Yes, you sit higher up but that’s about the only difference. One other key area Capito and his team worked on was roll control, not least to stop the rollover protection sensors from killing the fun. The work paid off, as the T-Roc manages to eliminate any real sense of roll without it feeling alien, like those cars with 48v active anti-roll systems.

Larger standard wheels and a firmer springs naturally mean a stiffer ride than your average pedestrian T-Roc, but it’s far from unmanageable or ruinously uncomfortable. Jiggly around town in the firmer drive modes is expected from a hot hatch/SUV thing and it pays huge dividends when setting a new split time on your favourite back road.

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