Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Monday 25th September


What is it like to drive?

The T-Roc Cabriolet is a porker. The lightest model (equipped with the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine and a manual gearbox) weighs 1,487kg. Now, in a world of Cayennes and Range Rovers that doesn’t look too bad, but we’re talking about a soft-top hatchback that weighs in almost 200kg heavier than its five-door hard-top cousin. Though the 999cc, 113bhp engine does sterling service in smaller cars like VW’s own Polo, it feels a little strained in the behemoth Cabrio.

So, better to stick with the 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo engine, even though this increases mass to the wrong side of 1.5 tonnes. The larger motor can be paired with the seven-speed DSG auto gearbox, which fits the T-Roc Cabrio’s character best – this isn’t a sports car, after all. It’s happiest being an elbows on the door top, thumb at 3 o’clock upon the steering wheel cruiser.

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Presumably it's not quick, then?

Thus equipped, the T-Roc Cabrio gets from 0-62mph in a lazy 9.6 seconds. Even with the twin-clutch gearbox doing its best never to interrupt the flow of 148bhp to the front wheels, it’s sluggish. The engine sounds pretty unhappy about straining to lug along all that extra reinforcement and folding roof mechanism which, it has to be said, is quick and quiet as it performs can-opener duty.

Adding girders and horse chestnut trees to the chassis has done a better job than we’d expected of stopping the T-Roc sans roof splitting in half. Yes, there’s tell-tale quiver from the rear view mirror, but the car doesn’t creak or shimmy as you rumble along. We even took it off-road and didn’t hear any grumbles from the chassis. What’s less successful is the reinforcement of the steering column: the wheel vibrates in your hand on a pockmarked road as if the lane departure alert has gone haywire.

Our test car was a top-of-the-range T-Roc Cabriolet R-Line with £975 of optional adaptive suspension. The marriage of multi-mode dampers and (optional) 19-inch rims wasn’t a happy one: the suspension is too firm in Sport mode, assuming the body control of a crème brulee: initially a bit crunchy, but wallowy underneath. 

It’s a proper blancmange in Comfort mode, and frankly if you’re going to spend all your time in the middle ‘Normal’ setting, there’s no point in spending extra on clever suspension. The best choice you can make when speccing one of these (besides slapping yourself about the face and buying a lightly used Audi A3 Cabriolet instead) is to go for the smaller wheels and go for standard ‘Style’ spec, to help out the unsettled ride and dispel any notions this is a sporty car.

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What's it like with the roof down?

Because the car’s glass area is so deep, you’re well insulated from the draught with the roof down: there’s just a pleasant ruffling of the hair. VW offers a £315 accessory wind deflector, but you won’t miss not ticking that box.

The roof doesn’t flap about when raised, but the T-Roc suffers for tyre roar on the motorway. If you’re upgrading from the old Beetle Cabrio, expect a similar sort of character – not the best manners VW can manage, but good enough for the car’s intended role of chief moocher-about-town.

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