What is it like to drive?
VW could have just plumbed all the performance Golf parts into its higher-riding sibling and hoped for the best, but it really has spent some quality time on the T-Roc. Much of that time was apparently spent at the Nürburgring; although R boss Jost Capito assures us that the B-roads around the circuit had just as much bearing on its development.
We’ll start with what hasn’t changed much – that engine. As you know from our Golf R experiences, it’s a belter. Just shy of 300bhp is plenty in a compact SUV that weighs 1,575kg, and maximum torque is available from 2,000rpm so momentum is relatively easy to maintain, even on a windy stretch of road. If you do fancy working those shift paddles, though, the gearbox is smoother than some rival offerings.
The presence of launch control means 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds, and it’ll top out at 155mph – that’s not electronically limited as is the case with the hatch, the extra weight and slightly shorter gearing mean it’s all you’ll get.
On the previously mentioned windy road, the steering is direct and the 4WD system will keep the T-Roc R remarkably stable – especially given that more of the weight lives higher up than in the hatch or estate. You get the sense it’s tuned to be slightly more sensible than the Golf, though; that more of the torque is heading to the front wheels more of the time. Perhaps that reflects the audience that the T-Roc is aimed at.
Perhaps Volkswagen’s biggest achievement here is the (optional) adaptive damping. In Comfort mode the T-Roc R is manageable in town. It’s not flawless, but even with 19-inch wheels the ride isn’t backbreaking. Moving into Normal (which Capito says is essentially a sport mode) and Race modes, the suspension firms up and body roll is kept to a minimum. It even tempts you to attack a few hairpins. That’s not something we’d expected to admit about a crossover, but the presence of chunky brakes from the Golf R Performance Pack certainly helps.
Would this all be enough to tempt you from a Golf R? Probably not, but the engineering feat is genuinely impressive.