Is the VW T-Roc R fast?

It was the niche class we didn’t know we needed – the high-performance compact SUV.

But like Netflix and pineapple on pizza, we now have SUVs — like the new Volkswagen T-Roc R — that we just can’t seem to live without.

A more desirable and physical version of the hot VW Golf R, the T-Roc R shares a four-cylinder hatchback engine, a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and an all-wheel drive system.

At 221 kW/400 Nm, it’s down 14 kW in the shape of a Golf R, and it doesn’t have the torque-absorbing angle-steering rear differential.

But it’s still very fast. Hundred in 4.9 seconds fast, in fact: supercar territory a few decades ago. Going into the sub-five in a semi-reasonably small family SUV is already progress.

This high-performance crossover is also the cheapest way to get the right R badge for your Volkswagen. At $59,300 before the road, it’s $6,690 less than the Golf R and $9,690 under the Golf R Wagon and Tiguan R. In these inflated times, this seems like a good value.

In the face of ever-increasing opposition, the price also seems right. The Hyundai Kona Premium 206 kW/392 Nm ($52,200) is cheaper but slower, less luxurious and front-wheel drive.

The new Baby Cupra Formentor VZx ($61,990) with 228 kW / 400 Nm is a compelling contender, while more expensive prestige options include the 221 kW / 400 Nm Audi SQ2 ($ 66,900) and 225 kW / 450 Nm BMW X2 M35i ($75,500).

Speaking of prestige, the cabin of the T-Roc R isn’t shy of luxury.

Soft nappa leather coats Heated front sport seats (power for the driver), a chunky flat-bottom steering wheel sits in front of a sharp, well-customizable 10.25-inch digital display, while the 9.2-inch infotainment screen is powered by wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto .

You get keyless check-in, wireless phone charging, navigation, four USB-C ports, blue ambient lighting, an automatic tailgate and an impressive array of driver-assist goodies, including self-parking.

The top of the dashboard is decent soft plastic, but the hard plastic of the door surfaces and door handles spoil the side.

If you choose the Champion Lapiz blue body color, an additional $250 will buy Lapiz matte studs for the center console, doors, and dash. I would do that. It adds color to a very black cabin.

A touch-sensitive panel controls the climate – not as good as the convenient buttons, but a huge improvement over VW Golfs.

The driving position is pleasantly elevated despite the lower R ride than the regular T-Rocs, and the rear seats have good legroom and headroom, but are quite upright. The shoe swallows a few extra shopping bags that golf swallows, too.

It’s an SUV that looks like it’s begging to drive fast. It’s a naughty T-Roc with 19-inch dark Estoril alloys, LED matrix headlights and a grille stripe illuminated with the R logo. Quad exhaust outlets, a rear spoiler and a gloss black rear diffuser make the rump look grumpy.

Shoot the four turbos and it will roar of joy. But even in race mode, there’s no theater of noise you’d expect. A few pops and barbels will add to the display.

This is basically the only complaint. The T-Roc R is a car full of fun, its muscular engine shreds an SUV combined with a tsunami of torque. The DSG gearbox flies through gears, with second and third gears—high revs and turbo in their happy place—providing an impressive boost.

With all-wheel drive and adaptive chassis control, the T-Roc makes a good impression of a hot hatch with a low center of gravity in the corners. Rolling the body is nothing, and the weighty and communicative steering makes it easy to pick the right line through a bend, as it refuses to become loose.

Personally, I prefer the low-end nature of the Golf R or Golf R Wagon, but it is the higher T-Roc that runs these guns closely.

The race mode and clever chassis mean the bumps absorb surprisingly well, but this is a car that doesn’t like potholes or choppy city streets.

Comfort mode improves city life quite a bit, but the T-Roc R should only be on your radar if you’re planning a lot of country blasting. City broadcasters should try the more user-friendly (and $14,000) T-Roc 140 R-Line instead.

The twisty test road punished the economy with a 13l/100km return, although I’ve seen 9l/100km everywhere else. Be warned, the R drink of choice is 98RON.

These costs and slightly higher service costs are accepted when choosing the R – a luxurious, somewhat practical, high-end performance game with amazing capabilities.

I usually direct buyers to the more practical Golf R Wagon, but the T-Roc R’s talents and cheaper entry price change things.

The $54,300 Grid Edition with less tech, driver assistance, and premium land in December makes the T-Roc’s case even stronger.

judgment

A cracking performance package at an unexpectedly good price. A performance compact SUV is probably not a bad idea.

four stars

VOLKSWAGEN T-ROC R VITALS

price $59,300 before driving on the roads

engine 221 kW / 400 Nm 2.0 L 4-Cylinder Petrol Turbo

Warranty Service 5 years / unlimited km; $2800 five-year paid service plan

safety 6 Airbags, AEB with Pedestrian Display, Radar Cruise Control, Lane Assist and Departure Warning, Side Assist with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Rear Camera, Self Parking, Front and Rear Sensors

Third 8.3L/100km

additional space saver

Luggage 392L/1237L

Originally published as Volkswagen enters a new fast car category with the T-Roc R.

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