Car Expert, Editor at 91Wheels
14 Oct 2020
SUVs are the new cool, they say it like that, don't they? Yes, with this rising trend, sales of SUVs in the Indian market are booming and every carmaker is competing with each other to provide the best product. And not just that, carmakers know how price-sensitive Indians are and they do not want to risk it at all. But then you see, the famous German carmaker, Volkswagen bringing in a new SUV, T-Roc, which is priced at Rs 19.99 Lakh. So what makes it special? And how does it drive? Is it worth the money? Or it is just a rich spoilt kid with European advantages? Let's find out in this first drive review of Volkswagen T-Roc.
Is the Volkswagen T-Roc Worth Its Money?
Well, having driven this SUV over the weekend, one thing I can say that this is a flamboyant one and deserves its place when you buy it with a heart and not the money-conscious mind. As they say, Shauk badi cheez hai. So yes, if you are in the market to buy a full-fledged German SUV that provides good safety, excellent build material and a sweet, peppy petrol motor, then this is the one for you.
How does it drive?
I have said this before and will repeat myself again, this is a compact SUV rather than a premium hatchback on steroids. But when you are behind the wheel, it really feels superior and gives you the best of both the worlds. That means driving pleasure as well as the mileage.
The steering feels light at lower speeds which makes it easier to drive in city and while parking in tight spaces. Once you're clocking triple digits speeds or say above 70 km/h you will notice how the steering gives you the high-speed confidence and you are able to cruise normally without having to worry too much about high speed manners. Another thing which I like about the T-Roc is the cornering stability with its swift response and well controlled body rolls.
One interesting feature is of the lane assist which at times gives you confidence but mostly scares you if you aren't too careful. Maybe we Indians are not used to it or call it as a high-class safety feature which Indian roads are not apt for. The basic function of the lane assist system is to keep the car in a particular lane. That means if you have this Switched ON on Indian roads then the steering will force you to keep the vehicle in lane.
So this becomes a risky affair if you are used to driving with one hand and not following a particular lane. You have to hold the steering wheel with both your hands. I had my own fun where I wanted to check if it will work on the translucent lane and to my surprise, it didn't. I mostly had this feature off during the time I had this car.
It is a CBU import and carries all the goodness like its international model. The suspension is slightly on the stiffer side and at lower speeds, sharp bumps will be felt inside the cabin. But those vanish as soon as you put your foot on the throttle and this not so small SUV glides over them.
Paddle shifters really make it a worthy match considering its size. Just press the (- or +) and you are good to take the controls manually. This engine is refined and once you hit that mid-range, it brings a grin to your face. The turbo spools up and there you go. It has no problem reaching the 6,500 rpm mark at all.
Even when you have to overtake the vehicle in front of you at highways and you are driving it on the D7 mode at 90 km/h, one press at the accelerator and it shifts three gears down and at D4 it gives you an intense boost of performance. The system is smart enough to understand the mechanism and you need not take matters in your own hands (I mean through paddle shifters).
But driving aggressively like above definitely takes a toll on the fuel economy and we at 91Wheels do not like that. Yes, with our fuel efficiency runs and bringing you the correct information about the mileage, we drove with a light foot and when the ECO mode on the instrument cluster appears, the car automatically shuts off the two cylinders. Yep, that's possible. It certainly saves up fuel and gives you a better mileage.
One thing that constantly bugged me while driving this SUV or while writing this review was the blind spot. So if you have to park it into tight spaces then you have to be really good at what you do and not scratch the car. Take a test ride and you will know.
Space and Comfort
After enjoying behind the wheel scenes with the T-Roc, I decided to take a back seat experience on how well it packs space on the inside. To my surprise, it doesn't. I mean, it is good for two people but adding one more will add to discomfort only. Also, the space is sufficient and not the best in class. Don't get me wrong, the rear seats are comfortable but then there is shortage of knee-room and headroom in here. The roof has been scooped out but still, tall passengers will definitely complain.
Also, no electrically adjustable front seats. At least if I am paying Rs 19.99 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi, I should be given this basic feature. I really disliked this very thing in the car. I had to adjust the seat manually whenever our camera guy used to take shots and disrupt the seating position.
The boot space is good with 445 litres carrying capacity for the weekend trip. But a little more than that, it will be a problem. Of course, you can fold the rear seats for more space if you are just 2 people on board. It has a good loading target which helped in keeping our camera gears and bags easily.
It gets an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system which has a good touch response and gets modern connectivity features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Volkswagen T-Roc is also equipped with a panoramic sunroof, electronic parking brakes, six airbags, front parking sensors, push-button start, lane assist system, rear disc brakes, digital instrument cluster, dual-zone climate control is some of the features it gets.
Well, as I said above, if you are to buy this SUV for great driving pleasure and that peppy petrol motor, then go for it. If money is not an issue and you are to drive this SUV and take weekend trips, then go for it. It is rich in features and is definitely a looker wherever you go. This isn't quite an SUV for people who have a family.