VW crossover R-Line adds flair, but is costly at just under €40,000
I think I will have you wondering why I’m starting this review with a comment on the boot. I don’t usually begin straight away about the merits or otherwise of the deep recesses of the rear. Indeed I don’t think I ever have.
But such is the size and depth of the one in the latest Volkswagen T-Roc crossover that I consider it worth prime mention. I don’t know why I didn’t notice before, to be honest, because I’ve driven several versions over the years.
It is massive considering the dimensions of the car itself. But – and I do say this quite often – there is a price to pay and it is that you don’t get a spare wheel. Yet even allowing for having a slim spare, I still calculate there would be impressive space left over.
Certainly, the T-Roc is about much more than its boot space, but it is quite a start – and a good one into the bargain.
There is another price to pay too I think, although it is less dramatic. You don’t get as much rear-seat room as might have been possible if the designers didn’t get their way and pay extra attention to carving out a nice-looking SUV shape along the flanks.
Lack of another few inches for the larger-bodied among us in the back remains one of the key criticisms. Yet it is probably one of the few real drawbacks of the popular mid-size crossover. And, having said that, I am also often reminded of the fact that, most likely, it will be used by smaller frames – as in younger children and adults. So it isn’t a really big deal.
It obviously hasn’t done any harm to the public perception of the car which has built a real name for itself since its launch some years back.
And there is the possibility that the car would not have looked as well as it does if they shortened the rear-side flanks. (The funny thing is that the smaller T-Cross has better rear-seat room: such are the vagaries of car design.)
Anyway, the car I had on test was the R-Line Plus version. It is supposed to embody a bit of sportiness inside and out and it is kitted accordingly.
It has got a neat cabin with clean-cut lines, good all-round space (even with the rear-space drawback); there are comfortable seats, the odd flash of design flair but it is very much bright Volkswagen in the manner by which it is laid out.
The slide buttons for the likes of ventilation are similar to the Golf but didn’t seem altogether as awkward and difficult to get to and operate. The infotainment system worked well and wasn’t fussy.
So, in typical Volkswagen fashion there is nothing out of the ordinary, no nasty surprises and everything is more or less where you expect it to be on a car of this size coming from the German giant.
I was surprised, however, when checking the prices that this test version costs €37,725.
It is a shocking lot of money for what is by no means a large car, regardless of how well it is equipped or, for that matter, how well it looks.
Add in the guts of another €1,000 for delivery and you are nudging €40,000 for it.
The thing is, really, that the market can take that sort of price because there is huge demand, firstly for a new car, and secondly for a stylish, upright family crossover.
Having said that, I do get criticised for driving cars that are outside the reach of most people.
Most of that criticism comes about reviews of high-flying electric Mercs, Beemers or Audis, but many people also regard anything over the €30,000 mark as being out of their reach.
Sad to say that you won’t get a lot of car for that money any more. In its way that says a lot about the earning power of the haves and have nots in our society.
So many cars cost €45,000 to €55,000 that much of the focus is taken off the lower-priced ones.
Back to the road test. My review car had a 6spd manual gearbox which slotted well with the excellent little 3cyl one-litre petrol engine. It has been a success from the day it was launched and is used under the bonnet of so many cars from the Volkswagen group.
It suited the T-Roc down to the ground with plenty of mid-gear pull around town and a nice turn of foot on the open roads, though some ripple effect came through on a few roads.
All-in-all it was a sprightly, smart number that pitches well for your money: because it has SUV looks but drives particularly well.
It needs to, considering the likes of the Audi Q2, Mercedes GLA and BMW X2 are numbered amongst its rivals.
Would I buy it? Yes for the solid sporty nature and large boot. But it is pricey.
Volkswagen T-Roc R-Line plus one-litre TSi 110hp, 999cc, 6spd manual gearbox. Entry price €37,725, delivery €950.
Standard spec: R-Line sports comfort seats with lumbar support, wireless app, 8in infotainment system display, Park Assist, rear view camera, sensors front and rear, Digital cockpit Pro, two USB C ports front and back, panoramic sunroof, voice control, adaptive cruise control, sports suspension, dynamic sports steering, driving modes, spread of driver and safety assists.