The Volkswagen T-Roc competes in the European J segment for compact SUVs and sits above the T-Cross and below the Tiguan. Although these models share the same structural platform, they each have a completely independent body and interior layout. Continuing just-auto/AIC's review of interior design and technology trends, we take a closer look inside this offering for a busy and fast-growing segment.

Launched in October 2017, the T-Roc is manufactured at VW's Setúbal plant near Lisbon in Portugal, alongside the Sharan and SEAT Alhambra. The retail/fleet split for the T-Roc in the UK is 56%/44%. Its rivals include the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar and Mini Countryman.  

Size-wise, the T-Roc measures 4,234 mm long (252 mm shorter than the Tiguan), and has a 2,590 mm wheelbase. The SUV's width is 1,819 mm (excluding door mirrors), and its height is 1,573 mm. For comparison, the current Golf (Mk 7) measures 4,255 mm long, 1,799 mm wide (excluding mirrors), 1,452 mm high, and has a wheelbase of 2,637 mm.

Six trim levels are offered, with two body styles available, ranging from entry-level S trim to the T-Roc R. The latter joined the line-up in late 2019, and a cabriolet version arrived last March.

The spec sheet of the top-sec R-Line included a long list of standard equipment, from clever safety technology to 19-inch alloys. All R-Lines come with dual-zone air conditioning, stop-start function, automatic dimming interior rearview mirror, power windows, power-folding wing mirrors incorporating puddle lights, heated windscreen washer jets and rain-sensing wipers.

The cockpit is jam-packed with the latest technology set out logically thereby making it easy to find your way around.

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A hard plastic dark finish is featured on the dashboard, co-ordinating with the trim of the seats. These colour accents are repeated in the door trim. The surround of the centre console shares the same colour as the accents found on the dash. Integrated here, over three horizontal levels, are various car functions (start/stop system, ESC, hazard warning lights button, park assist functions) as well as the climate control functions and seat heating.

Directly beneath the climate control panel is the storage box for smartphones with two USB ports and an inductive wireless charging pad. Located on the centre console behind the gear knob in the all-wheel drive version is the multifunction dial for VW's 4MOTION Active Control.

Other neat interior touches in the R-Line include aluminium-look pedals and door sill protectors, leather trimmed steering wheel with R-Line logo, 'shadow steel' decorative inserts in the dash and door panels, adjustable cup holder in the back and heated front cloth sports seats.

By virtue of its MQB underpinnings, the T-Roc features a so-called Active Info Display that will be familiar to drivers of Passat, Tiguan and Golf. This replaces the conventional analogue instrument cluster behind the steering wheel. Using a button on the steering wheel, the driver can switch between three layouts and customise the display to suit their preference. Other steering wheel buttons allow you to operate the car's audio system and sat-nav while keeping both hands on the wheel.

The tablet-style eight-inch touchscreen sat-nav is app-like in appearance and more responsive than we have found elsewhere.

Another welcome option fitted on the R-Line is a 'beats' soundtrack, including an eight channel digital amplifier, subwoofer, 400 watt output and six speakers.

Moving to the rear, luggage space in the practical, square shape boot provides 445 litres. When the 60/40 split rear seat backrests are flipped forward, this liberates 1,290 litres of luggage space.

At 870 mm wide and 1,364 mm long, the optional panoramic tilting/sliding sunroof – consisting of two glass panels – is among the largest in the market segment.

Advanced driver assistance systems

In terms of advanced driver assistance technologies, the T-Roc ticks a lot of boxes. It incorporates adaptive cruise control, lane assist and traffic jam assist. The latter uses ACC and lane assist to enable stop-and-go driving in a traffic jam. In heavy traffic at driving speeds up to 37 mph the system responds to other vehicles and autonomously handles steering, accelerating and braking. When traffic comes to a standstill, it also brakes the vehicle to a stop and can drive off again within a predefined time interval. In contrast to pure ACC, traffic jam assist uses a camera behind the windscreen to detect lane markings. This enables the vehicle to be kept in the lane via lane assist.

The T-Roc also offers front assist (radar controlled distance monitoring and city emergence braking system), and predictive pedestrian protection, rear traffic alert, park assist, blind spot monitor and emergency assist. The latter monitors driver activity such as use of the accelerator pedal, brakes and steering. It helps, within system limits, to prevent accidents and reduce the potential consequences of an accident if the driver is incapacitated for health reasons. If the driver fails to respond, the system prompts them to correct the steering by means of repeated brake jolts and the brakes are automatically applied. In this process, ACC monitors the distance to traffic ahead, while lane assist ensures that the vehicle stays within its lane. Emergency assist alerts other road users to an issue via the hazard warning lights and with gentle steering movements to sway the car within its lane and safely slows the vehicle down – all the way to a standstill.

On the road

The 1.5-litre petrol unit paired with a seven-speed automatic gearbox returned 43.7 mpg, mostly along smart motorways, compared to the headline figure of 43.9 mpg combined. While it isn't particularly quick off the mark, it still manages to deliver power smoothly. It is a comfortable drive, partly thanks to NVH refinements and suspension set up. Although the rock-hard plastic covering the dash and door panels is a little surprising for a VW, the top-spec T-Roc comes with a generous list of standard equipment, clever safety technology and an intuitive infotainment system.