Everyone’s talking about electrification, and arguably, the Volkswagen-Audi group has been one of the most vocal. Last year, Volkswagen publicly pledged that they would invest over $100 billion USD in electric vehicles, anticipating they’ll account for 25% of sales after roughly 5 years.  

Simultaneously, Volkswagen has seemingly been busy playing Oprah with the Golf R’s stonkingly powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder powertrain, distributing it amongst its range.

You get an R! YOU GET AN R! The result being the recent introduction of the Tiguan R and the T-Roc R.

The T-Roc R is what we have before us. Volkswagen’s new sensible crossover, now with added raucousness. The question is, does this Ctrl-C approach actually give us a credible performance crossover? Or perhaps, is it more practical Golf R? We had the keys for a week to find out. 

What We Like and Dislike About The 2022 Volkswagen T-Roc R

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Properly rapid
Good handling
Sleeper looks
Interior technology
$7,000 cheaper than a Golf R
The front doors (see below)
Some awkward interior ergonomics
Not sold on haptic touch buttons
Boot space only slightly bigger than Golf
Dark interior
Needs an engine cover
Doesn’t fully scratch the performance-car itch

What’s In The 2022 Volkswagen T-Roc R range?

The Volkswagen T-Roc R is best considered as a separate entity to the normal T-Roc. It’s sort-of similar to the standard Golf versus a Golf R. Same body, different beast.

Either way, the entire T-Roc range is priced below.

ModelPrice*
Volkswagen T-Roc TSI Life 2WD$43,490
Volkswagen T-Roc TSI Life+ 2WD$47,990
Volkswagen T-Roc TSI R-Line 2WD$54,990
Volkswagen T-Roc R$71,990
Price excludes Clean Car Rebate or Fee*

As at the time of writing, the T-Roc R incurs a clean-car fee of $1,660. The standard range of T-Roc incurs no fee. 

The T-Roc R is powered by Volkswagen’s mighty EA888 engine, being a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, outputting 221kW of power and 400Nm of torque. The engine is paired with a 7-speed dual clutch (DSG) gearbox. 

Compared to a standard T-Roc, the T-Roc R has twice the power, and nearly twice the torque. Told ya it’s a different beast.

2022 Volkswagen T-Roc R Standard Equipment Highlights

  • 19’’ Alloys (235/40/19)
  • Electronically-controlled Adaptive dampers
  • “R” driving modes
  • 9.2″ Infotainment screen, with Bluetooth
  • 10.25″ “Active Info Display Pro” digital instrument cluster
  •  6-speaker Audio System
  • Sat-nav
  • Reverse Camera
  • Front and Rear parking sensors
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, MirrorLink
  • Wireless Phone Charging
  • “Kessy” Keyless Entry
  • “R” exterior package
    • Front and Rear Bumpers,
    • Coloured Rear Spoilers,
    • Blue Brake Callipers
  • Auto-Dimming Rear-View Mirror
  • Blue Interior Ambient Lighting
  • Dual Zone Climate Control
  • Exterior ambient lighting (lightbar and door handles)
  • Front and Rear Fog-lights
  • Hands-Free Tailgate
  • Heated front seats
  • Heated Steering Wheel
  • LED combination tail lights with sequential indicators
  • Manually-adjustable passenger seat with lumbar
  • Matrix LED Headlights with Auto-Beams and Daytime Running Lights
  • Nappa Leather upholstery (genuine and artificial)
  • Power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory
  • Powered and Heated mirrors
  • Privacy glass
  • Push Button Start
  • Silver Roof Rails
  • Stainless Steel Pedals

Volkswagen also has a few options available for your T-Roc R, including:

  • Akrapovic Titanium Exhaust System – $5,500
  • Panoramic Sunroof – $2,750
  • ‘Beats’ sound system with subwoofer and amplifier – $2,750

The Volkswagen T-Roc R also comes standard with a suite of safety features, including:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
  • Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR)
  • Auto parallel parking (Parallel parking assist)
  • Auto-hold function
  • Blind Spot Monitoring
  • Driver fatigue detection
  • Electronic Stability Programme (ESP)
  • Forward Collision Warning with Front Assist Emergency Braking
  • Hill descent control
  • ISOFIX x2
  • Lane Keeping Assist
  • Pedestrian Monitoring
  • Tyre Pressure Monitoring
  • Trailer stabilisation

There are five standard colours for T-Roc R, these are:

  • Pure White
  • Indium Grey Metallic
  • Lapiz Blue Metallic
  • Ascot Grey
  • Deep Black Pearlescent

There are also five additional two-tone colours available for an additional $750:

  • Pure White with a Black Roof
  • Kings Red with a Black Roof
  • Indium Grey Metallic with a Black Roof
  • Lapiz Blue Metallic with a Black Roof
  • Ascot Grey with a Black Roof

For more information on the Volkswagen T-Roc R, check out the Volkswagen New Zealand website.


How Does The 2022 Volkswagen T-Roc R Compare To Its Competition?

You can have any engine you like, as long as it’s a turbocharged four-banger.

Make/ ModelEnginePower/Torque
kW/Nm
0-100km/h,
seconds
Fuel
L/100km
BootSpace,
litres
Price (excl CCP)
Mercedes-AMG GLA35 4-Matic2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol225/4005.28.0435$111,699
BMW X2 M35i2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol225/4504.97.5470$96,700
Audi SQ2 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol221/4004.98.6355$84,490
MINI Countryman JCW Essential 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol225/4504.87.6450$76,620
VW T-Roc R (AWD)2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol221/4004.99.3392$71,990
Cupra Ateca2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol221/4004.99.0485$66,900


First Impressions Of The 2022 Volkswagen T-Roc R 

I don’t even need to ask why the T-Roc exists. We can tell it’s Volkswagen’s answer to that customer which says “I’d like a Golf, but I want an SUV”, but also thinks a Tiguan is pushing it.

So, what of the looks? Well, on the standard T-Roc, all the shapes and lines look distinctively Volkswagen, notably the shape of the lights and the consistent line across the side profiles. As with the rest of the range, Volkswagen has given the T-Roc the LEDs and light bar treatment. It looks pretty swish. 

Up close, the T-Roc R has some noticeably spicier details. The 19’’ alloys, bright blue brake callipers and the alluring Akrapovic exhaust tips, if you have them optioned, make for a confident yet subtle statement. 

It looks even better in the Lapiz Blue paint, which is bold, but also well-mannered enough to not draw any ire from police officers.     

Overall, the T-Roc R flies under the radar. Those that know what it is, can tell. Those that don’t, will just see it blend with other crossovers. In that sense, the T-Roc R is a proper sleeper.  It’s hard to get much cooler than that.

What’s The Interior Like In The 2022 Volkswagen T-Roc R?

Before we jump inside, I need to keep your attention on the outside for a moment. Open one of the front doors, then shut it. Sounds pretty good, right?

For those of you who won’t indulge themselves with the experience, the door-closing sound on the T-Roc R is stellar. It has the sort of thunk, that’s kind-of, but not quite like an older vehicle or a Mercedes G-Wagon. Either way, it’s exceptionally satisfying. Odd that you don’t get the same effect with the rear doors. Anyway, I digress.   

Inside the T-Roc R, the hues are blue and black. Blue contrast stitching, trims and ambient lighting offset the black seats, dash, roof-liner and more.    

In terms of design, it blends different elements of the Volkswagen range. Although, it’s definitely more Tiguan on the inside than Golf. Either way, haptic touch buttons are on the menu for the climate and steering wheel controls. The haptic buttons have been a point of contention since Volkswagen introduced them on the Golf. For me personally, physical buttons win hands-down. Although, the haptic tiles aren’t awful once you’ve adjusted to them.

Being a Volkswagen product, the interior build quality is of a good standard, but between all the darker colours, the cabin doesn’t feel as spacious as it is. If Volkswagen did offer a panoramic sunroof in the future, I’d be ticking that box.

Front and centre is a 9.2’’ infotainment unit. The screen has good resolution, good on-screen graphics, and the user interface is simply understood. Its responsiveness is good too, seldom ever lagging. 

I also appreciate that it has some hard menu buttons along the side bezel, including a proper volume control.  It’s considerably better than the finicky volume slider in the Volkswagen Golf. 

Although, the technological jewel-in-the-crown is the Volkswagen-Audi group digital dash-cluster. In Volkswagens it’s called the Active Info Display “Pro”. It also goes by “Virtual Cockpit” in Audi’s. It’s a high-res, highly configurable instrument cluster, which almost doubles as a second infotainment system, only directly in front of the driver. You can select several different options, including having a full sat-nav screen. It’s one of the best digital dash-clusters on the market, without question.  

This said, Volkswagen should programme-in a reading for average fuel economy. The digital dash cluster has a display for a ‘by-the-second’ current fuel consumption reading, which in my opinion, is completely useless. To find the fuel economy average, you need to hunt it out through the central infotainment screen. 

Our test vehicle didn’t have the optional “Beats” audio-system, instead fitted with the standard unnamed 6-speaker audio system. The audio system did require some equaliser adjustment to get the best from it, but performed reasonably well once sorted.

In front, the T-Roc R gets a pair of serious-looking sports seats. They’re dressed in a combination of real and artificial leather, with contrast blue stitching, an embossed R, and carbon fibre weave effect around the bolstering and shoulder areas. 

At $71,990, it seems a bit stingy of Volkswagen that only the driver’s seat is powered, but I cannot fault them otherwise. They’re comfortable, and there’s enough lateral bolstering to hold you in a fast corner, without being an everyday nuisance. It’s worth noting that these aren’t the same seats as the Golf R. The Golf R gets a different set, with heating and ventilation. The T-Roc R only gets heated seats. 

Despite being a small crossover, rear passengers aren’t starved for head or leg-room. Adults can be comfortably seated in the outboard rear seats. I’m only of average height, but I still had a good few inches between my head and the roofline.

The backs of the rear seats of the T-Roc are also carved out, meaning rear passengers sink deeper into the seat and gain some lateral bolstering.  It should help keep the passengers centred, should the driver start to have some fun behind the wheel. 

One might expect that opting for a crossover compared with a hatchback would reward you with more boot space. While this technically true with the T-Roc versus the Golf, the actual difference is less significant.

The T-Roc R’s boot space is 392 litres with the seats up, only 18 litres more than the Golf R. The difference shrinks even more when you lay all the seats flat. With them down, the T-Roc R offers 1,237L of space, 4L more than a Golf R. This isn’t necessarily a shortcoming of the T-Roc, rather it is a compliment of the Golf. The T-Roc’s boot is still fairly generous compared with competitors, but one does consider whether you should just opt for the Golf R.

Although spare tyres seem to be going out of style in modern cars, the T-Roc R still manages to squeeze in a space saver.  

Of the few complaints with the interior, some are ergonomic and the other is accessory related. For example, changing drive modes is a slightly finicky affair. There’s two ways to do it, using the “R” button on the steering wheel or using the central rotary dial.

The R button immediately jumps to Race mode, which is nice if you’re approaching some twisty roads, but even nicer if you have optional Akrapovic exhaust. But, the tricky bit is switching back to another mode once you’ve made it out the other end of the tunnel. You need to tap the R-button quickly twice to get it to switch modes, but fast action clicks aren’t particularly easy with a haptic tile. The rotary dial on the centre console has a counter-intuitive layout. You press the smaller, centre button to cycle between the driving modes, and rotate the outer bezel to switch the T-Roc between its off-road modes. The latter comes more naturally to hand, but you seldom ever use the off-road modes. Small complaints, I know. 

Perhaps more significantly, the wireless phone charger also didn’t like my phone case and refused to charge my device. This isn’t exclusively a T-Roc, nor a Volkswagen problem, I’ve encountered it before with other brands. However, some manufacturers, including Volkswagen themselves, have figured it out for their other vehicles. I drove the Skoda Fabia after the T-Roc R, and its wireless charger had no issues with my phone case.

What’s The 2022 Volkswagen T-Roc R Like To Drive? 

Back in the 1990’s and 2000s, the 2.0L 4-cylinder engine was taking the world by storm. It was a glorious time, particularly for the Japanese. Whether it was a naturally-aspirated Honda engine screaming to 9,000 RPM, or turbo-charged rally-derived power plants from Subaru, Toyota or Mitsubishi, the Japanese were showing us just how potent these engines can be.

So, it may run slightly against the grain that in 2022, Europe is now producing some of the most wicked four-bangers. Among them is Volkswagen, with their legendary EA888 turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. 

Why is this engine so good? The answer can be designated in horses.

Ever since someone in the last decade figured out how to break the ECU on a Golf R, we’ve been seeing Golf’s running 500 horsepower with a simple reflash and a few bolt-on modifications. In short, it’s an engine that can take some serious power. Over-engineering at its finest. 

It’s even better now that Volkswagen has decided to drop that same engine into its other vehicles, and in this case, the Volkswagen T-Roc R. The EA888 engine is considerably less stressed from the factory. In the T-Roc R, the engine is tuned to output 221 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque. It’s slightly down in power compared with the Golf R’s 235 kW, but 221 kW is hardly a figure to scoff at.

If only it didn’t look like a dog’s dinner underneath

So, what’s it like in the real world?

Off-the-line, the T-Roc R is brisk, but nothing that’ll exactly knock your socks off if you’ve experienced quick cars before. But keep it on the boil, because the T-Roc R really comes alive once you’re in motion. 

Above 4,000rpm, the T-Roc R is quick. Startlingly quick. Mash your foot to the floor, the dual-clutch gearbox (DSG) jumps down several gears and immediately thrusts you into the distance. Honestly, the performance left me wide-eyed every time I pulled-out to pass someone. Mid-range power is so plentiful, that you probably won’t believe the headline power figure of 221kW. It feels like more.    

The mid-range thrust is also partly aided by shorter gear ratios, ensuring you’re always in the best powerband. In fact, the T-Roc R has shorter ratios than on the previous generation, Mk 7 Golf R. Speaking of short ratios, the DSG in the T-Roc R is rapid and totally seamless. Volkswagen has perfected this formula from years of development. They do one of the best DSG’s, no question.

Using the paddles behind the steering-wheel is also another way of making the experience just that extra bit more engaging. Paddle shifts respond just as quickly as when letting the gearbox do its own thing. Speaking of engaging, the T-Roc R does have launch control, which will get you off-the-line much quicker than with a simple brake boost. Either way, you do need to get the T-Roc R rolling, if you want to really feel its capability.

Despite being on top of their game with dual-clutch development, there are some intrinsic quirks. Uphill reversing still presents a challenge for it. However, in low-speed traffic-jam conditions, where DSGs are typically challenged, the T-Roc R didn’t seem too phased by it. 

Another part of the package is the adjustable suspension. The T-Roc R has electronically adaptive dampers (DCC), which are adjustable via the preset drive-modes. It’s not the only thing which adjusts when you change drive mode. In R mode, everything is sharper. The engine and throttle are more responsive, the steering weights up, and importantly, the suspension becomes noticeably firmer. 

Even though everything tightens up, it’s not over-the-top. Because let’s be honest, despite all the marketing-talk, I doubt anyone is going to ever take their T-Roc R on the race track. Instead, everything is tightened to a point where you can commit to some fast road driving, without shaking your teeth out on a bumpy road.

It’s all the better for it too, because the T-Roc R is great fun on the road.  In the fast stuff, the T-Roc R has excellent chassis control. The front-end grips superbly, and there’s minimal body roll when going quickly in a corner. The turn-in is fairly neutral, but it tracks a corner well, undoubtedly helped by VW’s 4-motion all-wheel drive and torque vectoring. 

Dynamically, the T-Roc R is highly competent. But I warn you, with the amount of power you have on tap, the overly-spirited will be within reach of the natural limit.

There’s your problem! The air-conditioning isn’t set to Race!

The optional Akrapovic exhaust produces some fruity noises, but in a respectable way. I say respectable because the noise is very PG-13. That’s to say it’ll bring a smile with its pops and crackles on the overrun, but it’s not bassy enough to bother your neighbours. There’s definitely some artificial amplification going on inside the cabin, which is slightly disappointing given the price you pay for the system. But I guess it’s a sign of the times, you’ll probably never get a truly unfiltered exhaust note without modification these days.  

When you’re done slaying the local backroad, switch the T-Roc R back into an everyday mode, like Normal or Eco mode, T-Roc R morphs into a comfortable day-to-day commuter. The DCC slackens, the engine and throttle response are blunted, and the DSG settles down and holds the gears longer for better fuel economy. The engine is also highly refined, and quite quiet when you’re not making demands of it.  In all, it’s quite pleasant to live with if you’re off doing the grocery run.  

On the subject of fuel economy, we averaged around 10.4L per 100kms during our time with the T-Roc R.  This is a bit of a margin over Volkswagen’s claimed 9.3L per 100kms, though it’s not bad, considering that… well… ya know, fast car go fast? 

Between the engine, the gearbox, suspension and exhaust, the T-Roc R forms a seriously competent small performance SUV. But – and it’s difficult to say – but the T-Roc R doesn’t fully satisfy my performance itch.

Sure, there’s plenty of fun to be had and it brought a smile to my face many times. But for me, it sort-of lacked a zing. Perhaps, it’s the engine. Despite being powerful and over-engineered, it’s not the most characterful turbo 4-cylinder out there. It doesn’t rev particularly high nor freely, there’s no outrageous powerband, or anything that makes you feel like you’re driving on the ragged edge. Instead, the performance is clinical, rather than eventful.  I guess you could say it’s a tad too, well, European. The European demeanour of cosseting and effortless performance, does lend itself better to larger engines with naturally longer legs.

I know it’s a tall order for the T-Roc R to meet all the criteria, but if you’re after a more eventful performance vehicle, the Golf R might be the better call. The T-Roc R is just half a step back, which is the sacrifice you pay for a bit more practicality.

Finally, we should touch on safety. In terms of safety equipment, the T-Roc R has it all. It’s Volkswagen group software, and it’s clearly been developed to the nth-degree. In short, the major bits like the adaptive cruise and lane assist work excellently. No complaints here.

2022 Volkswagen T-Roc R Specifications

Vehicle TypeCompact Performance 5-door SUV
Starting Price$71,990
Price as Tested$77,490
Engine2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
Power, Torque
kW/Nm
221@5,300-6,500rpm
400@2,000-5,200rpm
Transmission7-Speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DSG) with launch control
Spare WheelSpace saver
Kerb Weight, Kg1,654
Length x Width x Height
mm
4236x1819x1559
Cargo Capacity,
Litres (seats up/seats down)
392/1,237
Fuel tank capacity,
litres
55
Fuel Economy,
L/100km
Advertised Spec – Combined – 9.3
Real-World Test – Combined – 10.4

Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
750/1,700
Turning circle
metres
11.1

Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty5 year / 150,000 km (whichever occurs first) mechanical warranty,5 year VW roadside assistance and 12 year anti-corrosion warranty
Safety informationANCAP Rating – 5 stars for standard T-Roc. T-Roc R has not been tested. 
Rightcar.govt.nz – 5 Stars

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Economy
6
Handling
8
Infotainment
8
Interior
7
Performance
8
Ride
8
Safety
8
Styling
9
Value
8
Vehicle Technology
9
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A millennial who prefers driving cars to having avocado on toast.
2022-volkswagen-t-roc-r-car-review<!-- wp:paragraph --> <p> I did have my doubts about the T-Roc R going into this review. I was cynical that it was just a parts-bin performance SUV. But I was happily proven wrong. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p> The T-Roc R is a brilliant daily driver. Around town, it blends into its surroundings, serving as a comfortable, well-equipped and practical small SUV. Once you’ve escaped town roads and nudged the “R” button, the T-Roc R becomes a different beast. It’s properly rapid, it handles well for an SUV, and the exhaust noise is the cherry on top. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p> I also like the confident, yet subtle exterior. It’s a proper sleeper. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p> Is it a Golf R alternative? Probably not. Performance wise, it's half a step back from a Golf R, which means it’s not going to be the car that’ll fulfil the role of dedicated performance car. Adding to this, the T-Roc R is a tad too clinical about its performance delivery for my liking. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p> Regardless, it’s still a tempting proposition, given the extra ground clearance and the fact that it’s $7,000 cheaper than the Golf R. It’s up to you to choose that compromise. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p> Above all, the T-Roc R is a superb daily driver. Go in with this expectation, and you’ll be smiling. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph -->

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