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Volkswagen T-Roc 140TSI R-Line 2023 review

John Law

Extra safety kit as standard, a more handsome visage and soft-touch dashboard work together to make the great-to-drive T-Roc an even sweeter small SUV

Good points

  • Strong turbo engines
  • Well-tuned safety suite
  • Great ride quality
  • Spacious interior
  • Wireless smartphone mirroring

Needs work

  • R-Line can get expensive
  • Golf has crisper handling
  • Blind-spot tech not fitted for MY23
  • Relatively expensive servicing

The Volkswagen T-Roc hasn’t had the easiest time in Australia. VW fought hard to secure right-hand-drive production for our market, but when the small SUV debuted here in 2018 prices were higher than some expected – but either way, supply has rarely been sufficient to meet demand.

And, of course, there was that horribly un-Volkswagen scratchy plastic dash that made motoring critics Australia-wide cry out for better from a $50K small SUV, even if punters might never have noticed it.

Volkswagen T-Roc 140TSI R-Line-10

Thankfully, VW has listened with the latest T-Roc. The refreshed small SUV heaps on additional technology with a digital driving display and highway travel assist now standard on the entry-level T-Roc 110TSI Style ($37,250 before on-road costs) while a more dignified soft dash has been belatedly added, helping to justify price increases of $1750 on the Style, and $2650 on the all-wheel drive T-Roc 140TSI R-Line ($45,350 before on-road costs).

VW has fiddled with the line-upe with the new 140TSI R-Line grade picking up where the old Sport left off. Before the facelift the, 140TSI Sport was most popular with Australians (if only by a small margin), so we’ve focused on the new R-Line for this review.

That said, with its frugal 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine, the Style will be plenty for those who are looking to use their T-Rocs around town. It’s also a little more practical as its simpler if less refined torsion beam rear suspension affords 14 percent more boot space. A sound and vision pack ($2000) that adds a 10.25-inch digital driver’s display, navigation and wireless smartphone mirroring to the Style is well worth considering.

Volkswagen T-Roc 140TSI R-Line-20

The R-Line tested is a fuller package, you’d expect that for its $45,350 list price. For the extra outlay VW includes independent rear suspension, AWD and a grunty 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine. There are also different 18-inch alloy wheels, while the R-Line scores the 10.25-inch digital driver’s display and navigation as standard.

All the T-Roc R-Lines at the Australian launch were wearing the black pack ($2900) that – perhaps oddly – bundles a contrast roof, mirror caps, dark badging and faux-carbon decal on the C-Pillar with three-stage adaptive dampers, apparently needed for the upsized 19-inch ‘Misano’ alloy wheels. The $600 power tailgate box was also ticked, bringing this T-Roc to $52,700 before on-roads costs.

The updated T-Roc will need to be good at that asking price. Loaded up, the T-Roc R-Line tested is dearer than not only Hyundai Kona N-Line Premium ($43,200), Mazda CX-30 G25 Astina ($44,490) and Skoda Kamiq ($42,990 driveaway), but also an Audi Q2 40 TFSI S Line ($52,200).

Volkswagen T-Roc 140TSI R-Line-17

Regardless of the steeper pricing, Volkswagen has high hopes for T-Roc. With supply improving, the brand is hoping to sell between 5000–6000 T-Roc examples in Australia over the next 12 months. It may very well work, as the facelifted T-Roc moves the safety game forward and boasts a more handsome visage with all the great driving attributes you’d expect from a European turbo-petrol SUV.

How does the T-Roc 140TSI R-Line drive?

There’s nothing at all wrong with the Style grade’s 110kW/250Nm outputs. The Style is quick enough to make brisk progress, but the T-Roc’s excellent chassis feels like it deserves the R-Line’s powerful 140kW/320Nm 2.0-litre donk. The R-Line’s AWD system also adds confidence in slippery conditions and is enough to see the 1477kg R-Line accelerate to 100km/h in 7.2 seconds (claimed).

Volkswagen T-Roc 140TSI R-Line-12

As a bonus the 140TSI engine is hooked up to a seven-speed wet-clutch DSG automatic gearbox. Volkswagen’s dual-clutch autos may have been less than perfect at the start, but these transmissions are now so fast, slick and user friendly it’s hard to find a foible. The same can’t be said for the base Style’s eight-speed torque converter, which seems like it could do with a recalibration to be up there with the best.

The other powertrain worth mentioning is the 221kW/400Nm tune of the same ‘EA888’ 2.0-litre found in the T-Roc R. That car also gets AWD and slingshots the small SUV to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds for not a lot more money (from $54,300) than a loaded up 140TSI. We’ll have a full review of the hottest T-Roc soon.

With the black pack installed the T-Roc R-Line benefits from three-stage adaptive dampers that help insulate the occupants from harshness the larger 19-inchMisano’ alloy wheels may have introduced. The result is gorgeous ride quality; soft and supple around town in Comfort, with enough body control in Normal to really lean on the car in corners.

Volkswagen T-Roc 140TSI R-Line-11

Sport suspension proved too firm for the ACT’s undulating, pot-holed back roads, though on smooth hotmix it would be a good setting. Thankfully the T-Roc has three drive modes and a further individual setting. I found for spirited driving that having engine, gearbox and steering in Sport mode with Normal dampers was ideal. There are also steering wheel mounted paddles on both the 110TSI Style and the 140TSI R-Line.

Speaking of steering, the variable ratio rack in the R-Line feels great. It’s sharp and precise when you want, yet light and easy to twirl when parking. The only issue with the T-Roc’s handling is its height over a Golf. The R-Line may only stand 131mm taller than a Golf (being 12mm lower than a Style), but you notice it.

Sometimes this adds fun, with the T-Roc getting up on its tippy-toes and responding keenly to throttle inputs mid-corner, but the lower Golf’s roadholding is better. You probably already know that if you’re a keen driver, the family hatch is a better choice. That’s not to take away the T-Roc’s top-of-the-class dynamics though, this is a really engaging and surefooted small SUV.

Volkswagen T-Roc 140TSI R-Line-9

Safety has also improved greatly – for the base model especially – with highway travel assist that bundles adaptive cruise control with a more advanced lane-trace assist program that works faultlessly.

T-Roc retains its 2018 five-star ANCAP safety result and packs front and rear AEB with pedestrian detection The 2022 year model cars are fitted with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert though MY23 T-Rocs will lose these features to alleviate supply pressures. The resulting discount is $650.

Drivability scorecard
Power & performance
Ride & refinement

How is the T-Roc 140TSI R-Line’s interior?

Inside is where the biggest changes have been made to T-Roc. The small SUV hasn’t been treated to a full revamp with all-new technology in the cabin – though there is now wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – but there is a soft-touch dashboard which goes surprisingly far in boosting perceived ambience.

Volkswagen T-Roc 140TSI R-Line-7

In his review of the pre-facelift T-Roc, Editor Tom Baker complained of the scratchy plastic dashboard not only feeling cheap, but impairing vision by throwing glare onto the windscreen in Australia’s hot sun. It seems the soft dash also insulates the cabin sound a little better, dampening excess rattles. It really makes more difference than you’d imagine.

Unfortunately the hard door tops remain, but where you actually rest your arms (for example the centre and door card armrests) have soft padding and leatherette upholstery. The R-Line steering wheel’s perforated leather upholstery feels lovely in the hand, too.

Seating is taken care of by manually adjustable fabric-upholstered R-Line bucket seats as standard. The tested R-Line examples were loaded with the luxurious Nappa leather pack ($3950) with different electric seats that feature three-stage heating and a memory function for the driver.

Volkswagen T-Roc 140TSI R-Line-4

The centre screen isn’t huge at only 8.0-inches in size but it is so much more user friendly and responsive than the Golf’s newer infotainment. There are touch capacitive shortcut buttons on the side and faultless wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is standard on R-Line variants. The six-speaker 380-watt Beats sound system was decent, but not as powerful, clear or warm as a Volvo XC40’s Harman Kardon.

In the rear the T-Roc makes a case for itself as a downsizer’s dream. The rear bench would be tight for three, but two six-foot people in the back would be comfortable. There is good leg and knee room, and without the $2000 sunroof, headroom was also agreeable. Adjustable rear air vents and a pair of USB-C chargers feature as well.

Boot space is impressive as well. The Style (445L) edges out the R-Line (392L) slightly here owing to its better-packaged torsion beam suspension but both grades are more generous than Golf (381L). Under the boot floor is a space saver spare tyre. A kick-to-open power tailgate is currently a $600 option to keep T-Roc supply flowing.

Volkswagen T-Roc 140TSI R-Line-1

Interior scorecard
Layout & materials
Cabin technology
Driver comfort
Passenger space

What are the T-Roc 140TSI R-Line’s running costs?

European cars have come a long way in recent years when it comes to scheduled servicing costs. This is certainly true for Volkswagen with its value-oriented care plans.

A five-year/75,000km care plan for T-Roc R-line costs $2600 while a three-year plan $1550. This is still more expensive than a Hyundai Kona N-Line ($1595) or Skoda Kamiq ($1550) and Kia Seltos ($1989).

Volkswagen T-Roc 140TSI R-Line-13

T-Roc service intervals are set at 12 months/15,000km, which is standard fare for this kind of vehicle. VW covers all new cars with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

The 140TSI is a little thirstier on fuel than the 110TSI with a 7.3L/100km ADR combined figure compared to 6.3L.100km. Our time in the R-Line saw 8.2L/100km with some spirited country road driving. The T-Roc requires at least premium 95RON unleaded at the bowser.

Running costs scorecard

The final verdict

As Volkswagen Group brands in Australia shift and change, it seems that the Volkswagen T-Roc now offers a value proposition equal to Skoda’s Karoq, albeit in a slightly more compact body. T-Roc’s interior space is impressive as ever, while the price hasn’t climbed as much as rivals considering the facelift’s extra kit.

The driving experience is still classy, European and slick in the T-Roc with its choice of turbo petrol engines. A 140TSI R-Line fitted with the black pack sounds like the pick of the bunch.

That is, except for the comparatively small upcharge to the $54,300 T-Roc R Grid. If you like performance SUVs, that car seems like the bargain of the year considering you get adaptive dampers, most of the interior tech the 140TSI gets and much brisker acceleration.

For those after a comfortable efficient cruiser the T-Roc Style would be a great choice, while the R-Line amps things that little bit more. The T-Roc remains at the pricier end of the segment, but then you do get an ever-so-chic small SUV.

Overall rating
Overall rating
Running costs
Overall rating
Running costs

Variant tested 140TSI R-LINE

Options fitted
Black Style Pack
Easy Open & Close Electric Tailgate
Nappa Leather Pack
Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges

Key specs (as tested)

1984 cc
140kW at 4200rpm
320Nm at 1450rpm
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
55 litres
7.3L/100km (claimed)
Average Range
753km (claimed)
All Wheel Drive
4236 mm
1819 mm
1587 mm
Unoccupied weight
1477 kg

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