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Juliet McGuire

First drive in the new Volkswagen T-Roc

Yoh! But we have waited an age for the Volkswagen T-Roc to arrive in South Africa. I thought it was never going to get here! I attended the incredible launch of it this week at the spectacular Grootbos Private Nature Reserve in Gansbaai. It was the perfect backdrop to what is a fabulous, albeit expensive, compact SUV.

WHAT IS IT?

It will sit just above the ridiculously popular T-Cross and just under the as popular Tiguan. In essence, it will be for the customer who doesn’t require much space and prefers a more stylish approach to their cars. I love the look of it and I love the interior. Even though many reviews deem the plastics used within to be cheap and nasty. I don’t find it to be a bother. My bestie, ol’ Terence, and I had this conversation on the drive. It is often something motoring journalists mention as a downfall, but the plastics used never really concern me too much. It might, of course, affect the car in the long run, perhaps they are more easily scratched and tarnished, but other than that, I just don’t spend any time touching and prodding the materials used in a car. This is probably something I shouldn’t admit to, especially as I am a very serious motoring journalist 😉

Volkswagen T-Roc

WHAT’S ON OFFER?

You have two trim levels to choose from, namely the Design or the R-Line. And then you have two engines to choose from; a 1.4-litre or a 2.0-litre. My pick would undoubtedly be the 1.4-litre engine. For the only reason that I feel it offers enough power at 110 kW and 250 Nm (and it is cheaper). It is punchy and easy enough for those overtaking manoeuvres required when you encounter a “Sunday driver”. It is mated to a tiptronic ‘box, the DSG is found on the 2.0-litre model only.

The smaller wheels on the 1.4 also make for a quieter and smoother ride. I didn’t experience too much of the road noise many have commented on and overall, I found the driving experience to be more on par with a popular premium manufacturer, namely Audi. Go team!

SPACED OUT

It is not a spacious car, especially in the rear. In fact, the rear legroom and headroom is almost non-existent, especially if you are of the taller persuasion, like Terence. But even I am not that tall and I was a tad cramped. The boot is not bad at a claimed 445-litres. It is more about the design of this car than it is about the space and practicality. And for someone like me, a Practical Pam, I struggle with this notion. But I get it, if you don’t have kids or transport any peeps around with you, then why do you need rear space? You don’t! I just need enough space for all the cases of wine.

ALL SPECCED OUT

There are enough standard features to keep most of us happy. There is a 8-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Also standard across the range is App Connect and We Connect Go. And if you have the extra budget, you can splash out on the Active Info Display which makes for a digitally interactive cabin. It looks rather smashing too.

There is also climatic air conditioning and Park Distance Control (front and rear). If you want all the extra fancy pants stuff, you will have to look at the R-Line which comes with high-tech systems such as Front Assist area monitoring with City Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Monitoring, Automatic Post-Collision Braking System and lane keeping system Lane Assist. It has boasts keyless entry, mobile phone inductive charging, Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Assist and Vienna leather seats. If you want stuff like a panoramic sunroof, electronic trailer hitch, smoker’s package, Discover Pro navigation system with a 9.2-inch screen or the Beats sound system and Park Package, you will have to fork out for it. And it is already a flipping expensive car, so choose wisely.

Volkswagen T-Roc

SO WHAT IS THE PRICE OF THE T-ROC?

T-Roc 1.4 TSI 110kW Tiptronic Design: R489 400
T-Roc 2.0 TSI 140kW 4MOTION® DSG® Design: R548 300
T-Roc 2.0 TSI 140kW 4MOTION® DSG® R-Line: R593 600

It comes standard with a 3 year/120 000km warranty, 5 year/ 90 000km Volkswagen Service Plan and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty.

See what I mean? It is darn expensive. Which just kills me a little, because I adore this car. But I can tell you one thing, it will still sell. Volkswagen knows it won’t be a volume seller like the T-Cross or Polo, for example, but you will still find the customers who don’t care about the practical side of things and who have the money to spend (oh how I wish I was one of these people). Brace yourself to see many of these on the road soon. It goes on sale at the end of November.

BEFORE YOU GO

You HAVE to watch the Volkswagen TV ads for the T-Roc, if you haven’t already watched them. I was fortunate enough to witness Kitty Phetla perform the Dying Swan at the launch which literally brought a tear to my eye, it was exquisite. I hope to meet Major Mandisa Mfeka too.

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