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Volkswagen T-Roc

Fuel efficiency Ancap rating
$37,100–$60,300 6.3–8.3 L/100km 5

The Volkswagen T-Roc is a relative newcomer to the small SUV segment, yet it has quickly established itself as one of the best contenders in its class.

First launched in Australia in 2020, the T-Roc’s key attributes include handsome styling, sporty handling, and a broad mix of engines despite a relatively simple three-tier model range.

Latest Review

Wheels Reviews 2023 Volkswagen T Roc R Grid 63

2023 Volkswagen T-Roc R Grid Edition review

All-wheel drive R power for less than a Golf GTI? VW’s T-Roc Grid Edition leaps straight to pole position

14 Mar 2023

Volkswagen’s Mk 8 Golf GTI continues to enjoy huge demand as the perennial, do-anything hot hatch. But what if we told you that you could buy into more, closer to Golf R power, with added all-wheel drive prowess, for less than that ubiquitous GTI?

At $53,400 (before on-road costs), the 2023 Volkswagen T-Roc R Grid Edition revives a variant launched in the Mk 7.5 Golf R, trading big on driving dynamics and potent mechanicals while skimming on superfluous luxuries to keep the asking price accessible.

Of course, in the face of lingering semiconductor shortages, this is a win-win for manufacturers and buyers.

So is there real substance behind this fetching special edition? Let’s see how it all comes together.


How much is it, and what do you get?

Compared to the standard fully-loaded Volkswagen T-Roc R, asking $60,300 before on-road costs after mid-2022 price adjustments, the T-Roc R Grid Edition commands $6900 less and delivers the same mechanical package comprising a 221kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder lifted from Volkswagen’s ubiquitous range of EA888 engines. As an R model, you also get 4Motion all-wheel drive shifting through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Elsewhere, the T-Roc Grid Edition trades some luxuries and standard specification in exchange for its attractive asking price.

Grid Edition T-Rocs swap the standard T-Roc R’s matrix LED headlights for VW’s ‘Performance’ LED adaptive lighting units and downgrades from heated power-adjustable Nappa leather front seats to cloth/microfleece upholstery. It sits on 19-inch ‘Pretoria’ wheels finished in graphite, wears black roof rails, and loses out on rear LED tail lights, power tailgate, power driver's seat adjustment, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

Elsewhere, standard carryover features for the T-Roc R Grid Edition include premium metallic paint, a 9.2-inch infotainment system with wired and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a wireless phone charger, dual-zone climate control and satellite navigation.

The sole available option for the T-Roc R Grid Edition is a $2000 panoramic sunroof.

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How do rivals compare on value?

Given its driver-focused positioning, Volkswagen’s T-Roc R Grid Edition represents good value when compared to more expensive all-wheel drive German crossovers.

The Mini Countryman JCW Sport similarly offers all-wheel drive traction and turbo-four power at $61,900, while Volkswagen Group’s own Cupra Formentor VZx harnesses the same mechanical powertrain, yours for $63,990 (both before on-road costs).

The BMW X2 M35i Pure swings in at $70,500, offering a similar 225kW/400Nm output, while the more powerful 319kW/500Nm Mercedes-AMG GLA45 commands a significant premium at $90,859 (both before on-road costs).

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Interior comfort, space and storage

Hopping into the T-Roc’s cabin, we're greeted by an instant feeling of solidity and a quality, premium build.

While relatively new to Australia, the T-Roc has been available overseas for some time and, as such, lifts many of its interior cues and architectural hardpoints with the previous-generation Golf.

This means that visually, at least, the cabin is beginning to age in the face of younger competition, but it’s an intuitive and incredibly liveable place to be. There’s a familiar conventional gear selector and a dedicated HVAC control panel for ease of ergonomics.

Getting a Grid Edition means you miss out on the standard T-Roc R’s Nappa leather and powered-adjustable heated front seats, instead settling for the T-Roc R-Line’s cloth/microfleece upholstery, featuring manual adjustment and very fun tartan-like seat centres.

Beyond the sizeable door pockets, there are many storage nooks up front, with two USB-C ports to handle any device charging needs.

The back seats aren’t the biggest, but are comfortable and offer decent amounts of headroom and toe room under the unpowered front seats. Legroom, however, may become somewhat problematic for those above 180cm in height.

Behind those, the 392-litre boot is up slightly on the Golf hatch but is dwarfed by the Golf R Wagon’s 611-litre boot. The back seats fold 60:40, with a central ski port for added flexibility, and expand cargo capacity to 1237 litres when folded.

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What is it like to drive?

There’s a particular ‘hatchiness’ to the sporty T-Roc R Grid Edition, though that’s no surprise given its closely related Mk 7.5 Golf R roots. It’s an athletic, agile and, it must be said, very capable drive that covers daily liveability and a rewarding enthusiast experience.

In normal driving modes, there is an underlying firmness to the T-Roc, insofar as the damping action is quick and the short hatch-like wheelbase is naturally less bump-resistant than larger vehicles.

At its softest, it isn’t what you’d call plush, and is noticeably more tied down than its pedestrian T-Roc counterparts. However, this doesn’t at all feel out of step with its sporty pretence, especially in pared-back Grid guise – it always feels alert and ready to stun.

The T-Roc R’s slightly older bones mean it misses out on the latest Mk 8 Golf R’s trick torque-vectoring rear differential, but it’s tremendously willing to accept rapid changes in direction through a tight mountain switchback.

A handy catchall ‘R’ Mode haptic button on the steering wheel means on-the-fly changes are intuitively and rapidly engaged when approaching an attractive piece of tarmac, with a noticeable and agreeable spread between Normal and Race damping tunes.

The steering doesn’t vary wildly in load through the lock and speed envelope but, like most things VW, it’s incredibly intuitive, with a quick response off-centre, and accurate. Brakes are strong, consistent and confidence-inspiring.

VW’s ubiquitous 2.0-litre turbocharged EA888 four-cylinder provides ample power and torque, peaking at 221kW at 5300rpm and 400Nm from 2000rpm.

At speed, it’s a muscular unit that builds speed with ease and has proven itself in a variety of use cases as a flexible and dependable unit. Overall, it’s a car that's easy to drive, slow or fast, and fits its brief as an agile inner-city runabout to a tee.

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How is it on fuel?

Volkswagen claims the T-Roc R Grid Edition consumes 8.3L/100km on the ADR combined cycle. It operates on a 95 RON (minimum) diet.

This particular launch program involved switching between various cars comprising two different models, so we were not able to gather accurate fuel use readings.

A highway jaunt from Sydney to Canberra on the prior T-Roc R launch, however, returned a highway cruising figure of 7.7L/100km on the trip computer. Expect closer to high nines in the real, urban world.

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How safe is it?

The Volkswagen T-Roc R Grid Edition’s official safety rating is a little murky, with the mainstream range awarded five stars by ANCAP in 2017.

However, the T-Roc R is expressly excluded from such rating, so both the standard T-Roc R and T-Roc R Grid Edition are currently recognised as unrated by Australasia’s safety watchdog.

The T-Roc R comes fitted with dual front passenger airbags, dual front side airbags and front and rear curtain airbags.

Active safety features include adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and lane-centring functions, driver fatigue monitoring, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, front and rear low-speed AEB, semi-auto park assist and a reversing camera.

T-Roc R Grid Editions lose out on blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and Volkswagen’s ‘proactive occupant protection system’, which can pre-tension the seatbelts if an imminent unavoidable collision is detected, as well as automatically move the windows and sunroof (if optioned) to create a small gap for maximum airbag effectiveness, and trigger the hazard warning lights to maximise on-road visibility.


Warranty and running costs

All Australian-delivered Volkswagens are covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre manufacturer’s warranty.

Volkswagen offers pre-paid servicing programs, priced at $1600 for three years or $2800 for five years.

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The Volkswagen T-Roc is an impressive package and feels best suited for those inner-city young couples and families that spend most of the week navigating through the metropolitan area but like to break out of the city at weekends in search of a twisty road.

Small back seats prevent the T-Roc from filing any maturing family duties, the rear seats won’t fit the teenagers with comfort, and the boot will struggle with the Saturday morning sport haul; but it’s an athletic little street fighter that delivers a measure of restrained style, and a big dollop of performance for its class and price.

A slightly ageing cabin is arguably easier to navigate and live with than that of the latest Golf, and one has to imagine the lively little T-Roc would be an effortless thing to live with.

The lack of increasingly desired tech such as wireless phone mirroring and a head-up display, along with an uncertain safety rating, are the biggest struggles buyers may face.

If you can look past that, however, the T-Roc R Grid Edition is a considered driving enthusiast’s choice that pragmatically fills the needs of the mid-week grind and scratches that itch on an early Sunday morning, out somewhere like the Victorian High Country.

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Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling

Things we like

  • Capable and thrilling dynamics
  • Everyday liveable
  • VW R power for less money

Not so much

  • Lack of some tech is noticeable
  • Second-row legroom
  • Unrated by ANCAP

More Reviews

Volkswagen T-Roc Prices and Specifications

VariantPriceFuel TypePowerTransmission
Style$37,100–$37,250Petrol110 kW8 SP Automatic
R-Line$45,200–$45,350Petrol140 kW7 SP Automatic
R$60,300Petrol221 kW7 SP Automatic
R Grid Edition$54,300Petrol221 kW7 SP Automatic


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About the Volkswagen T-Roc

The Volkswagen T-Roc is a relative newcomer to the small SUV segment, yet it has quickly established itself as one of the best contenders in its class.

First launched in Australia in 2020, the T-Roc’s key attributes include handsome styling, sporty handling, and a broad mix of engines despite a relatively simple three-tier model range.

A significantly updated Volkswagen T-Roc range was released in the second half of 2022, with revised styling, an upgraded interior and new technology.

The entry-level 110TSI Style is powered by a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine with 110kW/250Nm and is front-wheel drive. The mid-spec R-Line and flagship R are both all-wheel drive and have more powerful 2.0-litre petrol engines.

The T-Roc is built in Portugal and comes with a five-year/unlimited km warranty which is transferable.

Other notable models in the T-Roc segment include the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-30, Skoda Kamiq, Subaru XV, Suzuki S-Cross, and Toyota C-HR.