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Volkswagen T-Roc 2021 review: 110 TSI Style

The Volkswagen T-Roc now comes as a base model 110TSI Style - and it's a pretty compelling package.
EXPERT RATING
8
This could be the most important SUV in the Volkswagen range for the coming years. Sure, we've already seen the T-Roc in Australia, but that was the expensive sporty version with all-wheel drive. Now there's a base model version, the 110TSI Style, which is more affordable, still comes well kitted out, has a decent little turbo engine and auto transmission, and could be the right size for you!

The new VW T-Roc 110TSI Style is the variant in the range that we’ve been waiting for. It comes in at a more attractive price point than its dearer, sportier stablemate, yet is still very well equipped for the money.

It also brings a turbocharged petrol engine with more grunt than its rivals and, rather than being fitted with a dual-clutch automatic transmission, it gets a conventional eight-speed auto, driving the front wheels only.

That new powertrain makes for an intriguing talking point, and also helps broaden the appeal of VW Australia’s now complete small SUV line-up with the more palatable price-tag of this newly added variant. 

So is this new model in the Volkswagen T-Roc 2021 range the one you should choose? This review will help you figure that out.

Volkswagen T-ROC 2021: 110TSI
Safety rating
Engine Type1.4L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.2L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$33,990

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The VW T-Roc 110TSI Style has a list price of $33,990 (MSRP - that’s the price before on-road costs), and that means it’s still a bit more expensive than some rivals.

For instance, you can get an entry-level Mazda CX-30 for less than thirty grand (G20 Pure auto - $29,990), while a Kia Seltos is almost $7000 cheaper in base spec (S auto - $26,290) and you can get a Hyundai Kona base model from $24,300 (Go auto). 

But really, if you’re shopping for a budget small SUV, VW Australia reckons you should check out the T-Cross, which spans $27,990 to $30,990, and while it’s one of the most compact light SUVs out there, it plays a big game.

The T-Roc 110TSI Style, though, comes very well equipped for the money, with an extensive standard equipment list comprising: 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, two-tone roof finish, keyless entry with push-button start, dual zone climate control, 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Anmaildroid Auto, 4x USB-C ports, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, six-speaker sound system, fabric seat trim, height adjustment for both front seats, manual seat adjust, a leather steering wheel, and a digital speedometer.

  • Up front are LED headlights and daytime running lights. Up front are LED headlights and daytime running lights.
  • There's a two-tone roof finish. There's a two-tone roof finish.
  • The T-Roc Style wears 18-inch alloy wheels. The T-Roc Style wears 18-inch alloy wheels.
  • Inside is a leather wrapped steering wheel. Inside is a leather wrapped steering wheel.

Further, the base model T-Roc gets electric folding side mirrors with heating, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, and VW’s Park Assist system that can do perpendicular and parallel parks for you, semi-autonomously. Plus there’s adaptive cruise control as well.

There’s a decent safety story to be told in terms of active safety tech - more on that in the section below.

If you want a bit more tech you can option the Sound and Vision Package ($2000), which adds a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, built in sat nav, a 9.0-inch touchscreen (no volume or tuning knobs), wireless smartphone mirroring tech, and a Beats stereo system.

Want some plush? Add the Luxury Package for $3800, and you get different front seats that are heated, plus Vienna leather interior trim in a light hue known as Quartzite Ceramique, a panoramic sunroof and an electric tailgate.

The T-Roc 110TSI Style may not have quite as much, er, style as the $40,490 140TSI Sport variant, but it does rock its own look - including six distinct colour options. Pure White and Flash Red come at no extra cost, but the metallic options Turmeric Yellow, Ravenna Blue, Indium Grey and White Silver cost $600 extra.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

It doesn’t look like a base model car, not with those LED headlights and cute integrated LED DRLs that double as the indicators. Nor with the standard gloss black roof and side mirror finish, chrome accented exterior (including the ‘hockey stick’ over the tops of the windows), and standard 18-inch alloy wheels, too.

There aren’t many small SUVs in this price bracket that have those sorts of styling features, but I guess ‘Style’ is part of the name, so it stands to reason.

The Style is shorter nose-to-tail than the Sport version. The Style is shorter nose-to-tail than the Sport version.

And differentiating it from the Sport model is the black plastic lower cladding that helps push its SUV cause, as well as roof rails for if you want to fit a roof rack accessory. Plus it has the different colour options to the Sport, as mentioned above. 

But to me it’s the size that matters most for the T-Roc 110TSI Style. It’s shorter nose-to-tail than the Sport version, at 4234mm long (on a 2603mm wheelbase), it’s a fair bit smaller than it looks. But it is wide at 1809mm, and tall at 1573mm, though it hides its boxiness very well.

The T-Roc 110 TSI Style doesn’t look like a base model. The T-Roc 110 TSI Style doesn’t look like a base model.

Indeed, that length measurement makes the T-Roc 110TSI Style not only more compact than the 140TSI Sport (4246mm), but also shorter than a Honda HR-V (4294mm), Skoda Kamiq (4241mm), Toyota C-HR (4394mm) Mitsubishi ASX (4365mm) and Kia Seltos (4370mm).

So in terms of design, there is a lot packed into a small space, and the T-Roc is built on the same underpinnings as a VW Golf hatchback, so it’s no surprise the interior is pretty decent, too. Check out the interior images below to see what you think. 

The T-Roc shares a very similar interior as the Golf. The T-Roc shares a very similar interior as the Golf.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The cabin of the VW T-Roc 110TSI Style will feel familiar to you if you’ve ever sat in a Golf, or a Passat, or even a Polo. It’s a nicely presented place, with some really neat touches through the cockpit.

The finishes that span the dashboard are neat, though the hard plastic on top of the dash and doors isn’t going to be up to the VW standard in some buyers’ minds.

The T-Roc's seats are covered in a nice fabric trim. The T-Roc's seats are covered in a nice fabric trim.

There is nice fabric trim on the seats, as well as fabric cushioned arm rests on the front doors and front centre console, too. Plus you’ll find a covered centre bin there, along with a pair of cup holders between the seats, a storage caddy in front of the gear selector, and large door trenches with bottle holders.

Media is taken care of by an 8.0-inch touchscreen with buttons down the sides as well as volume and tuning knobs, and the smartphone mirroring tech works fine so long as you have a USB-C cable or adaptor for your smartphone.

At the centre of the cabin is an 8.0-inch touchscreen. At the centre of the cabin is an 8.0-inch touchscreen.

The sound system is good, and so is the quietness inside the cabin in most situations. It is a nicely refined place to be, especially for front seat passengers, and the view from the driver’s seat is good, too.

I like that there’s an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual zone climate control and an electronic parking brake, but it’s a shame the latter doesn’t auto-apply.

In the second row - with the driver’s seat set for my 182cm/6’0” frame - I found my knees brushing against the seatback, though toe room was good, and head room was impressive as well. There is enough width for three adults across the back at a pinch, but the outboard seats are supportive so as to make you think it’s designed for four occupants, not five.

In the second row, toe head room was impressive. In the second row, toe head room was impressive.

If you have young children, there are ISOFIX outboard seat anchors, and three top-tether points as well. Plus the rear seat scores a set of directional air vents, which is rare in the small SUV class, and unlike the T-Cross below it, the T-Roc gets soft elbow pads on the rear doors.

Storage in the second row is good, with dual map pockets, big bottle holders in the doors, and a flip-down armrest with cup holders - plus that middle section of the seat can fold down as a ski port, too. 

Rear seat passengers get a set of directional air vents. Rear seat passengers get a set of directional air vents.

The boot space in this version of the T-Roc is also better than the AWD Sport model, as there’s no driving hardware under the boot floor. In this grade you get - according to VW - class-leading cargo capacity, with 445 litres of boot space on offer with the seats up, and 1290L with the rear seats folded down. That’s when you drop the boot floor section down to its lowest spot, and you still get a space-saver spare under there, too. How does that compare to the 140TSI? It has 392L and 1237L respectively.

  • With the rear seats in place, boot space is rated at 445 litres. With the rear seats in place, boot space is rated at 445 litres.
  • With the boot floor lowered, the T-Roc could fit all three CarsGuide suitcases. With the boot floor lowered, the T-Roc could fit all three CarsGuide suitcases.
  • Under the boot floor is a space-saver spare. Under the boot floor is a space-saver spare.

We managed to fit in the three CarsGuide suitcases - 124L, 95L and 36L - with room to spare, but only when the boot floor was lowered. But seriously, you’d only raise it if you need to load something long in there, flat over the rear seat backs.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

Under the bonnet of the T-Roc 110TSI you won’t find one-hundred-and-ten TSIs, whatever they might look like.

But you will find a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine, and the 110 part of the name refers to its peak power output. It churns 110kW of power at 5000rpm, and 250Nm of torque from 1500-4000rpm.

It’s that latter figure that really matters, here. That’s more torque than any of this small SUV’s front-wheel drive competitors, and it’s a perky little thing that can help the 110TSI sprint from 0-100km/h in 8.7 seconds. The stipulation around 2WD rivals is important, as the Hyundai Kona and Kia Seltos turbo AWD models have 265Nm.

The1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder produces 110kW/250Nm. The1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder produces 110kW/250Nm.

And, interestingly, this version of the 110TSI engine is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Until now, VW Australia has run seven-speed dual-clutch autos with the 1.4T engine, but this one gets a conventional torque convertor. It makes for a good drive experience - more on that below.

As mentioned, this version of the T-Roc is front-wheel drive (FWD or 2WD), but if you want all-wheel drive (AWD / 4WD) you will need to spend extra and buy the $40K-plus 140TSI Sport.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

The official combined cycle fuel consumption for the 110TSI Style model is 6.2 litres per 100 kilometres. Emissions are claimed at 142g/km CO2. The engine has start-stop technology to save fuel in traffic.

How does that compare to our real-world driving figures? At the pump - after a mix of urban, highway and open road driving, we saw a fuel consumption average of 8.2L/100km. I think that’s a respectable outcome, though not quite as good as the trip computer was stating - it read 7.5L/100km.

The fuel tank capacity is 50 litres, and the engine requires 95RON premium unleaded petrol.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The T-Roc, oddly, has a 2017 date stamp on its five-star ANCAP safety rating, despite only going on sale here in 2020.

Standard safety equipment fitted to the T-Roc includes auto emergency braking (AEB) that operates from 5km/h to 150km/h and incorporates pedestrian detection (5km/h to 65km/h), lane departure warning and lane keeping assist (at speeds above 65km/h), adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

The T-Roc has a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, Park Assist tech to semi-autonomously park the car for you, plus there are six airbags fitted (dual front, front side, full length curtain). 

The T-Roc features a reversing camera with front and rear parking sensors. The T-Roc features a reversing camera with front and rear parking sensors.

The T-Roc also has auto high beam lights, auto lights and wipers, and driver fatigue detection.

Missing from the T-Roc but available in other competitors: cyclist detection, rear AEB, a head-up display, and speed sign recognition. So the 110TSI Style offers good safety spec and tech for the class, but it’s not setting any new benchmarks.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Volkswagen T-Roc models come with the now-industry-standard five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan, and there’s a year of free roadside assistance included, too.

The brand has a pay-as-you-go capped price servicing plan available, or you can prepay your services for the first three years/45,000km ($1300) or five years/75,000km ($2100), which the brand says saves you hundreds of bucks and means you can roll that upfront cost into your finance payments.

As you may have guessed, service intervals are every 12 months/15,000km, but even so, the maintenance costs are high compared to some rivals.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

It’s not the sportiest drive in the small SUV space, but it’s not trying to be - and that’s totally fine, if you ask me. But it does enough to appease the majority of buyers who want a bit of grunt, while also offering a mostly comfortable experience for the driver and other occupants.

The 110TSI Style’s 1.4L turbo petrol engine is punchy and offers enough pulling power for most people’s needs – in fact, it probably proffers more than what most people need. And that comes down to the torque that’s available, plus the way the engine revs - cleanly from low in the rev range, with a linear nature to it that non-turbo engines just can’t match.  

If you’ve read many of our other reviews on VW models with DSG dual-clutch automatic transmissions, you’ll probably know they can be a little twitchy and lurchy in low speed driving, while at higher speeds you can hardly tell they’re working away diligently.

There's a slight sharpness to the ride over shop edged bumps. There's a slight sharpness to the ride over shop edged bumps.

But the T-Roc 110TSI doesn’t have a DSG - it gets an eight-speed automatic transmission, which is definitely geared for efficiency and has a tendency to upshift a little too early in a lot of situations. While the standing starts, reverse parks and urban traffic snarls are dealt with very easily by this transmission, the upshifting is a little too eager as speeds rise - you can set off from a standing start and, before you know it, the little indicator on the dash tells you the car is in sixth gear, and you’re only doing 55km/h.

If you’re just going around town and flat surfaces that won’t be too much of an issue, it’s when you start to encounter any hills or if you’re at highway speeds that you might find the transmission’s overactivity a little annoying. But it is still smooth and smart in the way that shifts, it’s just a little busier than you might think it should be. I found shifting it to S/sport mode in the transmission made it hold gears as long as I’d like, and while that will probably have a slight fuel use penalty, the drivability is improved.  

If you’re an urban commuter or have a young family and you do a lot of jump-in-and-go style driving, I still I think this eight-speed auto will prove more amenable in low speed driving, and certainly more city friendly than a dual-clutch because it doesn’t require any thought when you’re taking off from a standstill or parking at the shops. I even used the auto parking system down the street at the shops, and it was a far less nerve-wracking experience as you don’t have to factor in the twin clutches and any lurchiness they may offer.

The 110TSI Style’s 1.4L turbo petrol engine is punchy. The 110TSI Style’s 1.4L turbo petrol engine is punchy.

The T-Roc’s steering is excellent, and as you would expect from a Volkswagen it’s light, accurate and direct. It offers a bit of feedback through the wheel as well.

Traction in the wet is often an issue for front-wheel drive vehicles with this much torque, but it’s never to an annoying or unsafe degree in the T-Roc 110. Some rivals do offer more axle tramp (where the front wheels bounce up and down as the tyre tries to get traction); this one is nicely resolved. 

The suspension - Macpherson front suspension and torsion beam with coil springs at the rear - is mostly very good, with a good balance to the chassis and it handles corners really nicely, although as mentioned in the video, there can be a slight sharpness to the ride over shop edged bumps. That’s the price you pay for 18 inch wheels with low-profile tyres.

But the T-Roc 110TSI has an eight-speed automatic transmission, which is definitely geared for efficiency. But the T-Roc 110TSI has an eight-speed automatic transmission, which is definitely geared for efficiency.

It is a very quiet car, offering little road noise on coarse-chip surfaces for a car running these size rims, and it is very refined generally. The engine stop-start system works decently - it’s not annoying like it is in versions of Volkswagens with a turbo engine and a dual-clutch transmission. 

Overall it’s a very impressive drive experience – not the sportiest small SUV out there, sure. There aren’t even drive modes to choose from, and no paddle-shifters, either. But if you want a sportier small VW SUV then you need to buy the 140TSI Sport - but for 90 per cent of buyers this is going to be better than adequate. 

Verdict

There is no denying the importance of the VW T-Roc 110TSI Style for the brand. It’s the right size car for a lot of in-market customers, with the right looks, a decent price and equipment list, relatively good safety specs, and - finally - without the urban quibbles of a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The company reckons this could be its big seller in the T-Roc range - and it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s the brand’s new best-selling model and variant overall. It’s an impressive, well rounded, and nice to drive small SUV. 

Pricing guides

$38,490
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$33,990
Highest Price
$42,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
110TSI 1.4L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $33,990 2021 Volkswagen T-ROC 2021 110TSI Pricing and Specs
140TSI Sport 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $40,490 2021 Volkswagen T-ROC 2021 140TSI Sport Pricing and Specs
X Special Edition 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $42,990 2021 Volkswagen T-ROC 2021 X Special Edition Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Price and features8
Design8
Practicality8
Engine & trans9
Fuel consumption8
Safety8
Ownership7
Driving8
Matt Campbell
Senior Editor

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