12 December 2022

SUVs like VW's new T-Roc might help with a very Aussie problem

| James Coleman
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2022 Volkswagen T-Roc R-Line.

The 2022 Volkswagen T-Roc R-Line, in the middle of the burnout pad at Exhibition Park in Canberra, far away from any trees… Photo: James Coleman.

Now summer has well and truly arrived, it’s time for a quick public service announcement.

After parking around trees, particularly of the gum variety, do not leave the car doors open any longer than necessary. Failure to do so may result in anything from a mild heart attack to a full-on car accident, for a very simple reason: huntsman spiders.

Few other things create panic like a large and hairy spider dropping from the sun visor into your lap mid-drive. Or, in my case, even when you’re safely parked in the car port at home and one is staring you down from the inside of the distant passenger-side window.

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I knew I’d only have one shot. If he disappeared into some nook and cranny, I would be left with no other choice than to turn a sparkling new ‘Reflex Silver’ Volkswagen T-Roc into his funeral pyre.

Fortunately, a bit of … um, cleaning later and the car remained intact. And that’s a relief because it’s a very good one.

You’re right to be confused by the German brand’s array of SUVs nowadays, not helped by the fact they all begin with “T”. After coming up with Touareg and Tiguan, VW was clearly a bit stuck and slapped a “T” in front of Cross and Roc for the latest compact crossover models.

To sum it up, the T-Cross is a jacked-up Polo and the T-Roc is a jacked-up Golf (and the better-looking one). The T-Roc scored a heavy facelift earlier this year, and the one I’m testing from the Gerald Slaven VW dealership in Belconnen is the R-Line model, not the same as the R model with its quad exhaust pipes and added blue bits.

I promise the rest is simple.

For starters, the seats are a magnificent blend of leather, suede and grey tartan-type cloth, but you have to adjust them yourself. And shut the boot yourself. There aren’t even blind-spot monitors on the mirrors as standard.

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Maybe this is a bit poor for something that starts at nearly $50K, but it goes to show how much VW is still struggling to get semi-conductors from China and wiring looms from Ukraine.

It still found enough to include touch controls on the steering wheel, climate-controlled air-conditioning and eight-inch infotainment screen though. The interior isn’t quite as button-less as the new Golf, and that’s a good thing. For instance, you still toggle a physical knob to switch between the different drive modes.

In a way, the T-Roc feels a bit old-fashioned. And even in R-Line spec, there’s no particularly cutting-edge stuff going on underneath. There’s a proper gear lever which connects to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, a 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine under the bonnet, and ‘4Motion’ all-wheel drive. All hallmarks of VW’s for years.

But this just means it ticks a lot of boxes for a lot of people.

The suspension is on the firm side and visibility has been partially sacrificed on the altar of handsome high-waist exterior design, but the T-Roc is very pleasantly behaved around town. The steering feels light but accurate and gathers weight the faster you go – exactly as it should be. Fuel economy isn’t bad either.

But because there are also Sport and Expert Offroad modes (as well as Snow, Comfort and standard Offroad), there’s extra competence dialled into the drivetrain for tackling anything from the burnout pad at Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC) to the dirt tracks in the Brindabella Mountains. It’s genuinely fun, and the exhaust even sounds it.

To top it off, it’s higher off the ground so you can easily slide your child or your aging vertebrae into it with ease.

And at this time of year, the faster you’re inside the car could spell the difference between a huntsman inside or out.

2022 Volkswagen T-Roc R-Line

  • $49,258 (plus driveaway costs)
  • 2-litre turbocharged TSI engine, 140 kW / 320 Nm
  • 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, AWD
  • 0-100 km/h in 7.2 seconds
  • 7.3 litres per 100 km (combined fuel usage)
  • 5-star ANCAP safety rating
  • Up to 6 months wait time

This car was provided for testing by Gerald Slaven Volkswagen. Region has no commercial arrangement with Gerald Slaven Volkswagen.

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