2023 Volkswagen T-Roc R Review

By Alexi Falson on 11 Sep 2023
image for 2023 Volkswagen T-Roc R Review
Overall Rating
out of 10
  • Impressive acceleration and cornering abilities
  • Attractive and practical interior design
  • Value proposition compared to direct European rivals
  • Steering lacks engaging feedback
  • Stiff ride on rough roads
  • Dual-clutch transmission can lurch at low speeds
    • 55L
    • 182
    • 5300 / 2000
    • 5 star
    • Automatic
With buyers moving toward compact SUVs like the T-Roc more than ever, buyers are looking for a small SUV package that offers some driving thrills.

That’s where the Volkswagen T-Roc R steps into the picture, sitting at the top of the T-Roc lineup as the performance flagship.

Just how well does the VW T-Roc R perform as an exciting small SUV package, and has the pursuit of speed made it less accessible on a daily drive? Let’s take a closer look to find out.

Volkswagen T-Roc R Competition 

Volkswagen T-Roc R

Audi SQ2
BMW X1 M35i
Cupra Formentor VZx
MINI Countryman JCW
Hyundai Kona N

Starting Price: $61,990

OnlineAuto Savings: Enquire now

How Much Does It Cost?

The Volkswagen T-Roc R wears a retail price tag of $61,990, which does not include on-road costs.

Options like the Black Style package add $1,200 to the price, while a panoramic sunroof adds $2,000 and an upgraded Beats sound system adds $900 to the price tag.

How Much Can OnlineAuto Save You?

You could save money by using one of OnlineAuto’s car agents to assist you in finding the best car for you. As one of the leading car buying services in Australia, our team have access to a range of dealerships across the country to help find you the best deal.

Volkswagen T-Roc (R) Specifications

Model Date 2023
Model T-ROC
Series D1 MY23 UPDATE
Variant R
Transmission 7 SP AUTO DIR SHIFT
Drive AWD
Engine TDFI
Engine capacity 1984
Engine configuration DUAL OVERHEAD CAM / 16 valves
Engine RPM 5300 / 2000
Cylinders T4
Torque 400
KW 221
Fuel tank size 55.0
Fuel usage specs 8.0 / 0
CO2 182
ANCAP security rating 5

What Features Does the Volkswagen T-Roc R Have?

Sitting at the top of the T-Roc range, the T-Roc R picks up a fully-loaded features list.

It comes riding on a set of 19-inch alloys and receives IQ.Light matrix LED headlights with a set of dynamic indicators, adaptive suspension and Nappa leather upholstery with a heated steering wheel and seats, atop features you’ll find in lesser variants.

This includes a 9.2-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, adaptive cruise control, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, a powered boot lift, keyless entry, ambient lighting, wireless charging and a generous list of safety equipment we’ll cover later in the review.

2023 volkswagen t-roc r interior

Volkswagen T-Roc R Range Features:

      • 19-inch alloys

      • Matrix LED headlights 

      • Dynamic indicators with LED tail lights 

      • Nappa leather upholstery with heated front seats 

      • Heated steering wheel 

      • Powered boot lift 

      • Adaptive suspension 

      • 9.2-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto 

      • 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster 

      • Adaptive cruise control

      • Keyless entry & start 

      • Ambient lighting 

      • Wireless smartphone charging 

Is the Volkswagen T-Roc R Fun to Drive?

Considering how much power the T-Roc R comes packing, it’s chalk and cheese when comparing it to the base model.

With the help of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder with paired with a mighty turbocharger, the T-Roc R produces 221kW of power and 400Nm of torque, figures that put some of the fiercest hot hatches on the market to shame.

The end result is a 0-100km/h sprint in just 4.9 seconds - nearly half the time of the entry-level T-Roc which makes it way to 100km/h in 8.7 seconds.

Upgrades over the standard T-Roc include a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, adaptive dampers and an all-wheel drive system that helps to make the power more accessible to all levels of drivers.

“Pocket-rocket small SUV- so much fun to drive and a great alternative to hot hatches.” Arnaud, OnlineAuto vehicle specialist.

When put to the test, the T-Roc very much delivers thrills while cornering, with the stiffer platform over the standard T-Roc making it more adept in high-speed corners.

While it sits higher than your traditional hot hatch, the T-Roc R’s AWD system does well to stay planted to the ground, though fans of the purist driving position will probably want to be seated lower to the ground.

2023 volkswagen t-roc r off-road

Acceleration off the line is relentless, with a fruity note coming from the sports exhaust system complete with pops and crackles.

The impressive handling has, however, come at the cost of the ride quality on some rough country roads, though overall it’s an impressive package.

Around town, the steering remains particularly lightweight and user-friendly, though we wish there was more in the way of feedback as you’re pushing through high-speed bends.

Is it Fuel Efficient?

While the base model T-Roc sips a very respectable 6.3L/100km on a combined cycle, VW’s pursuit of speed and performance has made the T-Roc R far less efficient.

On a combined cycle, the T-Roc R is rated at 8.0L/100km, with premium 98-octane fuel required.

Is it Practical and Spacious?

Volkswagen’s hardcore treatment for the T-Roc R, thankfully, hasn’t made it any less practical than the standard car - though it’s worth reminding yourself from the outset that this is a small SUV package.

As a result, it can’t keep up with the needs of a growing family in the way a midsize SUV can, though for certain buyers, like couples with a single baby in tow - it might be the perfect option.

Up front, the cabin receives a heap of special touches that reflect its position at the top of the T-Roc food chain, with the driver and front passenger treated to Nappa leather upholstery, heated seats and an upgraded 9.2-inch infotainment display.

There’s no issues in terms of headroom for tall drivers up front, with the adjustable driving position making the T-Roc R approachable for all shapes and sizes.

The premium design is matched with some plush touchpoints, high-definition displays and a very appealing design which means you won’t be left feeling short-changed, while the layout is familiar to the base model that offers a few storage options up front.

“I love the look but can’t see the practicality on this one; maybe something for the boy-racer who has his first baby on the way so needs more room than his Golf provides.” Glynn, OnlineAuto vehicle specialist.

Move to the rear and things start getting a little cramped, though the T-Roc is actually one of the more spacious compact SUVs you’ll find on the market.

There’s enough room in the second row of the T-Roc to accommodate adults, and while legroom can be a little cramped for tall rear passengers, thankfully there’s no sloping roofline design that hinders headroom and makes passengers feel claustrophobic.

Amenities in the second row include a set of air vents, USB chargers, sizable door bins and a folding armrest with cup holders, as well as a pair of ISOFIX anchors and top tether mounts for child seats.

2023 volkswagen t-roc r rear

Boot space figures for the VW T-Roc R stand at 392L, which isn’t exceptional, though cargo space expands to 1237L with the rear seats folded. If boot space is a major consideration, front-wheel drive variants of the T-Roc increase cargo figures up to 445L.

Is it Safe?

The Volkswagen T-Roc R has received ANCAP’s maximum five-star safety rating, scoring 96% for adult protection, 87% for child protection, 79% for pedestrian protection and 71% for safety assist.

It comes fully loaded with safety tech, with blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alerts, collision warnings, autonomous emergency braking, lane centring, a rear-view camera with front and rear parking sensors, lane-departure alerts and six airbags fitted as standard.

Our Verdict: Is The Volkswagen T-Roc R Worth it?

If you’re a fan of the T-Roc an looking for the fastest-possible take on the platform, look no further than the T-Roc R which does not disappoint in terms of straight-line speed.

Volkswagen has done a great job in making sure the added speed hasn’t isolated everyday drivers on a commute, making it a more versatile package than you might expect - though the added pace has come at quite the price premium over lesser models.

If you’re looking for a more affordable take on the T-Roc R, opt for the R Grid Edition which comes packing the same engine, less equipment and is priced $5000 less than the flagship.

2023 volkswagen t-roc r headlights

Lost in your search for a new car? Reach out to one of our automotive specialists who can help give you some inspiration, and find your dream car at the best possible price.

Five Specs You Need to Know

      1. Five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty 

      2. 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder produces 221kW/400Nm 

      3. 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds (down from 8.7 seconds in standard T-Roc) 

      4. 392L boot space (445L in standard T-Roc) 

      5. Five-star ANCAP safety rating 


Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

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