Even in VW's well-behaved range, the T-Roc hardly goes through as a freaky rocker, but rather as an adventurous, not-so-good. Now, after four years, they've whipped it up and it's taking on the Audi Q2 right away.
Well, since life is supposed to be full of them, the surprises are now very discreet. Because what VW presents with a big Tschingderassabum as the "new T-Roc" is limited to a small model refreshment. Whereby we, who are also writing, want to pay tribute to the VW press department for all the literary tricks with which it was possible to roll out the insignificance of the changes on five DIN A4 pages. Finally, the innovations culminate in the fact that the T-Roc – as we already had with the Polo and Taigo – now has LED headlights as standard and can be equipped with non-dazzling matrix light and the partially autonomous Travel Assist lane and speed guidance. The press office then praised the infotainment, which was upgraded with online voice control, and the digital instruments that were always installed, to find a spectacular conclusion in the naming of five new paint colors.
But even after four years of construction, there was probably simply no reason to change anything fundamental about the T-Roc, which managed to push past the Golf in the registration statistics at the end of 2021. But is that enough to take on Audi's Q2? Let's clarify in the test of the two that compete with a 1,500 turbo petrol engine, front-wheel drive and a seven-speed double clutch box and would probably like to cause one or the other surprise.
It's so boldly green
By the way, the Q2 demonstrated the five new colors during the facelift in October 2020. The few other changes back then are similar to those on the T-Roc today: LED series, matrix LED optional, digital instruments, a bit of design chichi on the front and lights, done.
Because of course there were no changes to the foundation, the modular transverse matrix. VW uses its advantages in space efficiency with hardly more lavish dimensions better - from front to back. So its standard trunk packs ten percent more. The volume can be varied from 445 to 1,290 l with the two-part folding backrest (including hatch), luggage can be loaded more easily thanks to the wider flap and loaded through with the intermediate floor raised.
Rear passengers don't have more leg room than in the Q2 - the VW Taigo manages three centimeters more on the smaller, even more space-efficient MQB A0 modular system. But with an interior width of 8.5 centimeters, the passengers on the comfortably padded rear seat travel much more freely than in the narrow Q2 rear. At the front, the T-Roc spreads out a not inconsiderable four centimeters. So the pilot and co. sit unrestricted, with a good view – not only in terms of the all-round view, but also the ambience.
While it was previously characterized by hard plastic paneled rusticity, there is now at least an attempt to approach the former level of quality again - but without achieving the material and solidity quality of the Q2. If the Audi can already keep the VW at a distance in this area by simply remaining high quality, it can also only extend its lead in operation by simply staying the same. Because now the T-Roc also organizes many functions - including air conditioning and assistance - no longer with real buttons, but via the touchscreen or touch-sensitive, feedback-free buttons. Some of them react with a delay or – like the control surfaces on the steering wheel spokes – so sensitively that they respond to accidental touches.
Dealing with the Q2 is also not entirely free of circumstances. With the rotary pusher surrounded by top-menu rockers and sub-menu buttons, you sometimes twist deep into the structure. And yet you can cope with the old Audi system faster and with fewer distractions than with VW's new one.
It's a bit more difficult to come to terms with the tighter space available in the Audi. While the driver and front passenger may gloss over the narrower cockpit as a contribution to the homely, yet not too obtrusive closeness, the Q2 causes distress for passengers on the steep-leaning rear seat. And the trunk with the three-piece folding backrest and the height-adjustable intermediate floor can be used in a day-to-day manner - it's just small.
One size, two formats
Now you don't want to need the additional space of the VW. But although the two cars differ so little in size and weight, the VW also shows a higher format when driving. This is revealed in terms of comfort in the wider, more comfortable ergo seats, but also in the chassis tuning. Although the R-Line is dynamic and equipped with optional 19-inch wheels (490 euros), its chassis with adaptive dampers (1,045 euros) responds more cautiously in the comfort characteristic. It is unimpressed by even short, severe impacts, but still keeps the oscillation after long waves and in curves tightly under control.
Sure, "Sport" is going to be awesome, but the gently tightened normal mode is enough even for lively outings in the country. The T-Roc does not yet start to hop, but has already intensified the precision and feedback of its variably translated progressive steering through the reduced power assistance. It corners agilely and quickly, and yet almost unwaveringly confidently around corners, staying neutral for a long time until it gently nudges into understeer - just as safely and predictably as it should be with such a car.
The Q2 manages all of this almost as well, as it seems more jittery and harsh.With its progressive steering, which is also standard, it also steers precisely, reports back suitably pre-filtered, and corners neutrally for a long time. However, it does not quite achieve the sovereignty that characterizes the dynamics of the VW so much. There is always a slight restlessness in the structure or steering. In addition, the optional 19-inch wheels and the firmer, here adaptively damped (1,320 euros in the dynamic package Plus) chassis do not get along so smoothly with each other. The Q2 rolls harsher, responds harsher to short bumps even in comfort mode - but without all of this leading to more nimble agility. When it comes to deceleration, however, the Q2 outperforms the T-Roc - which is more relevant in everyday life than best times in slalom or lane changes.
There are no significant differences in the driving performance. The faster acceleration of the VW is as irrelevant as the higher top speed of the Audi. Also in the test consumption, 7.2 (T-Roc) to 7.5 l/100 km (Q2), both are as close as one can expect with the same drive. The urgent and harmonious combination of 1.5-liter turbo petrol engine and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission ensures that. The four-cylinder starts off homogeneously and powerfully after a brief hesitation. With a gentle load, it turns off the middle cylinders between 1,500 and 3,500 rpm. This increases efficiency, as does the hasty, accurate transmission that idles when coasting.
The fact that the engine in the Audi sounds more robust and less cultivated is due to the better noise insulation of the VW. Like the well-functioning and broader assistance department, this contributes to the fact that the T-Roc is one of the cars whose qualities exceed the format of its class. If you don't need the space of a larger car, you won't find anything that really important things could be missing in this compact car, even after long pondering.
Although VW has increased the prices for the T-Roc, the more extensive equipment (LED headlights, digital instruments) compensates for this. Adjusted for equipment, the VW therefore costs almost 5,700 euros less than the Audi. So in the end we hope that life will surprise you, dear reader, elsewhere today. Because the victory of the VW should probably not be.
More space, comfort, driving pleasure and equipment with a little less consumption? Well, neither the slightly worse braking deceleration can prevent victory nor the Audi.
Because apart from more intuitive operation and more valuable materials, the narrower, less efficient and not so gallantly bouncy Q2 does not offer any major advantages over the VW.