We all expect a lot from our cars. Whether
it is a tiny hatchback or a full-fledged SUV, we want our cars to take us to
the moon and back, all that in absolute comfort and without spending a dime. I
mean, we expect it to lug our massive suitcases, seat our large family of
oversized people comfortably, fly over potholed roads and give us a fuel
efficiency that borders on absurdity. We want it all.
Thus, when we got our hands on the
Volkswagen T-Roc SUV, we could not think of any other destination but the mountains.
Manali and Rohtang Pass came to our mind, as the car was to be picked up from
I was excited to put this chassis and
powertrain to test through some tough terrains, en route Delhi to Manali. I packed
my bags, fuelled up the car, stuffed my wallet and left from Delhi at dawn!
A first glance at the T-Roc would have you a
bit confused. It’s not a hatchback, but a sub-compact crossover that falls
under the mid-size SUV segment and is unlike any other VW you’ve seen. The
modern design strikes you the moment you see it. You may just think it looks a
bit funky. Everything on the T-Roc looks so precisely designed and fixed. The big
headlamps go so well with the grille. The lines extend all the way from the
front to the rear. The slight slope on the black roof and flared wheel arches
with the cladding add a sporty and ‘capable’ touch to the stance of the T-Roc.
Above all these bits, what I personally
loved about the exteriors were the sexy DRLs on the bumper and the very Kool
looking Kurkuma Yellow colour, which surely stands out. There was plenty of
proof for that! The moment we drove out of Delhi, I saw young lads from the
north Indian Jat land rolling down the tinted windows of their cars to get a
better look of the T-Roc.
My T-Roc and I loved the attention we were
getting as we overtook cars on the National Highway.
But it’s not just the exteriors of the T-Roc
that are exciting. Even the interiors are Rocking. The interiors are plush and
familiar. If you have sat in a Tiguan All-Space from Volkswagen you would
realise that a few things here and there in the T-Roc have been picked up from
it. The touchscreen infotainment system, the air-conditioning controls, the
steering wheel and gear selector are all borrowed from the All-Space. Even the
instrument cluster has been borrowed from the All-Space but with reworked dials,
probably to suit the T-Roc better
The infotainment system is functional and
can handle both Apple and Android phones seamlessly. Even more so, the
6-speakers have a rather crisp sound output with minimal jarring at high
volume. It’s got a two-zone aircon, heated seats, a big sunroof and loads of
cubby holes to store your bottles and gadgets for a road trip. Not to mention,
the cockpit is very pleasing with subtle silver elements and soft-touch
elements on the dash. The cushioning on front and rear seats are comfortable.
The front seats manage to hold you in place. The boot, with 445-litres was more
than enough for my somewhat small trolley and camera bags, although it could
still fit a lot more luggage. I can gladly say that this is a suitable car for
a road trip, though I feel that the rear seats do not provide adequate leg and
knee room. It could have been better.
As we made our way towards the hills and
mountains, it was time to test powertrain. Can it handle all this somewhat
non-stop pestering? Can the chassis, suspension and tyres take the brunt of bad
roads? As we ran out of smooth tarmac, we encountered roads that had been dug
up, two-lane highways with unmarked diversions, deep potholes and what not.
The T-Roc has a 1.5-litre TSI turbocharged
petrol motor that chugged along happily with its 7-speed DSG swiftly changing
through the gears. It knew exactly when I wanted to put the power down and how
much. Foot down for overtaking long trucks and the DSG would shift down and the
TSI motor would send all its 148bhp and 250Nm to the front wheels with only a
dash of torque steer.
There was nothing that couldn’t have been
managed with the T-Roc. Bad roads? No problem, the chassis and suspension took
the brunt and inside the cabin it was a different world. Want to cruise at high
speeds? The stability at triple digit speeds was amazing. Need to go faster?
The powertrain was a lethal combination, with on-demand power delivery and the 215
section wide tyres helping with immense grip across all surfaces. Well, of course
not the slush. No worries about safety either, as the T-Roc gets 6-airbags,
collision mitigation warning (needs to be tweaked better for Indian traffic)
and what I consider the safest of them all, disc brakes all around.
It was only after we crossed Bilaspur that
we started venturing onto unpredictable terrain. We said goodbye to straight
highways and welcomed winding ghats which we were so eagerly looking forward to.
What we were not expecting was a 3-hour delay thanks to an accident and a
political rally in the area. Well, at least the Android Auto and the aircon
kept us comfortable, and the auto-hold function made mountain side traffic jams
an easy affair.
After the big delay, we charged on for
Manali. The T-Roc had been giving great mileage on the highways and downhill
(Thanks to the Active Cylinder Tech), but the uphill sections had forced it to
chug on petrol. Hence we were forced to make a quick fuel stop at Swarghat in
Himachal (to avoid fuelling up early morning) and we were back on the road. The
sun had already retired for the night and we were stuck in a situation we tried
to avoid. Though we were driving through the dark night on winding roads with
run offs that lead straight to heaven (or hell), the projector headlamps were
thankfully bright enough to light up the roads. The steering was precise and
quickly got me into the groove of the winding roads. The 250Nm of torque from
the turbocharged motor helped us push through some steep inclines and the
brakes showed no sign of fading even with the constant late dive-ins into scary
corners. Best of all, the 160mm ground clearance was enough in case I missed to
see any rocks or speed breakers in my way.
Just as I started treating the roads like a
karting track, traffic from the other end started pouring in on narrow roads
with barely any barriers or tarmac. Roads like these went on for more than 60km
with Google Maps making a fuss about the time we would take to get there. That
was fine, as I was getting somewhat used to driving the T-Roc. The whole
combination of rigid chassis, the powertrain, the precise steering, suspension
and brakes instilled confidence as I drove.
It was a relief to reach Manali during the
night, as I had never travelled to Manali via this route (It had always been
the other way around via Kaza). We rested for the night and left again next
morning to get the feel of Rohtang’s Curves. It was easy to get there as we had
bypassed the old route and headed towards the Atal Tunnel, which at 9.02km is
the world’[s longest tunnel above 10,000ft. Manali to Khoksar took only an hour
max. With the Pass closed, we had no other option but to soak in the beautiful snow-capped
peaks alongside the winding roads and leave Rohtang Pass for another day.
This trip to the mountains was a much needed
getaway and the SUVW (Sport Utility VolksWagen) made it even better and relaxing.
The DSG didn’t make my left calves work, the steering didn’t pump my arms and
the ride was plush enough for a drive like this. We wrapped up 550km in 16
hours with the last 3 hours being in pitch darkness. However, the T-Roc made it
an easy affair, with no errors or troubles en-route. So the next time you want
to take a trip to the mountains, try not to beat your head around which 4x4 you
will need. With the T-Roc, it’s highly unlikely that you would get stuck
anywhere unless you go out of your way to find trouble. Or better, get yourself
an SUVW like the T-Roc. It is reliable and ever-so capable. Just don’t treat it
like a 4x4.
/ 1819 / 1573
tank capacity approx. (litres)
Turbocharged petrol / 1498cc
4/4 per cylinder
FRONT: Independent with coil
REAR: Twist beam axle with
separate spring & shock absorber
FRONT: Disc Brake
REAR: Disc Brake
17” Alloy Wheels
(Front 215/55 R17, Rear 215/55 R17)
experienced this drive in the early months of 2021)