December is a special period of the year, where people scatter in different directions, flocking to their holiday destinations, and others simply going home to their families. Of course, there are a few methods of travelling during this period. Some take to the skies and arrive in the shortest time possible, while the many South Africans simply opt for the more conventional way of travel and drive. I was one of these simpletons and chose for the scenic route. However, to do this one needs suitable wheels and the Volkswagen T-Roc was the first to raise its hand with enthusiasm when the task was presented.

This vehicle was launched locally towards the end of 2020 (what a crazy year) as a completely new model, so having it as a travel companion on the annual pilgrimage to the green pastures of KZN was somewhat of a novelty. Let’s call a spade what it is, the T-Roc is as a good-looking vehicle, an SUV but with compact proportions, and an edgy design. The unit in question was graciously fitted with optional 18-inch wheels for a sure-footed stance, and of course, aesthetics! Orange metallic in colour, the T-Roc looked as festive as one could be.

VW T-Roc in energetic orange

Powering this festive chariot was a 1.4-litre TSI engine, and although it may not sound like much, believe me, it’s adequate. You see, for long-distance travel people have a misconception that bigger is the better. Not necessarily. Yes, there is a 2.0 petrol variant of the T-Roc available but you’re not missing out on much with the 1.4. It’s jacked up and ready to go, and even on the open road, you won’t catch it slacking. 110kW and 250Nm are what the Germans were able to squeeze out of it, and these are sufficient figures. To make the long drive even easier was the optional adaptive cruise control, otherwise known as ACC in car circles. You simply select your desired pace, which in this case ranged between 100 km/h and 129 km/h. Set the distance you want to keep from the car in front of you, and the rest becomes a seamless flow of the T-Roc adapting to the correct pace and distance. As with most things, this system wasn’t without its imperfections. Whenever there was a vehicle ahead and on the right-hand lane, the Volkswagen would sense it as being directly ahead of me and reduce its speed to avoid a collision with the imaginary vehicle.  

VW T-Roc drivers side view

To keep tabs on the T-Roc’s vital signs I made use of the Active Info Display, which is VW’s clever instrument cluster. With this digital system, you’re able to decide what you want see on the cluster, ranging from your dials to the navigation map, and your media.  You can also combine these elements and have the exact info you need on display. This feature was particularly useful when fuel reserves began to run low, and the green valleys of KwaZulu-Natal were coming into view and beckoning. Here, the number one priority was to keep an eye on everything all at once – speed, consumption and range. 

When arriving in KZN the ocean and clean air reels you in, and with daylight still present, this was the perfect moment to unveil the VW’s panoramic glass roof to take it all in. Before this, it had been too hot to roll back the veil beneath the glass, and there couldn’t have been a better time than now. This is an optional feature in the T-Roc, but at that moment felt like a must-have. With 280km to spare from the 50-litre tank, it felt good to have covered the 600km trip and have change to spare. Had one planned the trip with more precision, the T-Roc’s detachable tow bar could have been put to good use for towing a second set of wheels to enjoy the tropical sun and sea breeze – the kind with two-wheels. 

How much is a VW T-Roc? Well for one similar to what we drove, the VW T-Roc 1.4 TSI Design, you’re looking at a reasonable asking price of R489 400 before all the additional extras.

2021 VW T-Roc 1.4 TSI specs:

Engine:            1.4 turbo

Power:            110 kW

Torque:           250 Nm

Boot capacity: 445-litres

Fuel consumption average (l/100km): 6.2

By Gugu Masuku