The company’s first SUV with a "GTI" badge?

Launched in 2017, the T-Roc is Volkswagen’s smallest crossover yet. Built on the MQB platform that underpins several Volkswagen Group vehicles, it’s related to the Audi Q2 and Seat Arona and competes against the likes of the Nissan Juke, Toyota C-HR, and Renault Captur. Ever since it arrived in showrooms, there have been rumors that Volkswagen may develop a GTI version of the mini SUV. Come 2018, and the beefed-up crossover was spotted testing on public roads.

Performance-oriented models are quite rare in this niche. Although the segment is populated by at least ten models from various companies in Europe, none of them are available with power upgrades. Nissan used to offer a Nismo version of the Juke, or even the extreme, GT-R-powered Juke-R, but these variants are no longer available. This means that the T-Roc GTI will be a unique model and will have the entire market to itself. At least for a while. Let’s find out what it may bring to the table in the speculative review below.

Volkswagen T-Roc GTI Exterior

  • Sporty front bumper
  • Red stripe on the grille
  • Extended side skirts
  • Black trim
  • Diffuser-like element
2019 Volkswagen T-Roc GTI
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The GTI upgrade will take things up a notch with updates similar to those seen on the Golf GTI

The closest thing to a GTI model available right now is the T-Roc R-Line, which has a slightly sportier appearance. The package adds horizontal slats to the bumper grille and splitter-like elements instead of the lower protection plate up front. It also sports black wheel arch extensions, body-colored side skirts, and new wheels.

The GTI upgrade will take things up a notch with updates similar to those seen on the Golf GTI. The upper section of the front fascia shouldn’t change much, but look for the trademark red stripe to run across the grille and the lower section of the headlamps. The grille should remain similar, but the honeycomb pattern will get a different look.

2019 Volkswagen T-Roc GTI
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Volkswagen will add a bigger spoiler on the tailgate, while the bumper plate will be replaced by a diffuser-like element

It’s the bumper that will help set the GTI apart. For starters, it will be taller and will help the crossover gain a more planted look. The fake vents mounted inside the rectangular LED daytime running lights should carry over, but the foglamps below will be removed for additional outlets with black inserts. The bumper intake will probably go larger, but it will also get a honeycomb mesh for a sportier look. The T-Roc will also get a proper splitter, most likely highlighted in red.

As usual, the profile won’t get too many changes outside the usual black window trim, side skirts extensions, the black trim. A "GTI" badge will be added on the front fenders, while the wheels will get a fancier, lightweight design. The vehicle in this rendering sports a black roof, but Volkswagen could offer more color options here.

Read end modifications are pretty obvious for a vehicle of this type. Volkswagen will add a bigger spoiler on the tailgate, while the bumper plate will be replaced by a diffuser-like element. Of course, a red "GTI" badge will further remind you that this isn’t a regular T-Roc. Finally, the crossover will sit a bit closer to the ground, an upgrade that will not only make it look sportier, but it should also give it better dynamics.

Volkswagen T-Roc GTI Interior

  • Red dashboard trim
  • Red paddle shifters
  • Sports seats
  • Unique upholstery
  • Premium features
  • Extra standard features
2018 Volkswagen T-Roc Interior High Resolution Wallpaper quality
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The standard seats will be replaced with sportier units with heavier bolstering and maybe even integrated headrests

The T-Roc’s interior may seem a bit cramped, but it’s as modern as they get when it comes to design and technology. It looks premium too, especially when you select the colored dash, door panel, and center console inserts. It’s not like Volkswagen can improve it by much, but the GTI package could bring a few interesting extras inside the cabin. For starters, I think that the colored inserts will be red as standard. Red has been the GTI’s traditional color since day one and Volkswagen will probably want to make use of it in this model too.

The paddle shifters behind the steering wheel should also be painted in red, while the steering wheel itself will get a more aggressive design with a flatter bottom. Red accents could be added here as well. The standard seats will be replaced with sportier units with heavier bolstering and maybe even integrated headrests. The stripe design on the center could carry over, with the stitching finished in red for a more cohesive look. Both the instrument cluster and the infotainment display should get custom start-up screens with "GTI" logo, while the speedo and rev counter will have red needles.

2018 Volkswagen T-Roc Interior High Resolution
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Cargo space should remain unchanged, and this is great news as the T-Roc offers a lot of luggage room given the size

Of course, there will be more tech than usual included as standard. For instance, while the base T-Roc comes with a 6.5-inch infotainment screen, the GTI will probably get the eight-inch unit. This one comes with a CD player, Discover Media, and a navigation system. The 11.7-inch instrument cluster will display a ton of info, including drivetrain information. phone apps, and a media library. Things like MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto will be standard as well. The inductive charging area could remain optional though.

Cargo space should remain unchanged, and this is great news as the T-Roc offers a lot of luggage room given the size. With the rear seats up, the mini SUV can swallow up to 15.71 cubic feet of luggage. Fold the rear passenger seats and the figure increases to a solid 45.55 cubic feet. Definitely enough for a vacation if you don’t have kids.

Volkswagen T-Roc GTI Performance

  • 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine
  • More than 200 horspower
  • 0 to 62 mph in less than 7 seconds
  • DSG automatic transmission
  • Standard 4Motion AWD
2019 Volkswagen T-Roc GTI
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Just like the Golf, the T-Roc should arrive with a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission and a 4Motion AWD system

With the standard T-Roc already using the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine available in the Golf, it’s pretty obvious that the GTI could also share its drivetrain with the hot-hatchback. The turbocharged four-pot in the Golf GTI cranks out 217 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque and could find its way in the T-Roc with similar figures.

As of this writing, the range-topping T-Roc benefits from 187 horses and 236 pound-feet, so a 30-horsepower and 20-pound-foot increase for the GTI would make sense. Volkswagen could even add the Performance Package, which current adds an extra ten horsepower to the Golf. As a result, the most powerful T-Roc yet could come with 227 horses on tap.

Just like the Golf, the T-Roc should arrive with a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission and a 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. As the most powerful version of the T-Roc, the GTI will also be the quickest. The 2.0 TSI model is already pretty fast needing 7.2 seconds to hit 62 mph, but the GTI will improve that benchmark with a sub-six-second time. Expect it to need only 5.8 clicks to get there.

Volkswagen T-Roc GTI Prices

2019 Volkswagen T-Roc GTI
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The T-Roc GTI will become the most expensive model in the lineup. The Golf GTI, for instance, is almost 20 percent more expensive than the Golf R-Line and the T-Roc should see a similar increase. With the R-Line crossover priced from £26,640, the T-Roc GTI could fetch at least £31,700 before options.

Should VW Go Wild and Make an R too?

2019 Volkswagen T-Roc GTI
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Under the hood, the R will get an even more powerful 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine

Word has it that Volkswagen is also planning an R version of the T-Roc. Actually, there are rumors that suggest VW may even skip the GTI and offer the R as the only performance model. The company’s plans are still a mystery, but some of the prototypes spotted on the road suggest that the Germans may also release a T-Roc R soon.

If this happens, it will get a slightly more aggressive exterior, with a bigger front bumper and grille, a chrome stripe in the radiator, bigger side skirts, and a bigger diffuser around back. In this rendering, the R is depicted in the trademark blue color seen on the Golf and features "R" badges on the front fenders and grey mirror caps as extra features. Naturally, it also rides on unique wheels and sits closer to the ground that the GTI.

Under the hood, the R will get an even more powerful 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The unit could be shared with the Cupra Ateca, which uses a 306-horsepower mill. The engine would mate to a bespoke seven-speed DSG and the mandatory 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. It won’t be as quick as the Golf R, but it will be quicker than the T-Roc GTI. I’d say that this SUV could hit 62 mph in less than six seconds. It will also be more expensive, likely to start from around £36,000.

Volkswagen T-Roc GTI Competition

The mini SUV market is pretty crowded in Europe, with at least 10 different vehicles to consider. However, with the Nissan Juke Nismo no longer available, there aren’t any actual competitor for the upcoming T-Roc GTI to look for. However, while the Opel Mokka X, Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur, Mazda CX-3, and the Toyota C-HR are significantly less powerful, the Nissan Juke and the Hyundai Kona come closer in the horsepower department.

Nissan Juke

2015 Nissan Juke High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Seven years old as of 2018, the Nissan Juke is getting a little long in a tooth, and it was already replaced by the Kicks in North America. The funky-looking crossover continues unchanged in Europe, and although it’s not yet clear whether it will get to live into a new generation, the mini SUV remains popular in several markets. While its looks are definitely unique, the Juke lacks the premium-like interior it needs to compete against the T-Roc. It’s also inferior when it comes to output, with the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine delivering n more than 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. On the flipside, the Juke is significantly more affordable, with the most expensive trim coming in at £21,495 before options.

Read our full review of the 2018 Nissan Juke.

Hyundai Kona

2018 Hyundai Kona Exterior High Resolution
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The Kona is a brand-new mini SUV that was launched in South Korea in 2017. Now available in Europe too, it’s based on the Hyundai i20, and it also shares underpinnings with the Kia Stonic. Also sporting a rather funky design compared to the Juke, it’s a better option against the T-Roc thanks to its modern interior and comprehensive tech package. However, much like the Juke, it doesn’t have a performance engine to tackle the GTI-spec VW. The most powerful unit is a turbocharged, 1.6-liter four-cylinder that delivers 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. Whether Hyundai’s N division will create a more powerful option remains unknown, but the Kona is a good option only if you’re not looking for more than 200 horsepower and a 0-to-62 mph sprint that takes less than seven seconds. The base Kona starts well below the £20,000 mark, but the Premium GT model retails from £26,810.

Read our full story on the 2018 Hyundai Kona.

Conclusion

2019 Volkswagen T-Roc GTI
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The T-Roc GTI has been rumored for quite a few months now, but Volkswagen has yet to confirm it officially. Truth be told, the Germans don’t really need such a model, since there’s no competition to steal their market, but the T-Roc GTI would give them a unique position in this niche. I’m actually quite surprised that Volkswagen has yet to expand the GTI badge beyond the Golf and the Polo, but I’m pretty sure this will happen very soon. And the T-Roc is a very likely candidate as it’s smaller and lighter than all the other SUVs.

  • Leave it
    • * A bit expensive
    • * Not yet confirmed

Further reading

2018 Volkswagen T-Roc Exterior High Resolution Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen T-Roc.

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Read more Volkswagen news.

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