Volkswagen's new T-Roc rides on the MQB chassis given some fine tuning via Porsche expertise. A 220kW-plus engine is expected for a very high performance R version (all images: Volkswagen).

What we're driving: Volkswagen T-Roc

Karsten Schebsdat’s surname may be difficult to pronounce, but the ace Volkswagen chassis engineer's contribution to the T-Roc was evident the moment I entered the first corner in the new crossover.

Sampled with front-wheel drive in low ambient temperatures on slippery U.K. roads, the T-Roc felt absolutely secure. Schebsdat, the chassis development chief formerly with Porsche, and his team have fine-tuned VW’s versatile MQB architecture to deliver a crisp-handling edge to the quality, 5-seat compact SUV.

T-Roc's emphasis is equally on engineering and distinctive style, the latter demonstrated via a range of color combinations which might give a (pleasant) shock to the more conservative buyers of Wolfsburg’s wares. As for the name, the T signifies its link to other VW SUVs; Roc is short for “rock”, say VW executives.

Built on a 2590-mm (116-in) wheelbase and measuring 4234-mm (167-in) long overall, T-Roc is 252 mm (9.9-in) shorter than the Tiguan. Five gasoline and five diesel engines are available, coupled with slick-shifting 6-speed manual or efficient 7-speed DSG gearboxes. The gas 2.0-L rated at 140 kW (188 hp) accelerates to 100 kph in 7.2 s.

The 85-kW (114-hp) 3-cylinder turbodiesel delivers characterful sound and chirpy performance, the T-Roc handling and riding particularly well in this form on 17-in wheels.

Sport suspension, 3-mode electronic Dynamic Chassis Control, and 4MOTION Active Control AWD are available, depending on version. Luggage space (maximum 445 L) is good. The VW Group’s interactive digital dashboard supports comprehensive connectivity.

The T-Roc won’t likely get stuck in a hard place of the market. It's expected to sell strongly, although VW has not confirmed that it will join the company’s range in the U.S.

2018 Volkwagen T-Roc

  • Base price:         No confirmed U.S. sales
  • Highs:                Fluid, secure handling; interesting drivetrain choices
  • Lows:                Unsure positioning for North American market
  • The takeaway:   Plenty of good engineering in this small package
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