All the engines are turbocharged, as you would expect from their TSI and TDI designations. Three are fuelled by petrol: a three-cylinder 1.0 with 113bhp, the VW Group's new 1.5 four-pot with 147bhp and a 2.0-litre with 187bhp. This last one is approximately a Golf GTI engine, as befits the T-Roc's stated role as the GTI of SUVs, but is tuned for a little less power. The diesels are a 113bhp 1.6-litre and a pair of 2.0-litre units with 147bhp or 187bhp. You'll notice that the quantities and gradations of power are identical for petrol and diesel. The two 187bhp engines come with four-wheel drive and seven-speed double-clutch transmissions as standard; the lesser 2.0 TDI has the four driven wheels but the DSG is optional.
Naturally, the full suite of mid-market safety systems is standard and the parking sensors – be their use merely as a warning or as part of a self-parking system – are cleverly hidden in the fake-mesh 'air vents' on the corners, with those at the front ringed in the LED-lit daytime running lights.
Inside, there's an odd disconnect between what you see and what you feel. Nearly every surface apart from the seats, the carpets and the rooflining is hard, albeit sophisticatedly textured, impeccably shaped and nicely fitted with perfect alignment and minimal gaps. It's very old-school to equate soft-touch surfaces - padding, even - with quality nowadays, we were told. Young buyers aren't worried by that at all; after all, an iPhone 8 isn't padded.
Those high sides and shallow windows make for a coccooning cabin, albeit one from which it is not easy to gauge the T-Roc's width in a tight spot, despite the clues given by those bonnet blades. You can raise the seating position and steering wheel, of course, but that spoils the sense of a sporting demeanour. And the T-Roc has plenty of that.
Our test cars were all top-model T-Roc Sports with the 2.0 TSI engine, worth about £34,000 when launched in the UK in December. That's some distance away from the likely £19,000 of the entry-level 1.0 TSI and is a larger spread of prices in both directions than a similar-sized Audi Q2. The choice of a petrol engine for these early test cars reflects both how the market is moving away from diesels and VW's desire to deflect attention away from the ghostly elephant that still stalks the conference room.
Let's get one thing clear straight away. In this top form, at least, the T-Roc is a great thing to drive. Its variable-ratio steering (its repsonse speeds up towards extremes of lock) makes it engagingly agile on tight, twisting roads. It has tenacious grip, as it should have on tyres as large as 225/40 R19, and it gets its power down brilliantly as you accelerate out of an uphill bend and the torque briefly heads rearwards.
The structure feels extremely rigid, allowing the suspension to be acceptably supple without any shudder. There are three damper modes, but you'd seldom want Sport other than to make a point or Comfort except at low speeds on rough surfaces to soak up the serrations. Normal is the one, contributing to a dynamic togetherness, a tidiness through twists, that is not expected in what is essentially an SUV. A GTI of SUVs, indeed, especially in Sport guise with red brake calipers.
The engine is its familiar smooth, torquey self, with virtually no turbo lag, and the DSG gearbox's automatic mode is both smooth of shift and psychic in its ability to be in the right gear. There's a Sport mode here, too, but it just makes the engine hyperactive to no real gain. Small paddles behind the steering wheel trigger manual shifts but, again, there's little point. With the 4motion four-wheel drive comes selectable modes for different surfaces and a hill-descent control. Not so welcome is the electric parking brake, which makes close-quarters manoeuvring on a rocky hillside harder than it needs to be.
As for space, there's enough for a young family or a second couple and a decent-sized boot entered via a powered tailgate. The T-Roc is good fun to drive and practical with it.