By Alexandra Lawrence, carsales.com.au
The Volkswagen T-Roc has been a blockbuster hit for the German car maker in Australia. Essentially a high-riding version of the VW Golf, the T-Roc has overtaken the Tiguan mid-sized SUV as the company’s most popular model on the strength of its value, versatility and well… Volkswagen-ness.
Riding on a wave of its success, Volkswagen has moved the existing models a little further upmarket (and increased prices) to make way for a new (albeit temporary) entry-level CityLife model that we’re testing here.
Limited time only
For the remainder of 2023, VW Group Australia will offer national drive-away pricing for its top-selling Volkswagen T-Roc compact SUV.
As such, the new 2023 Volkswagen T-Roc CityLife will be on sale into early 2024 as a special-edition model designed to combat supply issues and potentially distract buyers from higher pricing across the remainder of the range.
Priced from $35,990 plus on-road costs – or $36,990 drive-away – the CityLife slots in below the 110TSI Style, which will resume its entry-level status when the CityLife has run its course.
The 110TSI Style is now priced from $38,890 plus ORCs ($41,990 drive-away), while further up the line the T-Roc 140TSI R-Line costs $47,090 plus ORCs ($51,990 d/a).
Meanwhile, the spicy T-Roc R hot SUV is priced from $61,990 plus ORCs ($64,990 d/a), but Volkswagen Australia announced recently that its T-Roc R Grid Edition – a cheaper alternative to the R but with the same performance bits – will no longer be offered.
The price is right
Don’t be distracted by the T-Roc’s movement across the range, as the CityLife arrives with a price to attract budget-conscious Australians while still being loaded with the latest tech and equipment.
It rides on smaller 17-inch alloy wheels (down one size compared to the T-Roc Style) and comes in five conservative colour options: Pure White, Ascot Grey, Deep Black, Iridium Grey and Petroleum Blue. Unlike other T-Roc variants with a two-tone colour scheme, the CityLife is only offered with a solid paint.
Other standard equipment includes LED daytime running lights (DRLs) and headlights, black roof rails, comfort front seats and dual-zone climate control with Air Care cleaning function.
The CityLife cabin also has black ‘Ceramique’ cloth upholstery, missing out on the microfleece inserts found on the Style.
Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit comes standard, along with an 8.0-inch central touchscreen. Four USB-C ports feature around the cabin, along with a six-speaker audio system and a wireless phone charging pad up front.
Volkswagen covers the entire T-Roc range with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, with services due every 12 months/15,000km, priced at $455, $695 and $442 over the first three years respectively.
What technology does the Volkswagen T-Roc CityLife feature?
Volkswagen hasn’t scrimped on features to create the new entry-level T-Roc CityLife.
Even though it’s the most affordable model yet, it comes with a generous list of standard equipment that won’t leave owners with a sense of FOMO.
That includes VW’s Digital Cockpit instrument cluster, which offers multiple display options and is easily customised via buttons on the steering wheel.
It is supplemented by an 8.0-inch touchscreen as the central display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, Bluetooth connectivity and digital radio. This, too, is easy to navigate, responsive to inputs and loaded with great high-res graphics.
The addition of Volkswagen’s latest piano black (and touch-sensitive) dual-zone climate control panel adds a touch of luxury to the CityLife and makes it feel more expensive.
The buttons are controlled through haptic touch, rather than push, and although the piano black panel is a serial fingerprint collector, we tend to prefer it over regular plastic buttons and switches.
Hide and seek
The high-tech screens are a great foil for what is otherwise a pretty drab cabin.
They steal the attention and make the CityLife feel like a classy small car. But look elsewhere and the interior of the T-Roc CityLife isn’t all that special.
The steering wheel is wrapped in soft leather-appointed trim, however the rest of the cabin is almost exclusively covered in black plastic.
The front seats are manually adjustable – offering a huge range of adjustability – but the cloth upholstery can feel scratchy on bare skin.
Longer drives might also leave you pining for more cushioning as the seat back and base aren’t overly padded.
As before, there’s adequate room in the rear seat for a pair of adults, with access to air vents, a centre arm rest, two USB-C ports, and bottle storage in each door pocket.
Meanwhile, the boot holds a generous 445 litres of cargo, while a space-saver spare tyre comes standard.
Look at the stars
The 2023 Volkswagen T-Roc CityLife scores with a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating that dates back to 2017 thanks to a comprehensive array of advanced features under the banner of VW’s IQ Safety suite.
This includes autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go function, lane assist with departure warning, park assist, travel assist, front and rear parking sensors, driver fatigue warning and a reversing camera.
It also gets brake assist and multi-collision braking, along with ISOFIX child seat anchorage points on the outboard seats at the rear.
Life and Style
Under the bonnet of the 2023 Volkswagen T-Roc CityLife is the same 110TSI powertrain used across many of the German brand’s products, including the T-Roc 110TSI Style.
Power comes from a 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine that delivers maximum outputs of 110kW and 250Nm.
As with the T-Roc Style, that power is sent directly to the front wheels via an eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission.
It’s a powertrain that feels well-suited to the small SUV, which doesn’t require much motivation to get its 1400kg mass moving. It’s not a particularly thrilling combo, but it delivers a healthy serve of low-end torque once the turbo spins up to produce maximum boost.
That surge can make the T-Roc feel a bit unpredictable at times as it drops full power all at once. Even so, it manages to get going with very little wheel spin, and thrums along seamlessly at higher speeds.
That eight-speed auto is a treat, too, shifting between gears smoothly and intuitively.
The T-Roc CityLife’s engine is the most frugal choice.
Volkswagen says the 110TSI will sip 6.3L/100km on the official combined cycle, compared to the bigger-engined T-Roc 140TSI R-Line, which is thirstier at 7.3L/100km.
We’ve hit an average of 8.0L/100km on previous outings in the 110TSI Style, however we didn’t have enough time during the local launch of the CityLife to cover a decent spread of driving conditions to record a reliable figure.
Roc and roll
Considering it shares its fundamental underpinnings with the renowned VW Golf, we’ve been equally as impressed by the ride and handling characteristics of the T-Roc ever since it first launched here.
And the new CityLife model doesn’t alter that opinion.
It tackles rough roads with poise and glides over potholes and imperfections better than higher grade models thanks to higher profile rubber.
For the most part, it’s a comfortable and compliant ride, with sporty suspension that allows the taut little SUV to whip around corners like a hatchback.
There isn’t a peep of body roll, and the T-Roc handles quick changes in direction without fuss, only breaking a sweat when its budget-friendly Hankooks struggle for grip – which, admittedly, takes some encouragement and a lot of enthusiastic cornering.
Elsewhere, the steering is light and precise, and the cabin is surprisingly quiet on the move, filtering out road noise to leave you with a pleasantly hushed atmosphere.
Visibility is decent all round, with the only obstructions coming out of the rear corners due to the sizeable C-pillars.
Should I buy a Volkswagen T-Roc CityLife?
The 2023 Volkswagen T-Roc CityLife is a great option for those wanting to save some cash and avoid the wait times for higher grade models.
It does almost everything the T-Roc 110TSI Style does – with a $2900 saving – and still includes plenty of good stuff: LED headlights, digital instrumentation, keyless entry and push-button start, as well as loads of safety equipment.
Volkswagen says there will be “significant numbers” of the CityLife available Down Under, which should make it easy to get your hands on one.
2023 Volkswagen T-Roc CityLife at a glance:
Editor’s Rating: 7.8/10
$35,990 (plus on-road costs)
6.3L/100km (ADR Combined)
1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol
143g/km (ADR Combined)
Five-star (ANCAP 2017)
Disclaimer: Images supplied by Volkswagen.
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