Popular crossover is facelifted with a focus on improving the quality of the interior.

Sales of the Volkswagen T-Roc have exceeded expectations in many markets, including the UK, so it’s no surprise that the changes made halfway through its planned life cycle are rather subtle. There are tweaks here and there but nothing that fundamentally alters its appearance, performance or driving character in any great way. A new-look front end is the key exterior design change. It includes lightly reworked LED headlights (optionally with ‘IQ Light’ adaptive matrix projectors); a revised grille with a more heavily structured black plastic insert; an LED band either side of a larger VW badge; and a redesigned bumper with new-look air ducts and daytime-running lights.

At the rear, there are lightly revised tail-lights with new LED graphics, as well as a reprofiled bumper. It also gets a revised set of alloy wheels, ranging from 16in to 19in. Alongside the standard T-Roc, buyers can choose the Life or Style specifications, gaining a choice of a two-tone exterior livery and either aluminium-look or black detailing, or the new-look R-Line, as featured on the 2.0 TSI 4Motion tested here. This leans heavily on the look of the reworked hot T-Roc R, having a unique front bumper with high gloss black highlights; vertically stacked LED daytime-running lights mirroring the look of those on the latest Golf R; and larger air ducts.

This most powerful regular T-Roc is agreeably responsive, with lots of usable performance. Its turbocharged 2.0-litre fourcylinder petrol engine is smooth and willing on the way to its 6500rpm redline, providing impressive low-end flexibility for comfortable cruising and a good deal of midrange urge under acceleration. Volkswagen claims a 0-62mph time of 6.8sec, so it’s not far off the Golf GTI for overall accelerative ability. Top speed is put at 135mph. Drive is sent via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and a 4Motion four-wheel drive system that offers four main driving modes plus a configurable Individual one.

There’s an abundance of grip and traction, although the handling is short of true communication and the sort of interaction enthusiasts seek. The steering (optionally with progressive weighting, as fitted to our test car) is light and quite direct, if devoid of any real feel off centre. Being compact, the T-Roc is easy to manoeuvre in urban areas and satisfyingly precise in the way that it turns in to corners out on the open road.

However, its raised ride height contributes to more body movement than in a conventional hatchback. The ride is nicely composed on smooth roads, although it never feels as controlled as the Golf, with which it shares its platform and suspension, even with the optional Dynamic Chassis Control adaptive dampers. The changes inside go deeper than those made to the exterior. Reacting to criticism of the T-Roc’s hard plastics, Volkswagen has introduced a soft-touch dashboard as part of efforts to provide it with “a more premium feel”. It retains the same basic design but now houses a standard 8.0in Digital Cockpit screen and a revised 6.5in (optionally 8.0in or 9.2in) tablet-style touchscreen.

The infotainment system receives new menus and graphics, making it easier and more intuitive to operate than before, although it’s still a little tardy in reacting to commands compared with some rivals. New and revised functions include traffic sign recognition, conversational voice control, optional Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a sim card giving access to Volkswagen’s WeConnect services. There’s also a new selection of coloured trim elements, redesigned fabric door trims, revised switchgear (including touch-sensitive controls and a slider for the air conditioning within the centre console) and a steering wheel bearing the touchsensitive controls from the Golf.

The T-Roc remains hassle-free and versatile. Its core character remains, but the changes, as subtle as they are, make it more satisfying to live with. Prices have risen in line with the greater standard equipment, so it’s not cheap. Even so, we expect this car to prove just as popular as its predecessor, if not more so.

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