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Aug 15, 2023

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While the global microchip shortage has caused a lot of issues, it’s also resulted in these two beauties: the 2023 Volkswagen T-Roc R Grid Edition and Tiguan R Grid Edition. They are Australian-only

While the global microchip shortage has caused a lot of issues, it’s also resulted in these two beauties: the 2023 Volkswagen T-Roc R Grid Edition and Tiguan R Grid Edition. They are Australian-only limited-editions that strip out some comfort and safety gear but retain their turbocharged performance and all-wheel drive handling. The T-Roc is about $10,000 cheaper, but the Tiguan is bigger and more powerful. It’s time to sort out this sibling rivalry.

Reflecting their difference in size, the compact 2023 Volkswagen T-Roc R Grid Edition is priced at $54,300 plus on-road costs, while the medium 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid Edition is priced from $63,990 plus ORCs.

These two limited-edition SUVs are both more than $7000 cheaper than the better-equipped full-time models they are based on – the $61,990 T-Roc R and the $71,190 Tiguan R (taking into account July 1 price rises).

Both models are five-seat SUVs with potent 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engines, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions, on-demand all-wheel drive systems and sports suspensions.

Logical rivals for the T-Roc R Grid Edition include its Audi SQ2 technical twin, the Hyundai Kona N and the MINI Cooper Countryman JCW Sport.

Logical Tiguan R Grid Edition rivals include two other models from within the VW Group, the Cupra Formentor VZx and the Skoda Kodiaq RS. Beyond the family, competition includes the lamentably ignored Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce.

The real question here is what equipment the 2023 Volkswagen T-Roc R Grid Edition and Tiguan R Grid Edition don’t come with.

These Australian-specific models steer around the global microchip shortage by deleting some comfort and safety equipment.

So what’s missing from the T-Roc R Grid Edition compared to the Tiguan R version? Higher-spec Matrix LED headlights and tail-lights and the power tailgate are gone, sports seats trade in Nappa leather for cloth/microfleece upholstery, heating is deleted from both front seats and power adjustment from the driver’s seat.

The Grid Edition is differentiated from the R by matte black 19-inch Pretoria alloy wheels and black roof rails. A Grid Edition badge is found on the tailgate.

Equipment it retains includes dual-zone climate control with adjustable rear vents, keyless entry/start, aluminium finish for the accelerator and brake pedals, an electric park brake and a leather-trimmed flat-bottom steering wheel with dimpling and heating.

Metallic and pearl-effect paint is standard, as is a space-saver spare tyre. The only option is a $2000 panoramic sunroof.

So let’s now conduct the same exercise for the Tiguan R Grid Edition.

Like the T-Roc R GE it runs less sophisticated LED headlights and tail-lights than the R, loses the power tailgate and omits Nappa leather trim and power adjustment for the driver’s seat.

Externally the Grid Edition is distinguished from the R by black door mirrors, roof rails, body trim, quad exhausts and specific badging. It shares its 21-inch alloy wheels and rear spoiler with the Tiguan R.

Shared interior equipment includes tri-zone climate control, keyless entry/start via a push button, ambient lighting in 30 customisable colours, front seat heating, a leather-trimmed and heated flat-bottomed steering wheel with shift paddles and a gearshift knob in leather and matte chrome.

Metallic and pearl-effect paint is standard. A panoramic sunroof is a $2100 option. There is no spare tyre, just a mobility kit and pressure monitoring.

There are also a couple of driver assist and safety items that have been dropped which we will deal with in the safety section of the review.

Both cars come covered by a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, while service intervals are 15,000km or 12 months.

VW does offer capped-price servicing, which averages out at $728.20 per service for the T-Roc and $856.40 for the Tiguan over five services. Cheaper five-year pre-purchased service plans are available.

Racetrack activities are not covered by the warranty, which is worth remembering with these cars.

The 2023 Volkswagen T-Roc R Grid Edition and Tiguan R Grid Edition both lose some safety gear compared to the cars they are based on.

Culled are blind spot assist with rear traffic alert and a crash-anticipation system that does things like tighten the seat belts when it reckons you’re about to have a crash.

The LED headlights have lost their anti-dazzle and cornering functions, while the tail-lights no longer have dynamic indicators.

The Tiguan R Grid Edition also dispenses with a head-up display.

Both vehicles still get front, front side and curtain airbags, while the Tiguan adds a driver’s knee airbag. They also retain autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian monitoring, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go function, driver fatigue detection and lane assist and departure warning.

The Tiguan alone has active steering assistance to keep you in your lane.

The Tiguan gets a 360-degree camera while the T-Roc makes do with a reversing camera. Front and rear parking sensors and park assist are included in both.

There are three child seat top tethers fitted to the rear seats and ISOFIX mounts for the two outboard seats.

Neither car gets an ANCAP safety rating.

Similar yet different is the story when it comes to the 2023 Volkswagen T-Roc R Grid Edition and Tiguan R Grid Edition technology packages.

The 10.25-inch digital instrument clusters are the same, offering multiple views that range from analogue-style dual gauges to full-width map views.

Both also come with 9.2-inch infotainment touch-screens. In the T-Roc it sits tablet-style above the dashboard, while in the Tiguan it is embedded in the dash.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both available via cable or wireless, but only the T-Roc offers wireless smartphone charging.

Other features on offer include embedded satellite navigation, Bluetooth streaming, voice control and digital, AM and FM radio sources.

There are few tuneable dials. Volume is adjusted via plus and minus buttons on the left-hand side of the screen, as well as steering wheel controls. Air-conditioning can be adjusted via the touch-screen or dedicated controls in the centre stack.

There are dual USB-C points available to both front and rear passengers of the T-Roc, while the Tiguan offers two up front and one in the rear.

The T-Roc R Grid Edition employs a six-speaker audio system, while the Tiguan upgrades to eight.

The 2023 Volkswagen T-Roc R Grid Edition and Tiguan R Grid Edition are powered by different versions of the legendary EA888 2.0-litre turbo-petrol twin-cam four-cylinder engine.

The EA888 has performed meritorious service in performance models across multiple VW Group brands in multiple tunes.

In the T-Roc it makes 221kW at 5300-6600rpm and 400Nm from 2000-5300rpm. It drives via a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and VW’s multi-plate clutch 4MOTION system, zotting from rest to 100km/h with the aid of a launch function in a claimed 4.9 seconds.

The Tiguan punches out 235kW between 5600-6500rpm and makes 400Nm from 2000-5600rpm. It also drives via a seven-speed DCT and 4MOTION and has launch control assistance to reach 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds. Yep, it’s slower than the less powerful T-Roc, but it’s also 147kg heavier at 1737kg and that won’t help.

Both vehicles are aided by XDL (Extended Electronic Differential Lock) that keeps front wheelspin in corners under control. But only the Tiguan adds torque vectoring between the rear wheels.

The 2023 Volkswagen T-Roc R Grid Edition claims an official fuel consumption rate of 8.3L/100km, while the 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid Edition is rated at 8.8L/100km.

During our testing the T-Roc’s average came in at 9.8L/100km and the Tiguan at 10L/100km. So they closed up in the real world.

Both vehicle employ start/stop to help improve economy, and both prefer the most expensive 98 RON fuel.

The T-Roc has a 55-litre tank while the Tiguan take 58L. Both achieve an EU6 emissions rating, but only the T-Roc engine comes with a particulate filter.

The 2023 Volkswagen T-Roc R Grid Edition and Tiguan R Grid Edition are great fun to drive.

Their rorty engines and sports chassis deliver a connected experience that makes winding roads truly entertaining.

But the T-Roc is just that bit more together.

Both cars come with adaptive MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension tuneable by the driver, ride height lowered 20mm in the T-Roc and 10mm in the Tiguan and different iterations of Hankook Ventus rubber.

The lighter weight of the T-Roc, its lower height and centre of gravity and more nimble size in terms of wheelbase and tracks make it feel more integrated.

The Tiguan tends to transmit more road corruptions via its bigger wheels, body-roll more and feel top-heavy by comparison. The latter was exacerbated for me because I like a lower driving position than the seat would adjust to.

But in isolation the Tiguan R GE is still a really enjoyable drive.

Neither is connected in the way of a low-slung sports car, but they are a serious step ahead of your average understeering front-wheel drive SUV.

They both have a communicative front-end turning into a corner and transition with a nailed-on rear-end. Skilled drivers might appreciate more movement from the rear, but for the vast bulk of us this is the right set-up.

Brake performance is also strong in response and fade resistance. The T-Roc employs 340mm discs up front and the Tiguan 358mm items, both clamped by callipers painted in signature VW R blue.

Steering feel is perhaps the weakest part of a strong dynamic armoury, but that’s pretty normal in these days of electric power assist. Accuracy and speed of response is not in question.

Both powertrains are at their best when the drive modes are dialled up. Then the engines are fast to exploit their substantial torque, the gear changes lightning-quick and there is snap and crackle from the exhaust on the over-run.

The dampers get pretty stiff in the most aggressive Race mode, but there is an Individual mode that allows you to tailor the Grid Editions to your personal preferences. You can dial the T-Roc through Comfort and Normal, and the Tiguan through Comfort and Sport, as well as Race.

The change of modes really does affect the way the Grid Editions behave. In some cars they seem more like placebos!

So that means they are more suitable for urban and commuter use than you might first think. They are civil and pretty comfortable. In fact, tip-in throttle response becomes downright leaden in Comfort, so you might want to keep the powertrain response wound up a bit more while dialling back the dampers.

The traditional balkiness VW DCTs tend to display at tip-in throttle wasn’t so obvious in these cars.

Noise levels into the cabin are well contained – maybe too well for such sporting cars! Tyre roar is minimal on all bar coarse-chip surface.

Yep, both the 2023 Volkswagen T-Roc R Grid Edition and Tiguan R Grid Edition can theoretically go a little bit off-road.

But if you’re talking anything more challenging than a gravel road you’ll soon run out of grip (unless you swap to all-terrain tyres) and ground clearance.

Years ago, VW nailed the ability to make people feel instantly welcomed in the cabins of its cars. The 2023 Volkswagen T-Roc R Grid Edition and Tiguan R Grid Edition are no exception.

It’s a combination of what you see and touch that add up to a level of perceived quality for the price that few other mainstream brands achieve.

In the Grid Editions in particular that effect is underlined by the heavily bolstered and deeply supportive sports seats.

The Tiguan gets single-piece tombstone front seats with slots to add to the atmosphere. They are also wider to help accommodate heftier passengers.

In the rear, the Tiguan obviously has the space advantage, although for its size the T-Roc isn’t disgraced.

The Tiguan also has the much bigger boot (615 v 392 litres) and the added advantage of paddles to flip down the bench seat when seeking more space (1655 v 1237 litres).

Storage is generous around both cabins with bins in all doors. Both cars get a lidded console bin (bigger in the Tiguan), a glove box and cup holders, including two in rear fold-down arm rests. They also get drawers hidden under the driver’s seat.

It’s not all positives, though.

The buttons on the steering wheel spokes can be activated as your palms roll across them when turning. In the T-Roc it took me a while to figure out why the steering wheel heating kept coming on!

Then there’s the infotainment system on each car. VW has copped deserved criticism for the way the head unit is tuned and controlled. For instance, there’s no on/off and volume dial, just push buttons which don’t work as simply.

And while there’s lots of info to dig down into and discover, it just lacks intuitiveness in the way you go about finding this stuff. Most people will quickly switch to Apple or Android, which are certainly easier to work with.

Having said that, both the T-Roc and Tiguan were a bit pedantic at times about whether they would hook up to the smartphone systems or not.

And finally, the rear seat of the T-Roc is obviously denuded of the trims and materials that make the front of the cabin so appealing.

If you love some razzamatazz with your SUV motoring and have a bit of budget then we have no hesitation in recommending the 2023 Volkswagen T-Roc R Grid Edition and Tiguan R Grid Edition.

We really appreciate that in stripping gear out of these cars VW has left their performance intact. Their equipment lists are trimmed but not their characters.

If you need that bit more space then the Tiguan is the choice. It’s the family hauler of the two, sacrificing a little driving purity for practicality.

But the T-Roc is a cheaper car and the better drive. So if they are your key determining factors then go for it. It’s one of the most appealing performance buys of 2023.

2023 Volkswagen T-Roc R Grid Edition at a glance:Price: $54,300 (plus on-road costs)Available: NowEngine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrolOutput: 221kW/400NmTransmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automaticFuel: 8.3L/100km (ADR Combined)CO2: 191g/km (ADR Combined)Safety rating: Not tested

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid Edition at a glance:Price: $63,990 (plus on-road costs)Available: NowEngine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrolOutput: 235kW/400NmTransmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automaticFuel: 8.8L/100km (ADR Combined)CO2: 201g/km (ADR Combined)Safety rating: Not tested

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2023 Volkswagen T-Roc R Grid Edition at a glance:Price:Available:Engine:Output:Transmission:Fuel:CO2:Safety rating:2023 Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid Edition at a glance:Price:Available:Engine:Output:Transmission:Fuel:CO2:Safety rating: