Can the underpowered VW surpass its more powerful competitors?

It seems as if nearly every automaker is offering at least one high-performance SUV. Porsche pioneered the segment, but Mercedes, BMW, and others, including Volkswagen, have followed, combining blistering performance with practicality. Not every sporty sport utility vehicle is equal, though, as pitting a VW T-Roc R against the Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 and Porsche Cayenne Coupe feels grossly unfair, but a new CarWow video shows the VW has a few tricks up its tailpipe.

The most potent model is the Cayenne Coupe, sporting a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 hybrid engine making 462 horsepower (344 kilowatts) and 516 pound-feet (700 Newton-meters) of torque. It is also the heaviest, weighing 2,425 kilograms (5,346 pounds). The Mercedes is down on power, making 435 hp (324 kW) and 383 lb-ft (520 Nm) of torque from its turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six. It’s lighter, too, at 2,305 kg (5,081 lbs). The VW T-Roc R is underpowered, producing 300 hp (233 kW) and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm) of torque from its turbocharged 2.0-liter mill. However, its runt status gives it an advantage – it's the lightest by 730 kg (1,609 lbs).

Gallery: Volkswagen T-Roc R

The VW's weight advantage is noticeable in the first few seconds of the first drag race. The VW gets a solid start before pulling away from the German luxury brands. It crosses the quarter-mile finish line in 13.0 seconds flat with the Porsche hot on its bumper with a 13.1-second time. The AMG trailed with a 13.9-second time. A 50-mph (80-kph) rolling race also had the VW winning; however, a second rolling race with the cars in their sportiest settings and manual mode saw the Porsche eke out its only win. The VW took second with the Mercedes trailing.

The braking test also saw the VW win, which stopped in the shortest distance – another advantage of its lighter weight. The Porsche stopped in the second shortest distance with the Mercedes trailing again. The tiny VW has some clear advantages over the German luxury entrants, though the T-Roc is also packed with far fewer features.  

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