Two-door SUV convertible carves new niche for VW, following in the footsteps of the Range Rover Evoque convertible
The disguised prototype is the first time we’ve seen a drop-top T-Roc on the road since it was confirmed for production. The disguise is surprisingly modest given that the car is over a year away from production, showing the car’s thin windowline with a fabric folding roof in place up to the back of the car.
Scheduled for launch at the end of the decade, the T-Roc cabrio is to be built at the Osnabrück plant – formerly the home of coachbuilder Karmann, which produced the Golf Cabriolet and original drop-top Beetle. Currently, the facility oversees part-production of Porsche’s Cayenne and Cayman, the Skoda Fabia and VW’s Tiguan, the latter of which is finished in Wolfsburg.
At its peak, around 20,000 T-Roc convertibles will be made per year, representing an investment of around £70 million in Osnabrück targeting logistics and modernising of production and assembly technology.
More than 40,000 T-Roc orders have been placed since its launch late last year, although convertibles tend to be slower-selling for VW; 613 Beetle Cabriolets were sold in the UK in 2017.
SUVs are increasingly important for VW – the brand plans to launch 20 before 2020, by which time SUVs will represent around 40% of VW’s total sales.
It’s part of a new, more emotional strategy at the company as the brand introduces cars that steer away from its traditionally rational approach. The dramatically styled Arteon was the first example of this strategy. The T-Roc cabrio will be the brand’s first drop-top SUV.
The concept designs for the T-Roc Cabriolet were so good that a production run was approved by the company’s board even though it didn’t make “rational sense”, according to VW sales boss Jürgen Stackmann. He said: “It’s a car we all wanted to make. There isn’t a huge market for it – that sort of car is only popular in a small number of countries – but we felt passionately we should do it.”
VW brand boss Herbert Diess said: «Volkswagen is evolving into an SUV brand. The T-Roc is already setting new standards in the compact SUV segment. With the cabriolet based on the T-Roc, we will be adding a highly emotional model to the range.”
A T-Roc R model has previously been reported, but VW remains tight-lipped about whether the model will make it to production, despite a growing sports SUV market with new entries announced regularly.