Sighting follows VW boss Herbert Diess’s confirmation that performance SUV will skip GTI and go straight for an R version
Wearing a set of larger diameter wheels and featuring a quad exhaust setup, the spotted hot SUV is powered by the same turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine as its main rival. However, the VW model will likely come with a slight power advantage over its 300bhp sibling to help justify a higher price – mimicking a trend seen with the Golf R and Leon Cupra.
Much will be shared with the hot Golf, because the T-Roc is based on the same MQB A underpinnings as the hatchback. But even with the same outputs, the T-Roc R’s additional weight and higher centre of gravity will ensure it falls short of matching the 4.6sec 0-62mph time and dynamic handling of its smaller sibling.
In typical VW R style, the future performance T-Roc’s styling will likely remain restrained, giving it an understated look like the Golf R.
This early ‘in the metal’ sighting comes four weeks after VW research and development boss Frank Welsch told Autocar that he had comissioned the build of a development car to test the T-Roc R formula. Welsch said he «liked the idea» and expected it to «go well in the UK».
VW chairman Herbert Diess revealed earlier this year that the fastest T-Roc would bypass the GTI name because «GTI is for us the hot hatch; a sporty car, classless and accessible for many. It should be this car – a hot hatch.» For an SUV, Diess said «we have another sub-brand, R».
The Volkswagen T-Roc has been revealed. Read more here
The T-Roc R would sit above the current most potent 187bhp T-Roc, which Welsch believes will help the model stand out in its busy segment.
“We have a 187bhp T-Roc, which is more than the competitors offer,» he said, «and we’ll see if lots of people take that».
Further T-Roc range expansion
The commonality of parts for cars using the MQB A platform on which the T-Roc sits also raises the prospect of the new SUV being sold in plug-in hybrid GTE form along with, potentially, a warm GTD set-up. However, the future of diesel engines in smaller cars remains up for debate as manufacturers weigh up the cost of meeting new emissions regulations for diesels against how much of a premium car buyers will be willing to pay. A pure-electric version of the T-Roc is unlikely, however, as VW is set to launch a bespoke family of electric models on its MEB platform from 2020.
Welsch’s openness to branding a fast T-Roc as an R model rather than a GTI also signals a clear policy to reserve the latter badge for its famous hot hatches. Even so, the firm is looking to broaden the appeal of its GTI range, with the entry-level Up GTI set to launch early next year.
As the SUV sector booms, car makers are looking to exploit sales niches while creating halo models that attract attention to a line-up. For example, Nissan launched Nismo models of its Juke, but VW’s decision to launch an R version of the T-Roc would signify a stepping up in the mainstream performance SUV stakes.