Volkswagen’s love affair with convertibles, dating back to 1949 and the first Beetle soft-top, is taking a contemporary new turn with confirmation that VW is to make its first cabriolet SUV.
The T-Roc, one of the most popular new compact sports utility vehicles since going on sale in 2017, is going to lose its roof from 2020. It will be produced in the VW Osnabrück plant, formerly the Karmann factory which has specialised in chopping the roofs off cars for almost 70 years.
So far we have just a teaser image of the new model, showing its two-door body and what appears to be a fabric soft-top. It is likely the Cabrio will come in towards the top of the current T-Roc range, which in the UK extends from £19,000 1.0-litre front-driver to £31,000 187bhp all-wheel-drive SUV. It should still undercut what is currently the only other SUV convertible available, the Range Rover Evoque Cabriolet which costs between £45-55,000. VW hopes to sell 20,000 T-Roc Cabrios a year.
VW chief 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.”
VW says by 2020 its global SUV portfolio will number 20 models and 40 per cent of all VWs sold will be sport utility vehicles. Already its Tiguan is among the world’s top three biggest-selling SUVs.
By choosing to build the T-Roc Cabrio at Osnabrück, VW is bankrolling the future of a European car plant famous for cabriolets and sporty cars.
As the 1901-founded independent coachbuilder Karmann, its back catalogue of convertibles is impressive: the first Beetle Cabriolet, Karmann Ghia convertible, Golf Cabrio, Audi A4 Cabriolet, Mercedes-Benz CLK, Chrysler Crossfire convertible and Porsche soft-tops from 356 to Boxster. Most closely associated with VW, it also produced the Scirocco and Corrado coupes for Wolfsburg. Under VW ownership since 2011, today it turns out bodies for Volkswagen Tiguan and the Porsche Cayman.