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Volkswagen T-Roc: A Late Charge into a Fast-Growing Segment

Posted: August 24, 2017 at 9:29 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Volkswagen typically is not the first brand to pioneer new segments. Wolfsburg often prefers to study the segment, develop a product, and then try to conquer. So it’s no surprise that the Volkswagen T-Roc, the brand’s new subcompact crossover, is a bit late to the game.

Based on the MQB modular-transversal architecture, the new T-Roc is closely related to the Golf and the Audi A3, and it is available in its European home market with three gasoline engines (1.0-liter three-cylinder with 115 horsepower, 1.5-liter inline-four with 150 horsepower, and 2.0-liter four with 190 horsepower) and three TDI engines (a 115-hp 1.6-liter four, and a 2.0-liter with 150 or 190 horsepower). The T-Roc can be had with front- or all-wheel drive and a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. No hybrid or electric version is planned at the moment.

The T-Roc may well be the sportiest SUV in its class: There are several driving modes which sharpen its responses, and VW even offers progressive steering, taken straight from the GTI.

Now that the Piëch era is over, Volkswagen isn’t attempting to be a Mercedes competitor anymore, as is clear from a peek at the T-Roc’s interior. There is quite a bit of hard plastic; don’t expect soft, padded surfaces. Instead, VW chose to spend the money on colorful trim and a large touchscreen. That’s probably the right approach, given the youthful demographic the T-Roc is aiming for.

The exterior resembles the original T-Roc concept, a two-door targa that was unveiled at the 2014 Geneva auto show. The production car shares its proportions and many details, including the chrome bar surrounding the side windows, an element that has since appeared on the Jeep Compass and the concepts from Volvo’s Chinese sister brand Lynk & Co. The somewhat coupe-like appearance is emphasized by a sloping rear end, and Volkswagen offers the choice of a contrasting roof in multiple colors.

Although the T-Roc is aimed squarely at the Opel Mokka—the Buick Encore’s twin—it’s not currently slated to come to the United States. “We haven’t decided yet,” says VW brand chief Herbert Diess, but we believe that chances are slim; while we will be seeing a VW subcompact crossover in the States, it probably won’t be the T-Roc that you see here. But we think Volkswagen should give it a try—even if they aren’t first.



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