Have you eaten recently? Are you currently standing? If the answer to either of those is yes, then we’re not responsible for your reaction to the following statement: Volkswagen is investing $98.3 million in the production of a convertible SUV.
“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,” said Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen brand. “I am especially pleased to note that we can count on the Osnabrück team’s decades of experience with convertibles. The Osnabrück plant now has bright prospects for the future.”
The T-Roc Cabriolet will be built at the company’s Osnabrück facility beginning in 2020 and will share the same MQB-based platform as the standard model. The company’s move into the loathsome convertible SUV segment comes as a surprise, as we’re hard-pressed to think of an example other than the Jeep Wrangler where one was a hot seller.
For some historical context, let’s take a spin down Convertible SUV Lane, shall we? Way back in the 1990s, several companies had brief dalliances with convertible SUVs. Toyota did a needlessly complex version of the RAV4 from 1997 to 2000 where owners could drop the rear portion of the vehicle’s roof. It was a pain to operate and never sold in significant numbers, and when Toyota changed platforms for the RAV4, they ditched the idea altogether.
Next up was the Nissan Murano Crosscabriolet. Seeing one of these in the wild is both notable due to its rarity and unpleasant because, well, look at it. Nissan debuted the Crosscabriolet at the 2010 LA Auto Show and put it in production for the 2011 model year. It had a few short years in the sun and was unceremoniously discontinued in 2014.
Lastly, there is the Range Rover Evoque Convertible, which went into production last year. The Evoque convertible is based on the Evoque coupe and seems like a move by Jaguar Land Rover to hoover up any potential customers on the absolute fringes of the SUV market. That being said, it’s a lot less weird-looking than the Crosscabriolet, owing to its two-door progenitor. It’s expensive though, with the HSE trim starting at almost $60,000.
This brings us back to Volkswagen and its T-Roc Cabriolet. Apart from sounding like a lesser character from “Trailer Park Boys,” this will be VW’s first foray into the murky depths of convertible SUV-dom. The press release is decidedly light on information as to the topless T-Roc’s particulars, but the odds are good that we’ll never see this thing in the USA.