Adding handsomely to the weight, reducing the structural rigidity and compromising the versatility of one of the most popular crossovers on sale right now doesn’t seem an entirely clever idea. But that’s exactly what Volkswagen has done.
The styling remains well balanced when the soft-top is in place. It’s a multi-layer fabric structure designed to mimic the lines of the fixed-roof model. To package it, Volkswagen has made some notable changes to the platform, the most significant of which is the addition of 37mm to the wheelbase, which in turn adds 34mm to the overall length. There’s also a number of added strengthening measures within the floorpan, sills, doors and windscreen.
The four framed doors of the T-Roc hard-top have also made way for a pair of longer frameless doors, and subsequently the B-pillars have gone, too.
What impact has losing the roof made to the T-Roc?
The changes to the underbody come with one big drawback: the car driven here weighs 194kg more than its regular equivalent, and it struggles to hide that heft. The turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, with 148bhp and 184lb ft of torque, is terrifically flexible and quite willing to rev, but it has to work harder while on the move and demands more gearchanges to achieve this.
Despite its firm damping, the T-Roc Cabriolet isn’t a car that likes to be pushed too hard, either. Body roll is pretty well controlled – there’s a lower centre of gravity, due to the lighter roof and added weight concentrated within the platform – but flex and shake is quite noticeable, especially on less than smooth surfaces, and this ultimately limits the T-Roc Cabriolet’s dynamics. The ride is more fidgety and you can’t escape the shimmy through the body during cornering.
It’s not all bad, though, because adopting a more moderate speed and lowering the roof provides a chance for the car to display more favourable traits. At a gentle cruise, it’s very much in its element, even if the effect of flex and shake never really disappears completely. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic would be our choice, but the six-speed manual is light and precise in its action.