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Delivers on its concept with decent execution, but ultimately that concept is compromised in terms of driving dynamics and versatility

What is it?

You probably don’t want to like the new Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet, simply because of what it is: a convertible SUV. It hardly seems a winning combination.

Take a dynamically compromised, high-riding body shape, and remove the metal roof and two doors – stripping away much of its practicality while adding weight and reducing structural integrity. Where its creators doubtless see wind-in-your-hair fun and freedom, many car enthusiasts will see confusion and compromise.

But while Autocar readers are unlikely to be drawn to Volkswagen’s latest soft-top, the ongoing SUV boom (which has led to myriad other equally questionable machines) suggests plenty of buyers will be. And, leaving aside its concept, the T-Roc Cabriolet actually delivers a fairly decent first impression. 

With the multi-layered fabric roof up, the familiar T-Roc styling largely remains in place. The biggest difference is the removal of the two rear doors, and the addition of 34mm to the car’s overall length, with the wheelbase extended by 37mm. What can’t be seen are the various strengthening measures in the doors and underbody to recoup some of the rigidity lost by removing the hard roof, and which also add nearly 200kg to the T-Roc’s weight.

What's it like?

Inside, the plush cabin will be familiar to anyone who’s sat in a regular T-Roc – or, for that matter, any recent VW. The touchscreen is within easy reach, and the controls and layout are intuitive. Our test model’s R-Line trim added extra premium feel, with the likes of leather seats and brushed metal elements.

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The driving position feels a bigger change: the windscreen is more steeply raked and the front roof edge a little lower, making it feel a little less spacious and more closed in. Adults sitting in the back will definitely notice the difference, particularly after they’ve clambered in through the three-door set-up.

The boot is another area of compromise, with space taken to stow the roof reducing it in size from 445 to 284 litres. Access is made difficult by a relatively narrow opening, although a hatch through to the rear seats does help with bulky items.

Lowering the roof, which retracts into that storage area in just 12 seconds at the touch of a button, removes much of the slightly hemmed in feel from the cabin. Still, roof up or down, the extra weight of the T-Roc Cabriolet can be felt in its handling and performance. The 1.5-litre turbocharged engine (a 1.0-litre is also available) pulls well enough, with 148bhp and 184lb ft of torque, but you have to work it harder to extract performance than in a standard T-Roc. Our car was fitt with the seven-speed DSG auto gearbox, and performs well in most situations, as long as you don’t ask too much of it.

And this isn’t a car you’ll want to push particularly hard. While the body roll is relatively well controlled, the ride is overly firm and unsettled, especially on bumpier roads. But ease off, relax and cruise more gently, and it’s far more in its element, especially on a pleasant day with the roof down. Even at motorway speeds, there’s relatively little wind buffeting when open to the elements.

Should I buy one?

The T-Roc Cabriolet, then, is pretty much what you’d expect it to be. It is, emphatically, not a driver’s car. But even if you question the idea of a soft-top SUV, you have to respect that Volkswagen had delivered on that brief with conviction.

Perhaps because these are, as we’re constantly being reminded, ‘difficult times’, but after driving it it’s hard to hate the T-Roc Cabriolet’s earnest execution of a wholly frivolous concept. It’s supposed to be fun and, in this lockdown age, a bit of carefree frivolity seems mildly appealing.

Still, viewed objectively that doesn’t make up for the compromises inherent in its basic concept. But you sense those compromises won’t matter much to those people attracted to a soft-top SUV in the first place.

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Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet 1.5 TSI Evo R-Line​ specification

Where Somerset, UK Price £33,420 On sale now Engine 4 cyls, 1498cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 148bhp Torque 184lb ft at 1500-3500rpm Gearbox 7-spd automatic Kerb weight 1542kg Top speed 127mph 0-62mph 9.6sec Fuel economy 40.5mpg CO2 159g/km Rivals BMW 2 Series Convertible, Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet

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Comments
40

9 June 2020
Who signed this off?!

9 June 2020

Always thought the Land Rover  Evoke was a bad looker well this to my eyes is just as bad. Where is the style, the stunning looks , I give in. This is so utilitarian and well just awful. Italians know how to do  convertibles whereas VW can  only do sheds without roofs. Bet it will be taken off sale anytime soon,blaming Coronavirus and slowdown in economies .I think calling it a shed i,m being a litlle too kind

9 June 2020

for the "plush" interior the review mentions, I can see lots of hard plastic, and cheap fabric, but not much plushness, and the same goes for most recent VAG offerings, do the reviewers actually drive the cars or just reprint the press release.. 

9 June 2020
Citytiger wrote:

for the "plush" interior the review mentions, I can see lots of hard plastic, and cheap fabric, but not much plushness, and the same goes for most recent VAG offerings, do the reviewers actually drive the cars or just reprint the press release.. 

This

Reviews have been scathing in the past regarding the quality of VW latest interiors, so how this is classed as plush when previously it's been classed as lacking I don't know.

Awful concept but it does look ok. A golf convertible should have been kept as it was a better drive and looked better.

9 June 2020
Citytiger wrote:

for the "plush" interior the review mentions, I can see lots of hard plastic, and cheap fabric, but not much plushness, and the same goes for most recent VAG offerings, do the reviewers actually drive the cars or just reprint the press release.. 

Its a very brief reference to the interior, as if the reviewer wanted to brush past this aspect of the car as quickly as possible. And we're talking about a £33,000 car here, so I'd expect some plushness.

It interests me that a manufacturer can make a unique two door model when it wants to, its not as if there's a regular 3 door T-Roc to base this on. But then, its in a market where people are willing to pay..

9 June 2020
catnip wrote:

Citytiger wrote:

for the "plush" interior the review mentions, I can see lots of hard plastic, and cheap fabric, but not much plushness, and the same goes for most recent VAG offerings, do the reviewers actually drive the cars or just reprint the press release.. 

Its a very brief reference to the interior, as if the reviewer wanted to brush past this aspect of the car as quickly as possible. And we're talking about a £33,000 car here, so I'd expect some plushness.

It's just a perfunctory repetition of what the PR said.  It's like the amusing noting of how long it takes to drop the roof.  Roof goes up, roof goes down.  That's all you need to know.  It'd be noteworthy if it took an excessive amount of time, otherwise it's like a tabloid telling us the value of a murder victim's house. 

9 June 2020
Citytiger wrote:

for the "plush" interior the review mentions, I can see lots of hard plastic, and cheap fabric, but not much plushness, and the same goes for most recent VAG offerings, do the reviewers actually drive the cars or just reprint the press release.. 

I agree, in no way does the interior look "plush", its not a bad interior, it looks quite minimalist, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but no one in their right mind would call it "plush". As someone else has mentioned - its more like the press release/marleting blurb was simply repeated.

9 June 2020

Another thought who the hell thinks its plush regarding the interior plush it is not , a commercial van is more plush for heavens sake. All that cheapo white plastic everywhere no design to speak of none !

9 June 2020

It's like Camilla Parker trying to be a stripper. No.

9 June 2020
manicm wrote:

It's like Camilla Parker trying to be a stripper. No.

Charles Wood.

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