From £20,5356
New model is the only convertible in the Volkswagen range and the only soft-top crossover on sale
19 March 2020

What is it?

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 new T-Roc Cabriolet indirectly replaces the Golf Cabriolet, and with the Beetle now also gone, that leaves the Karmann-assembled T-Roc as the brand’s sole open-top model.

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's it like?

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.

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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.

The swift operation of the roof, which lowers and stows above the luggage compartment behind the rear seats in just 12sec, provides an al fresco experience at the press of a button. With the windows up, there’s very little wind buffeting up to around 80mph, making it quite pleasant as long as the road isn’t too challenging. Still, it’s unusual. Forget any notion about it being sporty: you sit at a typical SUV height without a roof over your head.       

The front of the interior mirrors that of the regular T-Roc, with a hard plastic dashboard and a mix of precise controls and inoffensive but not exactly luxurious trim materials. You can choose Active Info Display digital instruments as part of a long list of options, which also includes a superbly intuitive infotainment system and the well-bolstered sport seats of our test car.

The driving position immediately feels more intimate than that of the hard-top, due to the added rake of the windscreen and proximity of its header rail, which sits uncomfortably close within your peripheral vision. It’s better, then, to lower the height of the seat squab. The problem with this, though, is that you find yourself enclosed within a car that has a relatively high shoulder line, shallow glass and a high rear end, making overall visibility a key weak point.         

The open-air experience doesn’t come without its compromises in other areas, either. When it’s down, the roof robs the boot of space and versatility. It shrinks from 445 litres in the hard-top T-Roc to just 284 litres and the narrow aperture restricts the loading of bulky luggage.

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Should I buy one?

It’s easy to understand why you would look at buying the T-Roc Cabriolet. From the outside, it promises the best of both worlds: the versatility of an SUV and the open-air driving appeal of a convertible.

The reality, unfortunately, is that it’s compromised on both fronts.  

Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet 1.5 TSI specification

Where Germany Price £28,525 On sale Now Engine 4 cyls, 1498cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 148bhp Torque 184lb ft at 1500-3500rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual Kerb weight 1524kg Top speed 127mph 0-62mph 9.6sec Fuel economy 44.0mpg CO2 146g/km Rivals BMW 2 Series Convertible, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet

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Comments
18

19 March 2020

The best thing about this review is the views of Mallorca in the background. As for the car itself, however good it might be (not very, judging by the review) I just cannot get the image of a Barbie doll car out of my head!

19 March 2020

30kg heavier? A typo surely?

I don't dislike this as much as I should, largely because the T Roc is hardly the tallest or most bulky of crossovers, but it suffers hideously from the same compromises as the Evoque convertible: higher weight, worse dynamics and compromised practicality.

 

19 March 2020
scrap wrote:

30kg heavier? A typo surely?

I don't dislike this as much as I should, largely because the T Roc is hardly the tallest or most bulky of crossovers, but it suffers hideously from the same compromises as the Evoque convertible: higher weight, worse dynamics and compromised practicality.

 

 

Indeed, so you being the eminently pragmatic contributor, who first complains, but will no doubt have a ready made fix for these shortcomings...no it's ok...don't add them here for us, pass them on via the "usual channels" and we can see for ourselves what your input has done by way of vast improvements...sCRAP, a typo surely...

19 March 2020

Looks wise, I don't mind it. It is what it is. I don't think anyone would be in any doubt that it isn't a sporty car, the regular one hardly is. I am impressed that it is only 30kgs heavier, that is pretty good, although it was hardly a lightweight car to begin with. For most buyers, it will be a good car that is "reliable", reasonably practical for a car of its type, but with the added appeal of taking the roof off on sunny days. 

It is not a car for everyone, so I look forward to reading all the comments...

19 March 2020
I think they mean 300kg more. Useless proof reading as always.

MrJ

19 March 2020

It looks like a bathtub on wheels.

The Fiat 500c and Mazda MX5 coupe look better and work well, so are my preferred open tops.

19 March 2020

I had a terrible experience with a Mazda MX-5 cabriolet coupe, the car, dealerships and Mazda UK all letting me down really badly. But on the rare day it wasn't at the dealership being fixed or the weather was awful, I loved every second of driving with the roof down (when the roof actually worked - one of its many faults).

But an intimidating factor was the low ride height in busy traffic. So something like this T-Roc convertible would appear to address that - but as the review states, the sloping windscreen and high bodyline makes for a pretty enclosed convertible experience.

Maybe the faster, cheaper, four-seater but obviously smaller Mini Converible starts to make more sense all of a sudden......especially as you'll still be subjected to the same sort of name calling if you paid a lot more for the T-Roc.

19 March 2020

Its a long time since I've read a convertible review which emphasised flex, shake and shimmy as much as this one does. Still, the car market these days is predominantly about image, and what others will think of you, so this will no doubt sell well and appeal to many.

19 March 2020

Not one picture of it with the roof up. Why?

19 March 2020
Sulphur Man wrote:

Not one picture of it with the roof up. Why?

 

Oh dear, clearly you have no transferrable skills...try the VW website, or even "Google" it...oh dear...

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