Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet enters production at Osnabrück
5 December 2019 - Autoblog
VW's only convertible makes an expensive bet on an uncertain segment
The first units of Volkswagen's T-Roc Cabriolet began rolling down the line at the automaker's Osnabrück plant today. VW has already invested a "high double-digit million euro amount" to upgrade the facilities for the convertible crossover's production. What's surprising is that company officials at the ceremonial launch pledged to invest "in the site on a similar scale... predominantly in production of the T-Roc Cabriolet" over the next five years.
Having made the bet, VW's gone all-in on it. Still, it's a hefty dose of confidence for a segment that might not have caught on yet. The graveyard of OEM droptop crossovers only has bodies, but they represent the only two attempts at the niche so far. The groundbreaking Nissan Murano CrossConvertible lasted three model years, the Range Rover Evoque Convertible just two. In August, VW Group board member in charge of VW brand marketing Jurgen Stackmann told Autocar, "The [sales] momentum for convertibles is over. The opportunity to combine what people really want now — a C-UV [C-segment utility vehicle] — with a cabriolet that has a longstanding tradition in the Volkswagen brand was a great opportunity. ... From a rational side, you would never go into the cabriolet market."
The fully electric roof only comes in black, and opens in nine seconds at speeds of up to 19 miles per hour. Engineers worked to remove compromises from the top, designing side panels that act as drip rails, and transverse members that prevent fabric "inflation" during high-speed driving. The ragtop version loses a space on the rear bench, becoming a dedicated four-seater, and trunk space decreases from 15.7 cubic feet to 10 cubic feet. Engine choices will be a 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder with 114 horsepower and 147 pound-feet of torque or a 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder with 148 hp and 184 lb-ft. Both come with a six-speed manual transmission standard, and the larger motor can be optioned with a seven-speed dual-clutch.
The Style package presents a choice of four themed interiors with ambient lighting. The R-Line model goes more racy inside and out with features like speed-dependent progressive steering, fog lights, lowered suspension, sport seats, and R-Line branding. Both ride on 17-inch wheels, but 19-inchers can be optioned. An available next-gen infotainment system comes with a SIM card for permanent online access, and an available 400-watt BeatsAudio stereo will broadcast to the world just how funky the buyer is.
The Osnabrück plant has a long history with convertibles, having been opened by Wilhelm Karmann, and producing the Beetle Cabriolet from 1949 to 1980, as well as the Karmann Ghia, Golf Cabriolet, Porsche 356, 914, and Boxster. Now, on top of the T-Roc Cabriolet, the facility builds the Porsche Cayman.