I’m not really a fan of convertibles. I don’t like the wind messing up my hair, the sun burning my face, outside smells stinking up my cabin, and annoying noises drowning out my music. I currently own an R129 SL that I’ve never taken the hardtop off of, and I rarely even drive with the windows down. But what I irrationally love are convertible SUVs. I’m not talking about Wranglers and Broncos — I mean things like the Range Rover Evoque Convertible and Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet.
Sadly, Volkswagen has announced that it hates fun, by which I mean it will be discontinuing the T-Roc Cabriolet after the current generation of the compact crossover runs its course. That’s a damn shame, as the droptop T-Roc is the only crossover convertible you can currently buy worldwide, let alone in Europe where the T-Roc is sold.
The current T-Roc will be replaced next year by a new model using the MBQ Evo platform that also underpins the Golf’s upcoming face-lift, as well as the new Passat and Tiguan.
The new T-Roc will be VW’s final combustion-engine variant, VW brand’s development boss Kai Grunitz told journalists on the sidelines of the 2024 CES tech event in Las Vegas.
Grunitz added that “there is only a really small customer group for cabrios” as reasoning for the T-Roc convertible being discontinued. Despite that, last year the T-Roc cabrio was the second best-selling convertible in Europe after the Mini droptop, selling 11,693 units in 2023, and at one point it even made up more than a quarter of all T-Rocs sold. (In 2023 the T-Roc was the third best-selling car in Europe in general, with 191,015 cars registered.) It’s not a bad value, either. In Germany the T-Roc convertible is only a few thousand Euro more expensive than the equivalent regular T-Roc, and it’s priced between the top trims of the Mini Cooper and Cooper S convertibles.
The T-Roc was first unveiled in 2017 as the smallest crossover in VW’s lineup (until the T-Cross came a year later). In 2020 the T-Roc Cabriolet came out, essentially taking the place of the Beetle convertible that exited production a year earlier. It featured a fabric roof that could be opened in just 9 seconds at speeds of up to 18 mph, and unlike the normal T-Roc, the convertible only had two doors but still retained four seats. VW facelifted the T-Roc lineup a couple years later, but sadly the convertible never got the 296-horsepower motor from the sporty T-Roc R.
It’s a real shame to see yet another niche body style bite the dust, especially when convertible sales in general are on the decline, representing less than one percent of car sales in the U.S. in 2022. But I still have hope in my heart. The proliferation of bespoke electric car platforms should make it easier to create and federalize lower-volume models — just look at how wagons are starting to have a resurgence in popularity — so maybe we’ll see convertibles, especially SUVs, make a comeback in the future.
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