Volkswagen has decided to concentrate its efforts on selling SUVs in India. This is partly down to the success it has experienced with off-roaders globally – it has gone from having just one in its fleet, to now having as many as 10. And the strategy has worked. Sales are currently at a record high in international markets. This is primarily why the company is now is in the process of implementing the same strategy in India.
Come 2020-2021, VW could have as many as five SUVs in its line-up. The slightly underrated, but seriously accomplished Volkswagen Tiguan is already on sale in India, and that will be followed by the T-Roc, the long-wheelbase Tiguan or Tiguan Allspace, and VW is even in the process of working out if its big boy, the Touareg, would help boost its brand image here. What we will also get is the Polo-based T-Cross, which will be manufactured in India.
What will make such a quick introduction to the market possible is that all three SUVs will be imports and won’t have to go through a lengthy certification process. Imported under the new 2,500 car quota scheme, they will offer high-quality interiors, impressive levels of ride and handling, a clean and crisp design, and loads and loads of features. Insiders in VW now say they know what Indian car buyers want and are ready to deliver.
But what exactly is the T-Roc? To keep it simple, just think of it as another Golf-based crossover or SUV that’s shorter than the Tiguan in length and not as ‘upright’. The 4,234mm T-Roc, in fact, is 252mm shorter than the Tiguan. And it’s relatively wide and lower slung too, which actually makes it quite appealing in a sporty sort of way. Even the styling is fresh and is not your standard VW fare. The design of the nose is arrowhead-like, the lines flow nicely around the wide haunches and though the cabin isn’t as stand-up as a regular SUV’s, it still gets some butch claddings, big wheels and even roof rails. The slightly more vertical cabin, compared to a Golf's, pays dividends on the inside, resulting in greater space and more legroom. It’s not as spacious as a Tiguan for sure, but it doesn’t feel like a hatchback either. And kneeroom in the back is decent too. This, however, isn’t likely to be the car you'd want to be chauffeured around in. What you will appreciate, for sure, is the digital instrument panel, the funky new-age dash and then, for those of you who self-drive, this could be the perfect halfway house between a sporty hatch and a high-riding SUV.
The car won’t come with a diesel mill initially, but the 1.5 TSI, making around 150hp, should provide enough grunt. Expect the T-Roc to have plenty of appeal even with a price of around Rs 23 lakh.
Up next will be Volkswagen's Tiguan Allspace; essentially a longer and larger version of the Tiguan SUV. Revealed for international markets back in 2017 at the Detroit motor show, it is unmistakably a Tiguan when viewed from the front. It's considerably longer though – 215mm longer overall, and built on a 110mm longer wheelbase, the Allspace, as a result, now has enough room to accommodate a third row of seats. Either that or you get 115 litres more of boot space.
Expect the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace to come at a premium over the standard Tiguan, which is currently priced between Rs 28.07 lakh and Rs 31.46 lakh (ex-showroom, India). VW however may sell it powered by the same engine as the Tiguan – a 143hp, 2.0-litre diesel, driving a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic and 4Motion all-wheel-drive system.
Also on the cards is VW's flagship, the Touareg. An SUV that VW actually sold here from 2008 to 2013, but this new version however is a completely different kettle of fish. Based on the VW Group's MLB Evo platform (also shared by Audi, Porsche, Bentley and Lamborghini), the new Touareg is clearly a big step up in luxury and comfort. And, everything about it is big. It is over 5m long, the huge grille up front is anything but shy, and look at it from the rear and it clearly has all the pomp and circumstance you'd want in a big SUV. The styling will go down well here, that’s for sure. And, what is also likely to find favour is the very luxurious cabin, dominated by two large screens. The main screen measures 15 inches and you get a digital instrument panel that’s huge as well. If the third row delivers a good amount of space and comfort, SUV buyers in India may look upon the Touareg favourably. Expect competitive pricing between Rs 65-70 lakh, depending on the trim level. Remember, this will be an import and not assembled here like most of its competition. Question is how many SUV buyers will be willing to forsake a traditional luxury car badge at almost the same price. That's something VW will have to answer when it makes its final evaluation soon.
Last but not in any way the least will be the Polo-based T-Cross, the big one for India. Manufactured at Chakan, it will have an extremely high level of local content.
VW SUVs, they’re coming. Expect a lot.
2018 Volkswagen T-Roc image gallery
2019 Volkswagen Touareg review, test drive
Blog: Matters of Import-ance
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