The case of the convertible SUVs is a curious one. Back when this style of vehicle was new – the days of the original Jeep and Land Rover, that is – the open-top utility vehicles were cooler and more practical than their hardtop counterparts. But the more modern SUVs got, the rounder and more car-like they got, the less they worked as a convertible. Many auto makers have tried to create a successful drop-top sport utility, but all have failed.
The thing is though, there are those that are still hoping to build the first great convertible SUV of the modern time. A while back Range Rover tried their luck with the Evoque convertible. The design of that car proved pretty polarizing, with the roof up or down, but that didn’t matter because the sales, to put it mildly, sucked. The total sales of the Evoque Convertible barely covered the cost of developing the ugly soft top it sported. So naturally, and inevitably, it was discounted. Now you would think that others might learn from Land Rover’s experience, and countless other experiments before that, and forego the idea of convertible SUVs altogether. But no.
The latest car maker to put their hopes and dreams in an open-top SUV is Volkswagen. And the model they have chosen to give the treatment to is the popular new crossover, the T-Roc.
While the T-Roc Cabriolet is yet to be released into the market, the initial impressions suggest it has all the flaws of the Evoque Convertible. Among the main features that doomed the British car were the ungainly roof, pathetic cargo room, and cramped rear seat, not to mention the wince-inducing price. Now, the Volkswagen will probably sport a more reasonable price tag, but as you can see in the videos provided here, the space, the boot (trunk) and the looks are quite questionable. Looks like VW has not learned anything from the fate of those convertible SUVs that came before. Sure, they have so much resource, they could care less if this car proved a flop. But they could have tried harder, you know.
The problem with open-top SUVs, besides those mentioned above, is that they have to, by default, be a two-door car. And if you look at the history of SUVs from the 70s onward, only a handful of two-door SUVs have been successful. Again, when one thinks of an example the first instance that comes to mind is the Evoque Coupe – also discontinued. Only Jeep Wrangler has managed to be a fairly successful two-door SUV, which has also made it a reasonable convertible SUV. And it is obvious why people don’t like two-door SUVs. When you buy a large 4×4 vehicle to go on long trips with and maybe go off road from time to time, you want to be able to carry a lot people and cargo. So it makes sense to have four proper doors and a large cargo area. Coupe and convertible SUVs cannot prove that, which makes them barely more than boutique vehicles favored only by a small minority. We seriously doubt even the mighty VW can circumvent that major flaw.