The Volkswagen T-Roc is a compact SUV that rivals the likes of the MINI Countryman and Honda HR-V in Europe. It was a much needed missing link in Volkswagen's global line-up and has been well received as an urban SUV alternative to a car like the Golf. And now we have exclusive information on its arrival in India. carandbike has learnt that after much deliberation, the VW T-Roc will be launched before the end of the year. It will come as a petrol-only model. This is in-line with a view the company has on petrol once again becoming the dominant play in the Indian market context. Sources in Europe have shared with carandbike that the Volkswagen T-Roc will be imported under the Indian government's scheme that allows 2500 units to be imported without local homologation.
The cars must still carry certification from the home market they are being imported from, and must meet local regulations for safety and emissions. It is expected that VW India would bear some of the cost of the high import duty the car would be subject to (much like how Volvo has done over the years). This is to keep the car fairly competitively priced. We expect the T-Roc to sit in the Rs 17-20 lakh price bracket. That is already high in my opinion. But there is a likely plan to counter that.
The car to be offered in India will be fully loaded, and therefor shall have a rather premium positioning. This is for two reasons. VW India would want to create desirability around the car, since it will positioned above the Hyundai Creta, and below the Jeep Compass (yes that is Tata Harrier territory). But in size terms the T-Roc is quite compact, and so a powerful engine, a sophisticated gearbox, great equipment levels and an overall sense of refinement is what will create some appeal for it; or so VW would hope. The second reason is that VW would want the car to set a good benchmark and aspiration for the slightly smaller T-Cross that will arrive in 2020. Sources say the T-Cross would be powered by a 1.0 TSI engine – another reason for the larger car to have the larger engine too. The locally made T-Cross is expected to be priced at par or just below the Creta, since the car is a bit smaller. And so VW would be able attack the very popular segment from two sides as it were.
Read: Exclusive: Volkswagen T-Roc Compact SUV Review
The Tata Harrier has a 4598 mm length and 2714 mm wheelbase. The T-Roc is much smaller at 4234 mm long, but has a surprisingly generous 2603 mm wheelbase. As I said in my exclusive review – the first for any Indian media – the cabin is what really impresses on the T-Roc, in layout and space terms. VW India would do well to play that up, since the car would be seen as ‘smaller' in every other sense. The choice of petrol engines on the European T-Roc ranges from the 2-cylinder 1.0 TSI to the 1.5 TSI, and the range-topping 2.0 TSI. There are 1.6 and 2.0 TDI diesels in Europe, but as already mentioned, we will get a petrol engine – and it would be the 2.0 TSI mated to the 7-Speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox. That drivetrain is also very much in-line with the idea of a premium positioning.
Read: VW T-Cross First Drive Review
We approached VW India to confirm the news, and a spokesperson for Volkswagen Passenger Cars told us, “India is an evolving and dynamic market driven by feature-rich products and value-for-money customers. For such a region, we at Volkswagen India are continuously evaluating the most suitable product from our extensive global product portfolio. However, at this stage, we cannot comment on either of the product mentioned or the timelines for the same.” But our sources in Europe have further shared that this idea of importing and selling the T-Roc would also be a bit of experiment for VW (and Skoda since it now has the lead on products for India). If the car is well received, there could be a case made for its local assembly or manufacture in India, post 2020.
Currently the T-Roc is made in Portugal and China, but there are plans to begin local manufacturing in Brazil too later this year. The Brazil spec car may also be more competitively priced, but this is unconfirmed at this time. India is likely to get the car from Europe for starters, but if a local manufacturing or assembling plan does go through, expect something symbiotic to happen between VW Brazil and India. As for the T-Cross, it will be made in India with extremely high local content anyway. Its Skoda counterpart will come first, as that as-yet-unnamed model will have its global debut in India. Skoda's T-Roc counterpart is the slightly larger Karoq, and there are no plans of bringing that to India – at least none we are currently aware of.