VW shows off its rival to the Nissan Juke

Think VW has been ignoring the Nissan Juke? Think again: Here comes the T-ROC


Volkswagen is about to jump from having two genuine SUVs in its range to a multitude of them - and at least one of them will look a bit like this.

Meet the T-ROC, Volkswagen’s Golf-based answer to Nissan’s outrageously designed Juke, complete with a pair of dominant spotlights mounted in the front bumper.

The T-ROC concept arrives at the Geneva motor show, which opens to the press on Tuesday, tasked with swinging public opinion behind some more outrageous body design from Volkswagen.

However it didn’t ignore the fundamentals. It is powered by a 135kW version of Volkswagen’s 2.0-litre, turbodiesel four-cylinder engine, mounted across the front axle. Directly plucked from the engine bay of the acclaimed Golf GTD, the torque-rich engine boasts 380Nm at just 1,750rpm and attaches to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

It drives all four wheels with the latest, fifth-generation version of the on-demand Haldex all-wheel-drive system and still manages a nominal 4.9 litres/100km on the combined fuel economy cycle.

It is strong enough to take its all-paw body to 100km/h in 6.9 seconds and on to a 210km/h top speed, despite the T-ROC’s obvious aero deficiencies compared to the GTD Golf.

In its default Street mode, the all-wheel drive only engages when the T-ROC’s computers detect wheelspin, otherwise it’s essentially a front-wheel driver most of the time.

Its Offroad mode presets the power distribution to a locked-in 50:50 front-to-rear split and delivers a range of electronic help, such as hill descent control, hill start control and a softer throttle pedal to prevent jerkiness over rocky terrain. It can also activate its front and rear cameras in this mode, along with tweaking the ABS to pulse at a slower rate on slipperier gravel, mud or sandy surfaces.

The Snow mode also uses a 50:50 torque distribution, but then has different throttle and skid-control maps for the slipperier surface.

Conceived to sit beneath the replacement for the existing Tiguan, the T-ROC is 4179mm long and rests on a 2595mm-wheelbase version of the dominant MQB small modular architecture. That means it shares its DNA with everything from the Passat to the Golf, plus a host of Audis, SEATs and Skodas.

With the Tiguan considered too small for the critical US market, the next version of the big-selling, but slightly dull baby VW SUV will grow a touch larger, especially behind the rear seats, leaving space for creativity below it.

Creative is certainly where the T-ROC comes in, right down to it very un-Volkswagen-like name. Inside, there are no buttons at all, with all internal management controlled by touchscreens and the entire role of the traditional instrument cluster replaced by a 12.3-inch digital display.

The traditional multi-media screen is replaced by a transportable tablet, which is locked into the dashboard itself with its top two-thirds protruding above it. It responds to hand gestures and it becomes the screen for the rear camera in the T-ROC’s Offroad mode.

The dash itself is painted in the exterior’s Blue-Splash Metallic paintwork, which carries across to the door trims, the centre console and the steering wheel. If this naming convention isn’t radical enough for you, Volkswagen channels its inner X Man by dubbing the rest of the dark interior trim Adamantium Dark.

It delivers a new generation of climate controlled air conditioning, too, relying on body-related perceived temperature rather than just monitoring the air coming out of the vents. The air conditioner’s controls are dominated by what Volkswagen calls a MOLED display (Active Matrix Organic LED), which is touchscreen and sits in the centre console.

The body is similarly kooky, dominated by a pair of spotlights that are far more than they seem to be. Each spotlight has a three-LED strip in the middle to provide the spot-lighting capability, and this is mounted to a computer-controlled swivel that points it wherever the driver points the steering wheel. The forward-facing camera, which is connected to the T-ROC’s Offroad mode, is mounted just below the LED strip and also swivels with the steering wheel.

The car actually gets its T-ROC name from its pair of removable roof halves, which fit into the junior SUV’s boot.

It rides on 19-inch alloy wheels and uses 245/45 R19 tyres and weighs 1420kg.

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