Volkswagen has vowed to build an SUV in every class of car that can justify one – and the T-Cross Breeze concept at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show is the first salvo in an off-roader onslaught from the German brand.
“SUV is THE segment globally at the moment,” Volkswagen board member for sales and marketing Juergen Stackmann told us. “We compete in it with the Tiguan, but this leaves two or three cars on the upper side: the Tiguan LWB, US-built large SUV and the range-topping Touareg.
“Below the Tiguan, we believe there is space for two more SUVs: the T-Cross will sit at the smaller end – and will arrive in the not too distant future.”
The product offensive will begin in the spring, when the all-new Tiguan launches in Europe (later followed by a long-wheelbase version for North America). Work is progressing fast on preparing the US Chattanooga factory to build the production version of the CrossBlue.
The new CrossBlue will be a genuine SUV range-topper, built on the same platform underpinning the Audi Q7 and Bentley Bentayga.
Volkswagen has revealed the entry-level SUV will be built on the Volkswagen Polo platform, while the family-sized one will use the MQB architecture underpinning the latest Volkswagen Golf.
From MPV to SUV
The growth of SUVs is coming at the expense of the MPV, said Stackmann. There’ll always be a market for practical vehicles, but it’s not one that will grow – because SUVs have taken on many of the characteristics that appeal to MPV buyers, such as space, a high seating position and functionality.
“MPVs were too rational. SUVs give drivers character.”
Volkswagen thus plans not to invest too much time and effort into MPVs in the future – and Stackmann even questioned attempts by rivals to make MPVs more stylish and sporty. “Is the compromise too much?”
Renault is, notably, the brand that invented the compact MPV, and with the latest Scenic has given us arguably the most stylish small people carrier yet. However, designer Laurens van der Acker has previously admitted that if this generation of Scenic doesn’t work with customers, the firm won’t continue with it…
Time for T: the future Volkswagen SUV range
T-Cross: supermini SUV, rival to the Nissan Juke
T-Roc: family hatch SUV, rival to the Nissan Qashqai
Tiguan: second-generation family now being launched
Tiguan LWB: bigger second-gen version for U.S and other major markets
CrossBlue Concept: mid-size SUV for U.S and China
Touareg: third-gen range-topping SUV due 2018