Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet Review 2023 | Top Gear
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Doesn't create a new must-have niche, or take itself too seriously, and neither should you

Good stuff

Soft-top roof is well insulated when raised, buffeting is minimal when it’s down, surprisingly good off-road…

Bad stuff

Unsettled ride on bigger alloys, usual VW infotainment gripes, being seen in one

Overview

What is it?

The only soft-top Volkswagen you can buy. Now the Golf Cabrio and Beetle Cabrio are dead, and the Eos a distant memory, the sole new VW convertible on sale is this two-door, four-seat, open-top T-Roc

That means we must once again tackle the concept of a convertible SUV. Recent examples include the Nissan Murano Cross Cabriolet, which never went on sale in the UK, and was never replaced by Nissan. The Range Rover Evoque Cabriolet was offered for sale in Britain, and people did buy it, but not in the quantities required to make Land Rover revive it for a second generation. Spotting a trend?

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Undeterred, Volkswagen launched the soft-top T-Roc in 2020, and saw fit to keep it on sale when the T-Roc range received a mid-life facelift two years later. Is the T-Roc Cabriolet a crossover-convertible that’ll actually be a success?

Nope, I don't like it.

Oh come on, give it a chance – let’s start with the looks, shall we? The roof profile is rather boxy but settles neatly into a concealed burrow when lowered. It certainly doesn’t look like an afterthought. You even get a prominent ducktail boot spoiler to improve the car’s proportions in profile. Attention to detail, huh?

On the move with the roof up it’s acceptably quiet, so far as buffeting goes, though there is a fair amount of tyre roar on the motorway. Lower the roof – an almost-silent operation that takes precisely 11 seconds at speeds of up to 19mph – and you’re well insulated from the draught, there’s just a pleasant ruffling of the hair. Just steer clear of the bigger alloys: full details over on the driving tab.

What about the rest of the interior?

We were fairly critical of the T-Roc’s cheap-feeling interior when it was launched, and thankfully VW has addressed it with the mid-life facelift. You now get a soft-touch dash, while the hard, hollow door trim has been replaced with fabric as standard, or fake leather in upper specs. Much more like it.

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It’s not all good news, mind – the infotainment system is now more tablet-like but remains as laggy and frustrating to use as elsewhere in the VW Group stable, while the company has also ditched the buttoned climate control panel of old, replacing it with an unintuitive touch button panel instead. More on that on the interior tab.

How much does it cost?

VW will sell you a soft-top T-Roc from £31,820 – that’s around £6,000 more than a basic hard-top T-Roc. VW’s also refreshingly kept the T-Roc Cabriolet range nice and simple – there are only three choices of engine and gearbox to sift through, and two different trim levels. Eight paint colours is your lot, and you can have the roof in any colour you like so long as it’s black. Full details over on the buying tab.

So, with not much time needed to be spent on speccing the car, that leaves longer to pontificate the bigger question: is a T-Roc Cabriolet a car you could reasonably be seen in during daylight hours? Well, we’ve bravely done just that in order to bring you this review. You’re welcome.

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

Fair play to Wolfsburg for trying something a little less ordinary with the T-Roc Cabriolet

Read what you will into the fact the T-Roc Cabrio doesn’t really have any direct rivals. The compact crossover cabrio scene has been a desolate wasteland until now. That’s either because it’s a rubbish idea, or because only VW has the gall – and the disposable cash – to try to market one, even to cabrio-mad Brits. So, fair play to Wolfsburg for trying something a little less ordinary. 

Yes, the looks are subjective, and the added weight does the drive no favours, but VW has addressed most of our complaints about the launch version of the T-Roc Cabrio with the mid-life facelift, particularly the interior. The more philosophical, subjective debate only you can answer: could you be seen in one? What sort of message does it project to the world? Peacocking poser, or confused retiree whose wizened old back isn’t up to climbing in and out of a low-slung MX-5 or Z4 anymore?

Still, Volkswagen says only seven per cent of its T-Roc sales will be the Cabrio, so this is one niche-buster that’ll remain a lesser-spotted sight, rather than a phenomenon in waiting. So, at least it’ll have rarity going for it. Nothing worse than being seen in the same posing pouch as everyone else…

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