Good Oil: Another day, another weird convertible SUV
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Bizarre convertible crossover vehicles just won’t go away
When Land Rover decided that the best possible thing they could do would be to cut the roof off the Range Rover Evoque and produce the world’s first ever convertible crossover SUV, most car fans gave the storied British manufacturer a bit of a sideways look.
And the sideways glance sort of proved to be the learned stare of a soothsayer; while generally agreed upon as better than expected by most pundits, in practice precisely no one wanted one and, so far as we can tell, it was quietly dropped from the line-up when the new 2019 Evoque surfaced.
Okay, that’s that then. Sanity restored.
Except, no. Not at all. Because now that most conservative of carmaker, Volkswagen, has decided that the best possible thing they could do would be to cut the roof off the Volkswagen T-Roc and produce the world’s second ever convertible crossover SUV.
Sigh. Really? Apparently so. No doubt several dozen German focus groups suggest that the T-Roc Cabriolet will be a winner. Well, as far as Volkswagen products go, perhaps it will. You see, when the soft-top crossover surfaces (we’ll see advanced units at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week), it will in fact represent the only convertible Vee Dub available.
That’s right: there is no longer a convertible Golf. The Beetle — ragtop or otherwise — has been officially retired. And there’ll be people reading this (admittedly the digital version mainly) who weren’t even born when something called an Eos was part of the Volkswagen range.
If you want a Wolfsburg-derived drop-top for summer, then the T-Roc Cabriolet is it. Volkswagen is hoping that prospective buyers will overlook the fact the T-Roc is a jacked-up crossover vehicle and just consider the cabriolet as “a convertible”, without adding “compact crossover SUV” to the end of that statement. Well… it does take a lot longer to say after all.
Weirdly enough, the T-Roc Cabriolet is actually bigger than its more proper acting five-door sibling. In order to achieve convertible weirdness, Volkswagen had to reengineer every single body panel from the nose backward. The only thing that hasn’t grown is the boot, which takes a big hit on available space thanks to the Cabriolet’s folding roof mechanism. Oh well, ‘practicality’ probably isn’t item numbers four, five or even six on your wish list if you’re considering this.
A future sales hit? Who knows. Let’s just hope it doesn’t ‘Evoque’ too many bad memories.
Lamborghini’s first hybrid EV about to be revealed?
Ahead of next week’s official opening day of the Frankfurt Motor Show feeding frenzy, Lamborghini teased a short Instagram video showing a designer scribbling out an angular sketch. So far, so very vague PR exercise in manufactured excitement…
Thing is though, the notepad scribble very probably points to a production-ready version of Lamborghini’s first-ever hybrid electric vehicle. It will be based on the outrageous-looking (well okay, they’re all outrageous-looking right?) Terzo Millennio concept car which the Italian manufacturer showed off a couple of years ago.
The Terzo Millennio was essentially an Aventador that had been dumped on its backside and disemboweled of its stonking 6.5-litre V12 in favour of an all-electric powertrain. Well, Lamborghini was never going to go all ‘Kamm tail’, ‘recycled Coke can door trim’ with its EV offering now, was it?
Actually, the production version will be a hybrid-electric supercar, with the V12 still in-situ, but an electric motor driving the front axle. Combined, you’re looking at a 0-100km/h time of 2.5 seconds. For which you may as well replace those numbers with “instantaneous”.
Naturally the production version of the Terzo Millennio will also probably play down the bonkers body design seen on the concept in favour of something slightly more street legal. Not that it needs to do a complete 180 on the utilitarian factor: this is a low volume ‘super rich collectors only’ limited edition model at this stage, with only 63 (in homage to 1963, Lamborghini’s foundation year) slated for production.
Oh, and apparently every single one of them has already been sold too. For a reported NZD$4m each. That’s quite a lot of Nissan LEAFs.
Kings of the all-paw auto showcases 4x4 of the future
When quattro shows off what it terms as the “vision of future 4x4s”, it probably pays to sit up and take note. After all, this Audi engineering division certainly appears to know a thing or two about the subject.
The annoyingly caps locked AI:TRAIL concept is a rather fetching design study that purportedly gives mud-pluggers still in mere twinkles in the parental pupil what the 4x4 of the future might look like.
There’s only one official render available at present, but it’s certainly rather pleasing to the eye. In saying that, there is perhaps nothing eyebrow-archingly strange here, if you discount the fact Audi has completely eliminated front and rear overhangs so as to create approach and departure angles even Land Rover would kill for.
The high-riding silhouette, replete with big knobbly off road tyres is hardly the stuff of 23rd Century Imagineering. Which leads us to suspect that, rather than a design study looking into a far-distant century, the AI:TRAIL might actually be something of a tease for a quattro-badged vehicle we could see inside the next decade. Or two.
Alternatively, perhaps it’s not actually meant to be used on Earth at all, but rather, is designed to boulder-hop its way across the Sea of Tranquility on the Moon.
Either way, all will be revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show.