Volkswagen Preparing Crossover Onslaught, Including Compact HR-V Rival
Next-Gen Tiguan, Fullsize Crossover Round Out Lineup
Volkswagen could soon offer double the number of crossovers as it does today, according to Automotive News. With several new products (including a compact crossover) on the horizon, the company could move from quirky, also-ran status to mainstream player within just a few years.
First on the list will be the next-generation Tiguan, which should arrive as a 2017 model. The Tiguan will likely be Volkswagen’s first seven-seat crossover, since it will be offered in two different sizes to accommodate that third row of seats. Additionally, as we’ve reported before, the next Tiguan will be built in Volkswagen’s Puebla, Mexico, manufacturing facility, alongside the next-gen Audi Q5. North American production has been key to Volkswagen’s success in the past, as it helps keep costs down and isolates market prices from currency fluctuations.
However, Automotive News reports that Volkswagen is also preparing to enter the suddenly hot-selling compact-crossover segment with a CUV that rests on “a footprint similar to the Golf hatchback,” as VW execs told the news outlet. That crossover could take the form of the Volkswagen Taigun concept, as displayed at Brazil’s 2012 Sao Paulo Motor Show. That compact SUV’s design elements would seem to fit into the company’s new design goals of being aggressive and cohesive, which Automotive News says is a attempt to catch the eye of more buyers, specifically Americans.
Another option for the compact crossover comes in the form of last year’s T-Roc concept from Geneva. That two-door, targa-top crossover would likely change its form factor significantly for production, but its rakish design would convey more on-road sportiness than the Taigun’s rough-and-tumble styling. We just hope VW will fit a compact diesel under the hood of whatever crossover they offer. Volkswagen’s 110hp, 184–lb-ft 1.6L TDI engine from its European lineup would make a small, lightweight crossover more fun to drive than its similarly powered Honda HR-V competition, while still providing best-in-class fuel efficiency ratings.
The VW Tiguan and rumored compact crossover will join the seven-seat large crossover, which has been confirmed for U.S. production at the company’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, manufacturing plant. The still-unnamed crossover will be based in some way on the CrossBlue concept from 2013, likely updated with those newer, more aggressive design themes. That crossover will be the largest Volkswagen passenger vehicle ever produced, slotting above the Touareg size-wise. It will compete with large crossovers like the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, and Honda Pilot.
We expect the next-gen Touareg to maintain its status at the top of the Volkswagen lineup in spite of its slightly smaller size. The flagship SUV will likely preserve its reasonable off-road abilities, luxurious interior, and sophisticated driving experience in order to justify its higher price, much like the Range Rover provides a more premium experience at a higher price than its three-row Range Rover Sport and Land Rover LR4 brethren.
Volkswagen’s brand identity has been in flux for the past several years. Starting out in life as a manufacturer of simple, inexpensive vehicles like the Type 1 Beetle and Type 2 Bus, the company gradually moved upmarket. Cars like the Jetta MkIV and Passat B5 offered similar space and power as their Honda and Toyota competition, but at a slightly higher price, which was justified by pleasant road manners and an upmarket interior. However, in recent years, Volkswagen’s cars have begun to trim down their sticker prices by offering slightly less sophisticated mechanicals and cheaper interiors. The tactic has worked, as consumers have flocked to the larger and cheaper Passat and Jetta in droves. Now, the company looks like it’s planning the same for its crossovers, providing those buyers with a measure of German style at a competitive price.
It’s been reported before that Volkswagen’s greatest liability in this nation is its lack of choice in the truck/utility segments. However, if compact, midsize, fullsize, and premium crossovers are indeed part of the company’s plan for the U.S. market, we see no reason why the company won’t be able to build its sales here.