The Volkswagen SUV range is set to expand dramatically, with a pair of models to slot below the Tiguan, along with a new Tiguan-based ‘coupe’ and more practical seven-seater.
Volkswagen Group head of powertrain development, Heinz-Jacob Neusser, told CarAdvice at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show that there are plans to grow the SUV range in the short-term.
“With Australia we have some other interesting things, which we can do,” Neusser said.
“We think that we have - this is a thing which you will see in the near future – we will have at each segment minimum one SUV.
“Actually, we have the new Tiguan for the A+ segment, we will have the T-Roc for the A- segment, that means, the segment of the Golf, then we will have the T-Cross, the segment of the Polo,” Neusser said, before going on to explain that all these new-generation SUVs will be built off the brand’s modular architecture, MQB.
That means switching between building in left- and right-hand drive is a cinch, according to Neusser.
“These are typical SUV vehicles on the MQB platform with all the technical issues which we have with the MQB,” he said.
“We do them off the platform, that is the advantage of the platform. We have with the MQB, we have all the things you need. It’s not necessary to develop the special things for these cars,” he said, in reference to the availability of such cars being built in right-hand drive for the Australian market.
“This will come, all these cars will come, in the very near future,” Neusser said.
“These are also important things I think for Australia, because from the behaviour – on-road/off-road use for the outback and so on – everything you can do with these cars because they are really stable.”
The new-generation five-seat Tiguan shown at the Frankfurt motor show has been developed in tandem with a seven-seat model, and that car is expected to be revealed very soon – likely at the LA Auto Show or Detroit Auto Show.
“The Tiguan, we are now presenting the normal wheelbase version here for Europe. This is also available for the external markets, that’s quite clear.
“We are doing in parallel, a long-wheelbase version with a seven seat application. It depends on that what you want – you can have five seats in with captain chairs, or you can use all the space you have. Or you can have the seven seat version of this.
“When you have the seven seater in, principally you can remove it. But normally the people select if they want to have a seven seater, or if they want to have all the space in the car and they live with the five seater, then you have no real need for the captain chairs,” Neusser said.
“You have three seats in the second seat row, then you have two seats with a large space and this is also a typical demand of China,” he said. “The core market for the long-wheelbase version is clear, it’s China and the US market. But it will be available [in right-hand drive].”
When it comes to the other segments Volkswagen is looking to fill, there are gaps that can be filled.
One is a ‘coupe’-style version of the Tiguan – it could be called the Tiguan R, but that’s not confirmed – though Neusser did confirm the existence of such a model in the product plans.
“We are developing one, yes,” he said of the swoopy-roofed Tiguan.
“If it comes depends on our decision making, but in principal if you look to the segments all over the world, the A SUV segment is the biggest of all the segments, because there are all the cars of the A- up to the A+, and this is a large segment.
“Since these segments are really increasing very steep over the last years and also the predictions of the future are very positive in this field, there is also space for some derivatives.”
Neusser suggested that there is also plenty of space below Tiguan, now that the new model is bigger than ever before.
“The A-, it’s a size like we’ve shown with the T-Roc one and a half years ago. From the size this is comparable to a Golf, but a very lifestyle-oriented SUV vehicle.
“Below this we have the T-Cross, that’s Polo size,” he said - though it will likely be an entirely new development, as the Polo isn't completely based off the MQB platform.
Neusser said it is important to note that these will be “really, typical SUVs” – wagon-bodied models with high seating rather than crossover versions of the hatchbacks upon which they may be based.
“And we have made the decision we have ‘high-seaters’. Everywhere high-seaters, not a crossover system with a low seat position. Really, typical SUVs.
“It’s very important. Why do we do this? Because we talked and we did a lot of clinics with our potential customers. They told us they have two different important demands, two advantages,” he said.
“First, entering and leaving the car is much easier with a high-seater. If you look to the demographic development of the population, people get older and older. This is important for them.
“The second is the command position. If you’re sitting in such a car, you are sitting a little bit higher, you can look over the traffic. This is a very comfortable feeling which people really enjoy. These are the main two drivers.
“There are some other things also including the seating position. You have relatively more space in the car when you sit more upright,” Neusser explained.
He went on to state that styling is vital for these models, making hand gestures of broad, muscled models.
“SUVs, most of the people, especially in China, they want to have very representative, status-like front areas of the cars which are looking strong and high and this upright they like to have, as a compact, solid image of these vehicles. This is much more easier to be done with a high-seat,” he said.
Stay tuned for more on the future Volkswagen SUV range.