Motor Shows

VW T-Roc R: Why Australia misses out on the hot hatch SUV

Given our appetite for SUVs and hot hatches, you’d reckon the high performance T-Roc R would be a no-brainer for Australia. Here’s why it won’t happen:
- shares

Here’s another car to add to the list of those that won’t be heading to Australia anytime soon due to our lower-grade fuel.

The Volkswagen T-Roc R is effectively a Golf R hot hatch on stilts, but Australians will have to admire it from afar because it’s potent 2.0-litre turbo engine has not been calibrated to run on our premium unleaded.

Australian regulations allow up to 50 parts per million of sulphur in our unleaded petrol, but in Europe the maximum sulphur content is just 10ppm.

The T-Roc R engine has only been calibrated to meet European fuel requirements. Given the engineering time and cost to recalibrate engines for different markets around the world, the T-Roc R is one of the casualties.

It’s the same reason the manual transmission version of the new VW Polo GTI has been dropped indefinitely, and certain variants of the next generation Golf won’t be sold in Australia.

Last week, Volkswagen Australia spokesman Paul Pottinger told CarAdvice: “[The] T-Roc R would be perfect for Australia – the third biggest R market in the world, a market in which Golf R outsells GTI. But we can’t confirm it, unfortunately.”

Days later, Porsche shocked the local automotive industry when it announced the first car sold in Australia with a petrol particulate filter, the updated Macan SUV.

It turns out it was a shock because it wasn’t true. The new Porsche Macan is sold with a petrol particulate filter in Europe but Australia-bound models don’t have them.

Although it quickly clarified the technical differences, Porsche stood by its claim that a Macan with a petrol particulate can run on our 50ppm fuel even though other manufacturers say Australian premium unleaded would clog petrol particulate filters due to the high sulphur content.

In the meantime, the impasse continues. While car makers refuse to do special calibrations for certain engines to be able to operate on Australian fuel and while the petroleum industry says it’s not viable to introduce 10ppm premium unleaded until 2027 enthusiasts will miss out on cars like this.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling