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Volkswagen plans SUV assault for Geneva show

Wednesday, 27th February, 2019 3:21pm

Thought perhaps that the world’s appetite for SUVs and crossovers might be waning?

Don’t bet on it, because Volkswagen Group certainly isn’t — the four mainstream brands of the vast motoring conglomerate are all bringing SUVs (either all-new or high performance versions of existing models) to the Geneva Motor Show in March.

Volkswagen will be focusing more on winding up for the launch of its all-important new ID all-electric hatchback (although the physical reveal of the production version may be held back for the Frankfurt Motor Show in September) but it will bring a high-performance R version of its popular T-Roc crossover to Geneva.

The T-Roc R will likely get the same 310hp four-cylinder turbo engine as found in the Golf R (VW isn’t giving away any tech details as yet) and will deploy that power through four-wheel drive and a seven-speed DSG gearbox.

It gets a chunky bodykit, and apparently the chassis has been honed (on the Nurburgring race track of course) by none other than former World Rally and World Rallycross champion Petter Solberg.

Audi’s contribution this time around is a new e-Tron electric SUV, to sit aside its existing e-Tron electric SUV.

This new one’s different, though, because unlike the singular, standalone e-Tron quattro, this is going to be the Q4 e-Tron. Based on the upcoming new Q4 coupe-crossover (which is basically a sportier version of the existing Q5,) the e-Tron version gets all-electric power, using the VW Group’s new MEB battery car platform.

Skoda’s also going electric for Geneva, also using the MEB platform for its crossover-coupe iV concept.

Half way between a low-slung sports car and a high-riding SUV, the iV has massive 22 inch wheels, cameras for rear-view mirrors (tech borrowed from Audi’s e-Tron), and the chance of going into production in 2020. Or at least something inspired by it will go into production by 2020.

One coupe-crossover not enough for you? Well, that’s okay because Seat has plans to bring along one of its own. Well, not Seat specifically — instead this last SUV concept is going to be a low-clung 4x4 badged as a Cupra, Seat’s high-performance brand.

So far, we’ve only seen one Curpa model — a modified Seat Ateca SUV — but this concept is going to be the brand’s first standalone model. It’ll have a unique body and interior, sharing nothing (or at least little) with workaday Seat production models.

Seat claims it will take “the high-performance vehicle to the next level, offering a unique driving experience”.

VW really needs all of these new models to chime with customers, as its total group sales were 1.8 per cent down in January, compared to the same month last year. Although VW says that it has been able to find more market share in declining markets such as Europe and the US, it admits that its sales have fallen by a significant 2.9 per cent in the all-important Chinese market.

Dr Christian Dahlheim, head of Volkswagen Group sales, commented: “The Volkswagen Group made a solid start to the new year with relatively stable delivery figures. The fact that we won market shares in a broadly declining overall world market is a good result. It shows the strength of our brands and their products. The persistently volatile geopolitical environment and looming economic risks in individual markets will have a decisive impact on our business this year, and I believe China and Brexit will present us with special challenges, particularly in the first few months of the year.”

In Ireland, VW’s sales have fallen ten per cent so far this year, in a market that has declined in total by 12 per cent.

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