Wolfsburg, Germany - Volkswagen has announced it will introduce a drop-top version of its attractive new T-Roc compact SUV.

To be launched in the first half of 2020, it will be VW’s first convertible SUV and continues the German firm’s major model offensive into the sports utility market.

“Volkswagen is evolving into an SUV brand,” said Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen brand. “The T-Roc is already setting new standards in the compact SUV segment. With the cabriolet based on the T-Roc, we will be adding a highly emotional model to the range.”

The German automaker hasn’t revealed whether the T-Roc cabriolet will have a hard or soft folding roof, and the single design sketch VW has released doesn’t make it clear.

However, the topless T-Roc should otherwise be mechanically identical to the hard top version that went on sale in Europe late last year, and which has already sold around 40 000 units.

Smaller than the VW Tiguan, the T-Roc was launched in August last year as VW’s new contender in the compact crossover segment to compete against vehicles like Toyota’s C-HR and Nissan Qashqai.

Most of the derivatives are front-wheel-driven, but VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system is available with the bigger engines.

Petrol engines include an 85kW/200Nm 1-litre TSI, 110kW/250Nm 1.5 TSI and 140kW/320Nm 2.0 TSI. Diesel buyers have the choice of an 85kW/250Nm 1.6 TDI or a 2.0 TDI with either 110kW/340Nm or 140kW/400Nm. Six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG gearboxes are offered.

Like the latest Golf and Polo, the T-Roc's cabin is highly digitised, with a digital instrument cluster available as an option, along with a range of infotainment systems. However, even the base model receives a Composition Colour touch-screen as standard, along with driver aids like City Emergency Braking, Pedestrian Monitoring and Lane Assist.

Owners will also be able to access a wide range of online services and apps via smartphone and VW Car-Net.

SUVs are currently making a key contribution to the growth of VW. With 720 000 Tiguans sold, this car is among the 10 best-selling models in the world and the top three SUVs. By 2020, the brand intends to expand its SUV range to 20 models, by which time aout 40 percent of the vehicles sold by Volkswagen will be SUVs.

The T-Roc is destined for South Africa, although the timing has yet to be confirmed.