Roc out with
your mohawk out
VW finds another niche to fill
Is that you, spirit of the Evoque Cabrio? Just
as Land Rover kills off its foray into the posh
droptop market, VW swings in with this. It’s
billed as being in the tradition of the Beetle
and Golf, so it has a fabric rather than metal
roof, which folds in nine seconds.
Just two engines are offered: a turbo
1.0-litre triple with 113bhp and a 1.5-litre
four-pot with 148bhp; a seven-speed auto
is available with the bigger engine. Heavy
rollover protection, including a reinforced
windscreen, will mean leisurely progress.
On the options list is a new version of VW’s
glossy infotainment system, dubbed MIB3
(no, not the sci-fi movie). New kit brings
an integrated eSIM card for always-online
connectivity, allowing more navigation and
Swish or sporty?
Two trim options are available; Design
(pictured in blue) and sportier R-Line.
Design injects more pizazz, with coloured
dash inserts, while R-Line firms and lowers
the ride, embiggens the wheels and gets a
chunkier bodykit. Embarrassment optional.
The T-Roc Cabriolet, built in Osnabrück, Austria, will go on
sale next spring as the sole soft-top in the Volkswagen range
He seeks further expansion. ‘We’ll look at new opportunities
but above all we want to continue to be a very profitable car
company that continues to seek to do more for less. The oppor-
tunities will come and go and we’ll select the ones we’re most
Including JLR? The rumours say Tata wants to sell and PSA
wants to buy. ‘The opportunity is not on the table. Land Rover is
interesting. But right now we’re not thinking about it.’
Besides, PSA already has a ‘highly profitable’ premium brand
- DS Automobiles, a Tavares creation. The DS 7 Crossback is
France’s best-selling premium SUV. Mind you, to get to the
pricing and global appeal of BMW or Mercedes ‘could take 30
years’. That’s how long it took Audi, points out Tavares.
Why no successful French premium car maker before, when
France dominates in other luxury goods? ‘No car maker in
France has been able to combine the emotional creativity with
the engineering and financial rigour.’
He also believes that a four-million-cars-a-year maker –
where PSA is now – is fine for success. ‘We’re proving it. Bigger is
not necessarily better. Agility in this chaotic world raises value.
The key is not size. It is to continue to execute our plans in the
most efficient way.’
The future is of course electric, and Tavares says making
money from EVs will be tough. ‘Clean mobility is going to be
more expensive. It’s like organic food. No politician is telling
the consumer this but it’s true: new emissions regulations and
electric mobility will cost more.’ He expects 30 per cent of all
new cars sold in Europe by 2030 will be electrified – battery
electrics or plug-in hybrids.
We finish talking motor racing, Tavares’ passion. He’s been
racing for almost 40 years and is now 60. ‘I love it as much as
ever. I’m maybe taking fewer risks than before and I probably
respect my racing cars more. But if I compare my lap times, I’m
getting faster. So there’s still potential for improvement. That
makes me very happy.’
Six questions only we would ask
Tell us about your first car...
‘A ’78 Alfa Alfasud Sprint. My father bought it for me, my
reward for graduating.’
What achievement makes you most proud?
‘The turnaround of PSA. I’d also say when I went to America to
take care of Nissan in 2009. The US market was collapsing, it
was really difficult. We took some unpopular decisions and by
2010 we beat the profit record for Nissan in America.’
What’s the best thing you’ve ever done in a car?
‘I raced a GP2 single-seater; 620bhp and 600kg. It was so
fast I couldn’t comprehend the images coming into my eyes.’
Tell us when you screwed up...
‘So many... When I was a young engineer at Renault, I was
so focused on getting things done on time I sometimes
compromised on quality. I now know you can never
compromise on quality.’
Supercar or classic car?
‘I love racing cars, so maybe a GP2 or an old F1 car. Not a
supercar. You can’t drive them on the road any more.’
Company curveball... how many times has Peugeot won
‘Three. And do you know how many times we’ve won the Indy
500? Three: 1913, 1916 and 1919.’