The Nissan Juke Nismo RS could be just the start.
Volkswagen is wasting no time here. Just a few days after the reveal of its all-new T-Roc compact crossover, there's already early talk of a hot R performance version. Autocar has learned that Volkswagen's research and development chief, Frank Welsch, is particularly interested in a T-Roc R with around 300 hp. In fact, he's already commissioned a prototype. One of his reasons for doing so is to compete head-on with the likes of the Seat Ateca Cupra, a brand and model that isn't sold in the US. But that's not the case for the Nissan Juke Nismo RS.
Point being, given the popularity of crossovers, especially in the US, the temptation to add power and performance handling may be too great to ignore. Just look at more premium brands, specifically the Porsche Macan Turbo and Audi RS Q3. The Golf-based T-Roc has already been engineered for the 4Motion all-wheel drive system, as is the Golf R. Making the connection here? Earlier this year, Autocar also spoke with VW chairman Herbert Diess who said any hot version of the T-Roc would skip over the GTI nameplate and go straight for R. But what does this all mean for the future of hot hatches?
Well, considering crossovers are more profitable for automakers, generally speaking, wouldn't it be better for them to push consumers from hot hatches to hot crossovers? Owners would still enjoy all of the practical benefits of a hatchback (considering crossovers are nothing more than raised hatches), plus an increased ride height. Use the right engine and proper suspension tuning and you'd be all set – and automakers would profit even more.