BACK in 1952 Volkswagen sold the grand total of two cars in the UK - both Beetles.
Things have changed dramatically since those early post-war years and the German firm sold more than 207,000 cars in Britain last year.
NowVWis about to launch an SUV blitz which they hope will increase the market share further.
First up is the all-new T-Roc- a Golf based compact model that will be followed by a stretched version of the popularTiguanwith three rows of seats, followed by a new luxuryTouaregand then a Polo based T-Cross model.
Finally the company will reveal an all-electric SUV that will go on sale in 2020.
The T-Rocis now available fromVW's190 British retailers with prices starting from £18,950.
Manufactured in Portugal it is available with a choice of petrol or diesel engines and buyers will be able to personalise their cars by selecting from 11 bold colours and four dash pads.
They can also choose between four specs, S, SE, Design andSEL. Later next year they will also be able to specify the T-Rocin R-Line trim.
Slightly shorter than the Golf but wider, the T-Rocis very stylish and its crisp handsome lines are very easy on the eye.
It offers room for five adults inside and luggage space is also generous at 445 litres - one of the largest in class.
All versions are generously equipped with dual zone climate control, an eight-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system,Bluetooth, DAB radio,USBconnectivity, power points, alloy wheels and a raft of active and passive safety features.
A larger 10.3-inch Active Info Display is standard onSELmodels and is available as an option on all other models. It links with the infotainment system to provide a digital and interactive cockpit which is both easy-to-use and useful.
The T-Rocwill offer more personalisation opportunities than any otherVWmodel and is sure to be a hit with younger buyers.
The Design models will really appeal as they allow owners to choose a contrasting roof colour which extends from the rear roof spoiler over the roof and down the windscreen-pillars. It really makes the car stand out in a crowd.
Power comes from a wide choice of petrol and diesel engines with a range of outputs.VWexpects sales to be 80 per cent petrol with private buyers making up 75 per cent of sales.
At the launch I concentrated on the 1.0TSI115ps petrol car in Design spec which at £21,125 is certain to be one of the big sellers.
The peppy 1.0-litre has more than enough puff to power the T-Rocand is good for a top speed of 116mph and sprints to 62mph in just 10,1 seconds.
Linked to a nice six-speed manual gearbox, this engine is claimed to return 55.4mpg on the combined cycle and over 60mpg on longer runs. It's CO2 rating is 117g/km.
The three cylinder unit is smooth and quiet and enjoys a low 11 insurance group. It cruises comfortably at motorway speeds and is perfect in town and on country roads. It is always willing and has no trouble keeping up with other traffic.
The T-Rocoffers a nice driving position and the modern cabin is bright and spacious. The instruments and controls are up to the usualVWstandard and with the rear seats folded flat you can utilise up to 1,290 litres of space. Sadly some of the plastics are not up to the usual VW quality and feel a bit scratchy.
Packed with all the equipment and tech you could want, the T-Rocalso offers numerous driver assistance features including lane assist, adaptive cruise control, a city emergency braking system, hill start and front and rear parking sensors.
The ride and handling cannot be faulted and the suspension dealt well with all road imperfections and there was little body roll. There was some wind noise from the large door mirrors but visibility is great and the driving position excellent.
I also sampled the top petrolSEL2.0TSI4Motion model. It offers punchy 190ps performance with a smashing seven-speedDSGtransmission.
In addition it adds extra grip thanks to the four-wheel-drive system which features four driving modes to cope with harsh weather and off-road driving.
This model is capable of 134mph and can sprint to 62mph in 7.2 seconds while still returning a claimed combined figure of 41.5mpg. Emissions are 155g/km.
It has certainly got a lot going for it but if I was spending £31,485 I would opt for the largerTiguan.
The stylish and versatile T-Roc is sure to have a big impact on the compact SUV sector although it certainly has some tough and talented opposition including other vehicles in the VW stable.