COMO, Italy – Volkswagen lifts the covers on the new T-Roc for media here, with the new small CUV set to make its public premiere at the Frankfurt auto show next month.

European sales will begin by the end of the year, but Volkswagen says it has no plans to introduce the T-Roc to the North American market. U.S. officials confirm to WardsAuto development has begun on an alternative A-segment model that will be sold in the U.S.

The new high-riding 5-seater slots into the German automaker’s lineup beneath the Tiguan, offering buyers the choice of three gasoline and two diesel engines together with either front- or permanent all-wheel drive.

One of two new CUVs Volkswagen plans for introduction by early 2019, the uniquely styled T-Roc first was previewed in concept-car guise at the 2014 Geneva auto show.

The definitive production version unveiled here is based on VW’s highly versatile MQB architecture and will be priced to rival a wide number of competitors with its six-model lineup, including the Renault Captur at the lower end and the Mercedes-Benz GLA at the upper end.

It will be joined in early 2019 by a production version of the smaller Volkswagen T-Cross Breeze concept revealed at the 2016 Geneva auto show.

Stylistically, the T-Roc leans heavily on the earlier concept with an exterior that emphasizes its dual on- and off-road character.

Among the key design cues is a new interpretation of the classically simple Volkswagen grille. It is bookmarked by relatively thin headlamps that wrap around well into the front fenders to give the front end a highly tapered appearance.

Further back, the sides are dominated by relatively large wheelhouses flanked by heavily structured wheel arches. Other distinguishing styling features include a swage line that runs back above the door handles to form a defined shoulder line, a chrome trim element extending from the A-pillar over the entire side of the roof before ending at the base of the wide C-pillars and optional two-tone paint scheme.

Three trims are planned from the outset of sales: standard, style and sport.

At 166.7 ins. (4,234 mm) in length, 71.6 ins. (1,819 mm) in width and 61.9 ins. (1,572 mm) in height, the T-Roc is 9.9 ins. (251 mm) shorter, 0.4 ins. (10.2 mm) wider and, due to its more road-car-like ground clearance, 5.2 ins. (132.1 mm) lower than the second-generation Tiguan.

Inside, the T-Roc boasts a dashboard similar in style to that already used by the Golf Sportsvan, but with additional body-colored trim elements to help liven its appearance. The controls also have been brought over from other recently launched Volkswagen models, giving the new CUV an instantly familiar cabin appearance.

Cargo capacity with the rear seats up is 15.7 cu.-ft. (414 L), slightly bigger than that offered by the Golf hatchback and well short of that available in the Tiguan.

The list of optional equipment includes the latest version of Volkswagen’s 11.3-in. (28.7-cm) active information screen behind the steering wheel, plus an 8.0-in. (20.3-cm) touchscreen infotainment display supporting Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink. There’s also phone charging and a 300-watt Beats sound system.

Among the gasoline engines is a 115-hp 1.0L turbocharged 3-cyl., 150-hp 1.5L turbo 4-cyl. and 190-hp turbo 2.0L. The 4-cyl. turbodiesels, all fitted with an SCR aftertreatment system, include a 115-hp 1.6L and 150- and 190-hp versions of VW’s 2.0L.

Four models are offered with a 6-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive as standard. The 2.0L TSI and more powerful version of the 2.0L TDI come exclusively with a 7-speed DCT and 4Motion all-wheel drive – a combination that can also be ordered as an option on the 1.5L TSI and lower-powered 2.0L TDI.

Volkswagen claims the T-Roc leads its class in terms of driver-assistance systems. Among the standard equipment on all models are automatic post-collision braking, active lane keeping and a front collision-avoidance system – the latter incorporating pedestrian monitoring and emergency braking. High-end models also receive a driver alert system.

Buyers can option the new CUV with another 10 functions, including road sign display, adaptive cruise control, lane-change assist, blindspot monitoring, traffic-jam assist, emergency assist, proactive occupant protection, main beam assist and park assist.