Lovely soft top from Range Rover
What’s the point in the Range Rover Evoque convertible? Damien O’carroll explains.
The Range Rover Evoque convertible is, on the surface, a vehicle that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. A convertible SUV? What purpose does that serve? Well, here we do feel like we have to draw your attention to one salient fact – the original Land Rover was, of course, a two-door topless vehicle. So that makes the Evoque convertible, in a technical sense, the closest vehicle in the current Land Rover range to the original. I’ll let that sink in. But even with that point made, I still agree the Evoque convertible makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. And that, as it turns out, is more than enough to make me rather like it! The first thing you notice about the Evoque convertible is how well the job of lopping off the roof has been done. No compromises have been made, with the boot even remaining useably large (just 251 litres, but quite deep and reasonably accessible thanks to its height) thanks to the roof fitting neatly behind the rear seats. The roof can be dropped in 18 seconds (at up to 50km/h), or raised in 21 seconds. The roof mechanism is a clever setup that actually (and unsurprisingly) owes a lot the Jaguar F-type convertible, including its electric motors, and there is no need for a tonneau cover, as the leading edge of the top serves as a cover and fits nicely flush with the rear deck. With the roof up people don’t tend to notice you, because it does actually look rather similar to an Evoque three-door with a black roof, so for such a distinctive and, yes, showy car, it is actually capable of being somewhat unobtrusive. The one downside of the convertible effectively being an afterthought, Land Rover has had to add an enormous amount of strengthening to prevent it from becoming a floppy, flexing mess. That means there is a rather astonishing 280kg extra in this car, including bracing across the sills and tougher windscreen pillars to meet rollover-safety requirements (there are also pop-up roll bars at the back of the cabin). The interior is shared with the hardtop Evoque and is every bit as stylish and beautifully made as it is there, and our test car also included Land Rover’s new (and rather impressive) widescreen Incontrol Pro touchscreen infotainment system. A two-door convertible of any sort is never going to boast the most rear seat room, and the Evoque is no exception here, with the rear seats being acceptable for short distances, but because they are squeezed into a narrower space to accommodate the roof hardware, they really are for smaller members of the family. The Evoque convertible comes to New Zealand only in top HSE Dynamic specification, with a 177kw/340nm two-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. The smooth, powerful engine means that it doesn’t lack grunt, but the considerable extra weight does take the edge off somewhat, it must be said. That said, the convertible only takes an extra second to reach 100km/h over the Si4 five-door and sips another 0.6 litres of fuel per 100km, so the penalty really is negligible. And the extra weight actually seems to bring an improvement to the ride quality, with the convertible feeling impressively composed on bumpy around-town roads. Oddly enough Land Rover still insists the Evoque convertible has a high level of offroad ability, so it comes standard with 4WD and is fitted with the full Land Rover Terrain Response system. Although with a base price base price of $118,000 ($17k more than the HSE Dynamic fivedoor) we can’t see many buyers taking the convertible further off road than accidentally climbing the curb outside their favourite cafe. While the Evoque convertible looks great, drives and rides impressively well and is of a massively high quality, there is one big downside, and that is the fact that almost everything you would want on a $118,000 convertible SUV is optional. Adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert, a heads-up display and keyless entry are all things you might expect as standard on a $110K plus car that you have to pay extra for here. Still, that most likely won’t actually matter to someone who falls madly in love with the Evoque convertible’s oddball charms and endearing lack of a point anyway.