Toronto Star

Land Rover debuts its off-roading convertibl­e

- Emily Atkins

LOS ANGELES— Convertibl­e and SUV. Two words that don’t usually go together have been fused with the release of the 2017 Land Rover Evoque convertibl­e.

It’s appropriat­e that this improbable vehicle had its North American launch in L.A., where year-round sunshine and love for the offbeat will make it a likely success.

Gerry McGovern, Land Rover design director and chief creative officer, said the car had “bags of character and a splash of glamour.”

“We wanted to do something that was brave and different,” said Finbar McFall, Jaguar Land Rover’s product marketing director, in an interview.

“There was nothing else like it, so we wanted to bring this concept to market.”

McFall said they expect many buyers will use the Evoque convertibl­e as their daily driver, wherever they live.

“It’s first and foremost still a Land Rover,” he said. “There’s a rational as well as emotional reason for buying this car.”

With the top up, it’s a two-door, four-seat compact SUV that — from the greenhouse down — looks almost exactly like its coupe sibling.

Where it differs is mostly under the skin, with significan­t re-engineerin­g on the bodywork behind the doors to accommodat­e the roof mechanism and create stowage space for the roof itself.

Jaguar XE promotion will let prospectiv­e buyers star in their own car-chase movie

“Producing a convertibl­e Range Rover presented a unique set of engineerin­g challenges, including maintainin­g torsional rigidity despite the removal of the roof structure (and) providing rollover protection in an open-top vehicle designed to tilt to 35 degrees,” said Alan Volkaerts, Land Rover vehicle line director.

Improvemen­ts to the chassis designed to counteract the lack of roof created a vehicle with better torsional rigidity than the coupe model, theoretica­lly delivering a comparable driving experience.

There are also design changes to the upper rear fenders, tailgate and spoiler.

Luggage space has been compromise­d to make room for the roof, and the 251-litre, long, low trunk is accessed through a small, solid rear liftgate.

It’s also got a pass-through for skis, which seems odd for a convertibl­e. But since Jaguar likes to refer to the convertibl­e Evoque as a “convertibl­e for all seasons,” maybe it’s not just for water skis.

The soft top (available only in black) is insulated for sound deadening and can be operated at speeds up to 50 km/h and takes 18 seconds to open and 21 seconds to close.

Canadian buyers will have only one trim on offer, the top-of-the-line HSE, starting at $64,990 and available next spring.

Jaguar also debuted its XE sport sedan and F-PACE crossover at the show. The XE is an entry-level fourdoor sporty sedan designed to appeal to millennial buyers.

Marketing efforts are being supported by the cross-continenta­l, sixcity Art of Performanc­e Tour. It involves a film set and driving experience designed to let prospectiv­e buyers star in their own car-chase movie.

The company hopes the engagement and social media traction will create a buzz around the car which, with the F-PACE, rounds out the Jaguar family to five.

It will come with a 2-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel starting at $45,000, and a 3-litre, 340-hp V6 that begins at $48,500.

The F-PACE was first revealed at the Frankfurt auto show in September and is Jaguar’s first foray into the crossover segment. F-PACE pricing starts from $53,900 for V6 gas engines and $49,900 for four-cylinder diesel engines. It will be available here next spring. Freelance writer Emily Atkins is a regular contributo­r to Toronto Star Wheels. For this story, her expenses were paid by Jaguar Land Rover. To reach her, emails and put her name in

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