Four years after its concept debut, Range Rover’s Evoque convertible has come to fruition. Its hard top sibling has already sold more than half a million units since it was launched in 2011 and over 1,500 orders have so far been placed for the convertible variant.
What is it?
The Evoque convertible is the world’s first convertible compact SUV. Based on the same platform as the Evoque, and featuring much of the same spec, the convertible looks luxurious. The car’s chassis has received strengthening in order to maintain the car’s torsional rigidity, despite its lack of roof.
What’s under the bonnet?
A 2.0-litre turbocharged Ingenium diesel engine powers the 4×4, putting out 180PS and 430Nm of torque through the Efficient Driveline four-wheel-drive system. This system varies the flow of torque between the front and rear wheels in different driving conditions.
Fuel economy is a modest 49.6mpg while the diesel emits 149g of C02 per kilometre, making it theoretically one of the most fuel efficient Range Rovers available.
The 9-speed automatic gearbox is from the standard Evoque. The added weight of the chassis – 1,967kg compared to the coupe’s 1,690kg – is noticeable when accelerating out of corners, though switching into its semi-automatic function and making use of the steering wheel mounted paddles proves slightly more responsive.
What’s the spec like?
A 10.2inch touchscreen allows the driver to navigate using easy pinch and swipe motions even whilst driving. However, it can prove difficult to read when the roof is down.
Safety is accounted for by hidden aluminium roll over bars, which automatically deploy in the event of an accident.
The convertible is not just a summer fancy. Boasting a 251litre boot, 500mm water wade ability, all terrain progress control and a ski hatch, it is a comfortable and relatively practical drive.
The roof can operate at speeds of up to 30mph and, unlike some other convertibles, neither rear visibility nor boot capacity is compromised when the roof is folded down.
Like for like, the Evoque convertible has no rivals. It is likely to draw a customer base from fans of luxury D-segment convertibles, and drivers of the original Evoque are also expected to be tempted.
What’s it like to drive?
The 9-speed gearbox feels too sluggish for the convertible, due to the weight of the strengthened chassis. However, in its position as the new it-car for fashionistas, it is unlikely that the convertible will be tackling much more than the occasional country road.
Acceleration to 60mph takes 9.7seconds while the vehicle tops out at 121mph and steering is reassuringly firm at both high and low speeds.
Wind noise is reduced in convertible form thanks to clever aerodynamics and an optional wind deflector, meaning that noise and buffeting in the front of the cabin is limited, and audible conversations can be held even at motorway speeds.
As 4x4s go, the Evoque convertible wouldn’t be the obvious choice. Practicality is seriously limited, and realistically the model would only provide a comfortable long distance journey for two.
But drivers wanting the benefits of both a 4×4 and a soft top can’t go wrong. Perhaps the model could do with some refinement, but for the first of its kind it will certainly set a precedent.
by James Baggott