The world's first luxury convertible SUV. Sure, there are other SUVs with soft-tops, notably early Land Rover Defenders and the Jeep Wrangler, but the new Evoque takes the concept to a new place.
It offers a combination of comfort and refinement not previously seen in an SUV with a removable roof. This is a luxury car, an SUV and a convertible wrapped up into one unique package.
If you think it sounds like a silly idea remember that's the same thing people said when Mercedes introduced the CLS 'four-door coupe' and BMW X6 the 'SUV coupe' - and look at how those have been quickly embraced and copied.
Range Rover has opted for a top-heavy line-up, based on its experience with the three-door Evoque 'coupe'. That means the range starts at $84,948 (plus on-road costs) for the petrol powered Si4 SE Dynamic, while the better equipped HSE Dynamic we're testing here is priced from $92,800.
A turbo diesel engine is available in both trim levels; $85,343 for the SE and $93,195 for the HSE.
Standard equipment in the HSE Dynamic includes Land Rover's latest InControl Touch Pro infotainment system that includes navigation and a 10.2-inch full colour touchscreen, as well as 14-way electrically adjustable front seats, a reversing camera plus front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and 19-inch alloys.
The Si4 gets a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine boasting a healthy 177kW of power and 340Nm of torque. Those are hot hatch figures, but thanks to an additional 200kg of underbody bracing to compensate for the missing roof the performance of the Evoque is dulled slightly.
It still has respectable acceleration and pulling power from low down in the rev range but it can feel laboured at times. A element of that sluggish reaction can also be put down to the nine-speed automatic transmission, which can occasionally have trouble picking the right gear at the right time.
The extra weight also takes its toll on fuel economy, using 8.6-litres per 100km on the combined cycle.
It may be a convertible but it's still a Land Rover, so that means it has to be capable off-road. To that end both Terrain Response System and Hill Descent Control are standard items on the Evoque soft-top to make it's capable of getting its alloy wheels dirty.
Not that many buyers will like hit the wilderness in the Evoque but it is nice to know it is seriously capable of going off-road.
On the road though it is well mannered, too. The suspension is stiffer to account for the extra weight, so while the ride is firmer than the rest of the Evoque range, it isn't harsh and there is still enough compliance.
The handling is neutral and while visibility is bad when the roof is up it is generally easy to navigate around town.
Putting the roof up and down is easy, taking just 18 seconds and possible at speeds up to 48km/h.
Thankfully the button for the roof is the only new addition to the otherwise stylish and sophisticated cabin. Despite the Evoque now more than six years it still looks contemporary inside, a fact helped by the new large infotainment screen.
Space inside is surprisingly good for a compact SUV with a fabric roof. Space up front is no different than the regular three-door, but in the rear there is still respectable room.
The high roofline of the fabric top means there is good headroom for adults and legroom is respectable.
The boot space is compromised though, measuring only 251-litres, which means only smaller bags can fit inside.
Autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning are standard, along with the usual front airbags and rollover protection, a pair of bars that pop out of the body in the event of an accident.
While at first it may seem like a strange idea, taking the roof off an SUV, but the more you drive the Evoque Convertible the more sense it makes. The popularity of SUVs so no sign of slowing down anytime in the near future, so it makes perfect sense that a brand like Range Rover would stretch the concept and give customers a new type of SUV to consider.
This is the perfect car for the person who has been torn between buying an SUV to fit in with the latest trends and the desire for a convertible.
Up until now luxury convertibles have been limited to the likes of the BMW 4-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, now there is a totally new option for people to consider.
Sure, it won't be a best-seller but it should find a strong and loyal customer base and could ultimately spawn rivals.
While it has no direct competition the natural rivals to the Evoque are the German prestige convertibles. Namely the BMW 420i (from $85,855), Audi A5 1.8 TFSI (from $81,155) and Mercedes-Benz C200 Cabriolet (from $85,900).
2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible HSE Dynamic Si4 pricing and specifications
- Price: From $92,800 plus on-road costs
- Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
- Power: 177kW at 5800rpm
- Torque: 340Nm at 1750rpm
- Transmission: Nine-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
- Fuel use: 8.6L/100km
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