When the first news of the Range Rover Evoque Convertible broke I remember my reaction. It could probably be summed up in four words: “That’s just wrong”. But, why is it wrong? Probably just because no other mainstream manufacturer has ever offered a stylish compact convertible SUV like it, so we don’t have a preconceived idea of why it might be good and who would want to buy one.
Casting preconceptions aside, it seems an appealing concept. This is a real vehicle for all seasons. After all, an SUV is all about being able to get out into the great outdoors and, if the weather is at all clement, why would you want to cocoon yourself in a metal and glass box?
Come the onset of winter that well-insulated roof will keep you cosy as the go-anywhere ability maintains mobility as lesser cars slither to a halt on the white stuff.
Fast forward to a rather grey and damp day on Loch Lomond. Not exactly the weather for testing a convertible. But, by leaving our drive until as late as possible in the day we caught the best of the day’s weather and were able to get a quick drive up the twisty lochside roads with the roof down. Even when a light shower did give us cause to consider raising the roof we found – just as the Land Rover people had said – that the rain tends to blow over the top of the cabin.
On the one occasion when the rain got more persistent, we were able to slow down to 30mph and raise the roof. It takes just 21 seconds.
If you think about it, an off-road convertible needs to be very strong and rigid. We’ve all seen pictures of Land Rovers with wheels at all sorts of jaunty angles as they articulate over rough ground. That sort of behaviour puts quite a twisting stress on the body.
So, I was expecting the Evoque Convertible to feel quite rigid and it did. But, usually, with any convertible, the lack of a rigid roof means there is a little more shake (scuttle shake as us old guard call it). Usually these days it is not a case of seeing the whole windscreen shaking independently of the rest of the body. With more rigid modern cars, you tend to see it in the way the rear view mirror shakes in relation to the view out the back.
On the Evoque Convertible you have to look very closely to detect any shake. This is clearly one very rigid convertible.
This solidity adds to the quality feel of the Evoque Convertible. The fit and trim is a match for the conventional Evoque.
Even in the “iffy” weather that punctuated a run of Indian summer weather, the Evoque Cabriolet felt appealing. You always feel more a part of the countryside with no roof. You smell the woods as you drive through them. You have an unrestricted view around and above you – useful when you have Highland mountains towering above.
Behind the wheel in this magnificent country it all made sense. Convertible SUVs may not be common but now the question on my mind was why it had seemed so odd as a concept.
You don’t even sacrifice a lot of practicality – yes there are only two doors and you lose the tailgate, but there’s still room for four passengers and 251 litres of luggage.
Maybe Land Rover do have something here, after all, and the Evoque is exactly the right model for a convertible version. The soft top adds to the stylish image that has been so important to the Evoque’s extraordinary sales success.
Even the fact that it ends up quite a costly option, won’t put a lot of buyers off. It’s never going to constitute a huge proportion of Evoque sales in this country (maybe more in the French or Italian Riviera and other hotter places around the world). But, as well as selling in its own right, the Evoque Convertible is a halo model that will do nothing but enhance the standing of the Evoque.
Pricing for the Range Rover Evoque Convertible begins at £47,500 for the TD4 HSE Dynamic.