Land Rover is exploring a convertible version of the Evoque, and will make a production decision ‘within six months’.
Design director Gerry McGovern unveiled the ‘fresh out of the workshop’ concept at Pinewood Studios today (February 24); the car will make its public debut at the Geneva show in March. The Evoque convertible concept has a powered soft-top roof with a glass rear screen, which stows in a recess below the rear deck. The boot is re-engineered to fold down like the original Mini’s tailgate, while pop up rollover protection would be packaged behind the rear seats.
‘Land Rover has a history of creating new segments; with the convertible, we believe we have an opportunity to do it again,’ said McGovern. ‘It’s another twist on the Evoque story.’
The Evoque coupe’s waistline, which rises to the rear of the vehicle, helped McGovern and his team neatly package the roof. The convertible gets a bespoke alloy-wheel design, and a pimento red leather interior to offset the causeway grey exterior paint.
‘The Evoque lends itself beautifully to the notion of a convertible,’ said McGovern. ‘It’s distinctive and desirable, and the open top lends a spirit of freedom and adventure. A convertible would be as capable as any Land Rover.’
An engineering team under David Mitchell will look at the underbody stiffening required to compensate for the chopped roof. There’s still some fettling to do: McGovern is keen to lower the suspension to drop the body down, to ensure the rear end doesn’t look too bluff and maintain the Evoque’s agile handling.
After Geneva, Land Rover will show the Evoque convertible at the New York show to gauge reaction in the US market, critical for convertible sales. Internally, the company would look for the soft-top to take 10 to 15% of production, benchmarking BMW’s 3-series drop-top.
Doing the convertible is a ‘no brainer,’ McGovern half-jokes, but naturally there’s a business case to build. Obvious variables include volumes and list price, but other factors to be considered include the impact on other engineering projects, such as the next-generation Range Rovers and the replacement Defender.
Land Rover brand director John Edwards says the company will ‘make the call on production within six months’. The journey to showrooms would take 24-30 months.
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