► Convertible arrives four years after concept
► Practicality compromised, off-roading ability isn’t
► Attracting attention on- and off-road from spring 2016
A topless Range Rover sounds as likely as sling-backed Hunter wellingtons and Barbour-branded bikinis but the new Evoque Convertible’s no 4x4 folly.
Land Rover’s got form when it comes to soft-tops, after all. Solihull’s original off-roader was roofless and the Softback moniker was applied to the semi-cabriolet first-generation Freelander. This Range Rover Evoque Convertible’s something altogether different: the omnipresent premium compact SUV’s been fitted with a ‘proper’ fabric hood – the world’s largest, too.
So, it’s just a Range Rover Evoque without a roof?
No, there’s more to the Evoque Convertible than a giant pram-like contraption usurping the three-door Coupe’s tapering silhouette and gun-turret glasshouse.
Close to 280kg of additional strengthening’s been engineered into the structure, with extra floor bracing and windscreen surround reinforcement. Its doors are unique, too; although the skins look the same they’ve been substantially reworked to increase strength. Surprisingly, this results in an increase in torsional rigidity over the Coupe.
Off-road – think muddy inclines and meandering streams, not gravel driveways – it feels every inch a Land Rover, able to tilt onto its side at up to 35 degrees without troubling the Roll-Over Protection Device (RPD).
The RPD’s sensors are primed to monitor for more sudden changes in body angle than are typically experienced away from the asphalt, ensuring the two aluminium roll-over hoops only have their 90-millisecond deployment demonstrated when they’re genuinely needed.
What else is new about the Range Rover Evoque Convertible?
That familiar Evoque visual squatness and aggressively-angled belt line have been preserved in the Convertible transition, although the Geneva 2012 concept’s roof-hiding rigid tonneau’s been ditched in the productionisation process.
In comes an electrically-operated, Webasto-developed ‘Z-fold’ soft-top, the front portion of which doubles as the hood cover when concertinaed behind the rear seats. Lowering it takes 18 seconds – three seconds more to close it again – at speeds of up to 30mph.
Unsurprisingly for such a flamboyant flagship, practicality’s compromised compared to the hard-top Evoques. The Convertible’s a strict four-seater – albeit with adult-sized space roof-up or -down – while the boot’s been reduced by 169 litres to 251.
There’s no clever cantilevering for the bespoilered boot lid either, instead it rises at an angle that makes access awkward to anyone but those with a pilates penchant.
2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible engines
- Si4: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo petrol engine, 237bhp, 33mpg, 201g/km CO2, 0-62mph in 8.6sec
- Ingenium TD4: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbodiesel engine, 178bhp, 50mpg, 149g/km CO2, 0-62mph in 10.3sec
A nine-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive are standard with both engines.
When can I buy a Range Rover Evoque Convertible?
Assuming you’re a violet proudly in full bloom, sales begin in spring 2016. Prices have yet to be confirmed but we expect them to be on the high side given that the equivalently-equipped three-door Evoque Coupes already cost from £42,000.
Only being available in HSE Dynamic and HSE Dynamic Lux guises reinforces the Convertible’s premium niche within already expensive segment, but exclusivity’s rarely served cheaply.