► Range Rover Evoque Convertible is go!
► Soft-top 4x4 arrives in 2016
► Confirmed at Geneva motor show
Land Rover today confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets in the industry: it will launch the oddball Range Rover Evoque Convertible in 2016, following in the barely visible tyre tracks of the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet.
The news was announced at the Geneva motor show, as the company issued the first official photographs of the soft-top off-roader - being driven underground through the Crossrail tunnels beneath the streets of London.
Sounds like the best place for the Evoque cabrio!
Steady on… Land Rover is adamant there is a demand for a convertible crossover, albeit a small niche. Remember that this company sells a lot of cars in warmer climes such as the west coast of America and the Middle East.
Granted, buyers in seriously hot countries prefer tin-tops, but their market research suggests they can exploit a small but profitable niche for those wanting high-up command driving positions, bijou Range Rover design and al fresco motoring in one vogueish package.
These first official hand-out pictures prove the car will be a four-seater with a canvas roof and what looks like they might be pyrotechnic pop-up bars behind the rear pews to keep passengers safe in a rollover accident. Click here to see our earlier spyshots of the car testing on UK roads.
What else do we know about the Range Rover Evoque Convertible?
No firm details have been issued yet. Land Rover has merely confirmed the soft-top will be built alongside regular Evoques in its Halewood, UK factory in north-west England from 2016. The newly facelifted crossover range is also being shown at this year's Geneva show.
The Crossrail stunt is a clever PR trick. The new tunnels stretch 26 miles across London and are designed to ease congestion on the existing train network; it’s one of the biggest construction projects in Europe and has been underway since 2009.
Land Rover has subterranean history with the Evoque. At launch in 2011 the company pulled a similar stunt when journalists drove cars through the Edge Hill Tunnel in Liverpool, near the factory. In London, it had to crane the Evoque underground to do some light off-roading along the 6.2m wide passage.
Murray Dietsch, director of Land Rover programmes, said: ‘The tunnels are still under construction, so we had a unique opportunity to explore the vehicle’s all-terrain ability in unchartered territory.’
Expect to see the car fully unveiled later in 2015 before its market launch next year.
Click here to see what the strange disguise on this Evoque prototype is all about.