► New Range Rover Evoque Convertible tested
► 0-62 in 10.3sec, 49.6mpg; on sale now for £52k
► Ticks the boxes that its target buyers likely have
The Range Rover Evoque Convertible is as polarising as Donald Trump, and about as girthy - and we’re not talking about in the trouser department. It’s guaranteed to be a sales smash, but is it a big fat case of style over substance?
It’s a convertible SUV. I already hate it and nothing you can say will change my mind
That’s a shame because Land Rover has done an excellent job with the Evoque’s roof. The Evoque was never meant to be a cabrio but the engineering team has managed to retain much of the standard hardtop body’s stiffness, with only the occasional tremor from the rear-view mirror hinting at wobble.
With the roof up the Evoque is so quiet that you could easily believe you were in a coupe version – and there’s plenty of space on offer for four adults. In normal driving it feels surprisingly keen to change direction and the diesel can manage almost 50mpg.
If you want more performance at the expense of that economy there’s a 237bhp turbocharged petrol version, although we haven’t had the chance to drive it yet.
You’ve changed my mind. It sounds like a thoroughly excellent car and I am now absolutely convinced that a convertible SUV is a perfectly sensible idea
Not so fast. The convertiblised Evoque weighs a preposterous 1967kg, almost 300kg more than the coupe. That means its already lethargic diesel now feels about as potent as a camping generator, the car requiring 10.3 finger drumming seconds to reach 62mph.
That extra weight affects the handling too: any attempt to drive quickly turns into a mess of understeer and unchecked body movement, despite its initially eager responses. And this lethargy doesn’t come cheap: prices start at £47,500, and our HSE Dynamic Lux cost over £51k.
What’s it like when you venture off the beaten track?
We’re tempted to say ‘better than you expect,’ but this is a Land Rover product we’re talking about, don't forget. It’s got all the off-road ability most people are ever going to need, the limiting factor being the very road-biased tyres it comes with.
It benefits from a clever diff to apportion torque to the corner with most traction, as well as Land Rover’s usual Terrain Response modes and decent approach and departure angles. But we got stuck in a snowy field on our road rubber and had to be towed out. Embarrassing. And that was after we’d sprayed the interior and ourselves with mud and snow having given it the beans, with the steering locked over and the roof down in an attempt to get free.
Fit the right tyres, however, and this Evoque will take you anywhere. Oh go on, housewives of Wilmslow, we dare you...
The convertible Evoque is very impressive in parts and plain disappointing in others. We like driving and that’s a problem here, because this Evoque isn’t much fun and the almost-£50k this car costs puts you in reach of a brilliant Boxster S. Think of it instead as an old convertible cruiser that just happens to be pretty handy in the muck and you’ll enjoy it a whole lot more.
More importantly, the Evoque nails what it needs to get right to please the people it’s aimed at: it commands attention like a supercar, it’s practical enough, the cabin refinement is impressive, and the convertible conversion works well.
For the people currently waving chequebooks at Land Rover dealers for a space on the waiting list, those qualities count. The fact that no one else really makes anything like it also bears heavily in its favour, and compensates somewhat for its lack of speed and handling precision.
It's certainly a unique car in an increasingly homogenous world...
Read more Range Rover reviews here