CAR magazine has papped the best spy photos yet of the new 2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible, the mutant SUV that’s joining the soft-top cabriolet club.
This is an unusual car indeed; the only other 4x4 convertible we can think of is the strange open-top Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet, which was deemed too weird to sell in the UK.
Land Rover showed the Range Rover Evoque Convertible Concept at the 2012 Geneva motor show to ‘explore the potential for the world's first premium convertible SUV.’ These pictures prove they were deadly serious.
Why chop the top off the Evoque?
Gaydon calls this concept ‘another white space product… continuing Land Rover’s tradition for creating and leading new market segments.’
The regular Evoque range has proven a success for the 4x4 specialist, brining in a horde of new customers to the brand who value it as much for its urban posing power as its ability to climb a 1:2 gradient.
So lopping the roof off the fashionable SUV is merely a way of reaching out to a micro niche of buyer who craves open-air thrills in a distinctive, fashionable bodyshell. The insulated canvas roof will lower electrically to leave a completely flat rear deck.
This most unusual of scoops is a reflection of an ever-fragmenting market, as manufacturers increasingly blur the boundaries between genres. If you ever wondered ‘What comes after the crossover?’, this is a pretty good indication of the segment-bending future…
Design director Gerry McGovern on the Evoque Convertible
It’s enlightening to revisit the comments made by the car’s creators back at the Geneva show two years ago, accompanying the concept’s debut.
‘The Evoque lends itself beautifully to the idea of a convertible,’ said McGovern. ‘This study is not a traditional convertible design execution - instead we have worked with the balance of the Evoque's lines to retain its distinctive shape and create something that is unique and, we believe, highly desirable.’
Our spy photos show that Land Rover has stuck with the show car’s three-door coupe bodyshell, rather than shoehorn in the extra pair of doors of the best-selling Evoque. It is a full four-seater, though.
A canvas roof has been retained with what we believe is a pyrotechnic rollover protection bar and - we have to admit - we’re surprised how A3 Cabriolet-ish it looks from some angles. And that speaks volumes for the kind of customer they’re chasing for this most unusual of niches.
Click here for our Range Rover Evoque long-term test review.
When can I buy one?
No official statement has been made by Land Rover yet. But CAR expects a formal announcement later in 2015, with production due in 2016. The Evoque range is due to be upgraded soon with the latest Jaguar Land Rover Ingenium engines and it is likely that they’ll be fitted to the new SUV soft-top.
No word yet on Evoque Convertible prices and specs, but we’d bank on a £1500-2000 premium over the regular tin-top SUV. Available only on higher-powered Evoques initially, that points to a starting price north of £40,000.