loading Loading please wait....

EVOQUE MEETS VOGUE

EVOQUE MEETS VOGUE

by Louise Woodhams, 6th May 2016

Touted as the Convertible for all seasons, Louise Woodhams gets behind the wheel of the Evoque drop-top.


The press launch of the Range Rover Evoque Convertible comes 18 days after JLR announces that its hard-top sibling has reached the half-a-million production landmark. Not bad considering it’s only been on sale for just over four years. In fact, as the manufacturer’s fastest-selling Land Rover ever built I guess you can’t blame them for broadening the range with a soft-top version. As the world’s first luxury SUV convertible, the question on a lot of people’s lips is: was it a niche that needed filling?

Perhaps it was inevitable… as well as the regular SUVs, we’ve had super-small versions such as the Nissan Juke to sporty coupes like the BMW X6, so I guess it was the next logical step for Land Rover from a business point of view.

Four years after the concept was unveiled at Geneva Motor Show, when reactions on Twitter ranged from “it’s hideous” and “a pointless model” to “no other word other than beautiful”, myself and 21 other journalists are flown out to Leon in France to finally get behind the wheel. We are driving it to Courchevel, where befittingly luxury meets adventure, and, typical of Land Rover, undertake a few driving activities. Personally speaking, I would never buy one, and while I think it’s hideously ugly, I love the fact it harks back to the original Series I Land Rover when roof down off-roading for the marque began, although obviously it’s the first-ever convertible production from Range Rover. But while the design will always divide opinion, I can guarantee before even getting behind the wheel that it will be every as bit capable off-road. It is after all a Land Rover product – even if its target buyers will never exploit its potential. In the flesh, it’s certainly bold. Despite appearing identical to the Evoque below the glasshouse with that instantly recognisable rising waistline, the bodywork behind the front doors has been substantially re-engineered to accommodate the stowed roof mechanism.

The upper part of the rear arches have been redesigned, while the tailgate and spoiler are all new. Body coloured side skirts help to visually lower the car and with new frameless doors it ensures a cleaner profile with the roof down. The front bumper is deeper, featuring enlarged air intakes and slimline LED fogs, and together with twin exhaust outlets out back it looks more aggressive. All models feature gloss-black bonnet vents and Narvik Black components, but the optional Black Pack extends this to the exterior trim together with unique Satin Black 20-inch wheels, black exhaust tailpipe finish as well as darkened front, rear and fog lights, which combine to help give it a more dramatic appearance. There’s also a host of other accessories to allow customers to add their own stamp of individuality – as one would expect with a Range Rover. So, what’s like to drive? Well, none of the Evoque’s off-road capability has been lost in the conversion. And that's impressive when you consider the engineering challenges posed in trying to maintain torsional rigidity in a car with no roof structure.



As such significant chassis bracings support the unique load casings of a convertible model – actually increasing torsional rigidity over the Coupe model. And to compensate for the T he press launch of the Range Rover Evoque Convertible comes 18 days after JLR announces that its hard-top sibling has reached the half-a-million production landmark. Not bad considering it’s only been on sale for just over four years. In fact, as the manufacturer’s fastest-selling Land Rover ever built I guess you can’t blame them for broadening the range with a soft-top version.

As the world’s first luxury SUV convertible, the question on a lot of people’s lips is: was it a niche that needed filling? Perhaps it was inevitable… as well as the regular SUVs, we’ve had super-small versions such as the Nissan Juke to sporty coupes like the BMW X6, so I guess it was the next logical step for Land Rover from a business point of view. Four years after the concept was unveiled at Geneva Motor Show, when reactions on Twitter ranged from “it’s hideous” and “a pointless model” to “no other word other than beautiful”, myself and 21 other journalists are flown out to Leon in France to finally get behind the wheel. We are driving it to Courchevel, where befittingly luxury meets adventure, and, typical of Land Rover, undertake a few driving activities. Personally speaking, I would never buy one, and while I think it’s hideously ugly, I love the fact it harks back to the original Series I Land Rover when roof down off-roading for the marque began, although obviously it’s the first-ever convertible production from Range Rover. But while the design will always divide opinion, I can guarantee before even getting behind the wheel that it will be every as bit capable off-road. It is after all a Land Rover product – even if its target buyers will never exploit its potential. In the flesh, it’s certainly bold. Despite appearing identical to the Evoque below the glasshouse with that instantly recognisable rising waistline, the bodywork behind the front doors has been substantially re-engineered to accommodate the stowed roof mechanism.

The upper part of the rear arches have been redesigned, while the tailgate and spoiler are all new. Body coloured side skirts help to visually lower the car and with new frameless doors it ensures a cleaner profile with the roof down. The front bumper is deeper, featuring enlarged air intakes and slimline LED fogs, and together with twin exhaust outlets out back it looks more aggressive. All models feature gloss-black bonnet vents and Narvik Black components, but the optional Black Pack extends this to the exterior trim together with unique Satin Black 20-inch wheels, black exhaust tailpipe finish as well as darkened front, rear and fog lights, which combine to help give it a more dramatic appearance.

There’s also a host of other accessories to allow customers to add their own stamp of individuality – as one would expect with a Range Rover. So, what’s like to drive? Well, none of the Evoque’s off-road capability has been lost in the conversion. And that's impressive when you consider the engineering challenges posed in trying to maintain torsional rigidity in a car with no roof structure. As such significant chassis bracings support the unique load casings of a convertible model – actually increasing torsional rigidity over the Coupe model. And to compensate for the than its hard-top equivalent. Claimed average economy is cut from 57.6 mpg to 49.6 mpg while CO2 figures are hit too, rising from 129 g/km to 149 g/km. For those that fancy petrol, the 240bhp four-cylinder Si4 is an option. Both come with nine-speed automatic transmission only, For packaging and design reasons, a folding hard-top just wouldn’t have worked, so they opted for an acoustically-lined fabric roof that utilises a fabric Z-folding system to fold flush in a market-leading 18 seconds at up to 30 mph. It was subjected to 7000 test cycles, including having 4900 litres of water pummelled at it and 2000 virtual miles of the rough off-road terrain.



As a premium compact convertible, 12-way heated Oxford leather adjustable memory seats and configurable mood lighting come as standard. The dashboard is minimal and luxury materials and soft-touch surfaces all add to the Evoque experience. The 251 litres of boot capacity mean the Convertible can carry less than half the cargo of the standard hard-top three-door Evoque,. An optional ski-hatch does at least provide extra flexibility. An extensive range of Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems can be specified and include: 360 Park Distance Control with virtual object tracking along the sides of the car to help give confidence in confined situations; Autonomous Emergency Braking to help avoid accidents when travelling at speeds below 21mph; Lane-Keeping Assist which complements Land-Departure Warning and warns the driver if they drift out of lane by vibrating the steering wheel and initiates a gentle steering input should it detect the driver is unintentionally changing lanes; and Driver Condition Monitor which helps to detect the onset of drowsiness alerting the driver via an audible and visual warning. Other advance safety technology includes the optional adaptive full LED headlamps that follow the driver’s steering inputs increasing light coverage through corners, while Adaptive Cruise Control uses an on-board radar system to monitor traffic in front of the vehicle and adjust speed automatically to maintain a safe distance. It also features a rollover protection system, so if the car senses it's going to flip onto its roof, two aluminium rollover bars deploy from the rear bodywork in 90 milliseconds.



Inside the high definition TFT instrument panel displays the usual range of information, while a new laser-based head-up display shows key vehicle data. It also gains the latest InControl Touch Pro system with its 10.2 inch multi-touch screen with a customisable homepage and 3G connectivity. It features Land Rover’s next generation navigation system, and with the InControl Connect Pack you can communicate remotely with your car through your smartphone, allowing you to plan and set routes, set the climate control, check your fuel levels and even recall your last parking space wherever you are. Smart. The optional Meridian 660 watt Surround Sound System has been designed especially for this vehicle with the 12 speakers and a dual channel subwoofer and amplifier optimally positioned around the cabin. First UK customer deliveries will be in June will cost you an extra £5200 for the diesel HSE Dynamic. For an extra £4200 – £51,700 in total – you can upgrade to the HSE Dynamic Lux.

The Evoque created the luxury compact SUV market, and there's no doubt it will create the luxury compact SUV Convertible market. No compromises have been made with this car, so all the Evoque customer has to do is decide which roof they want. Considering their market – let’s be honest here, yummy mummies, you can see why Land Rover decided to create this car. As the first one of its kind to do it, and with 1500 orders before anyone’s ever driven it, it’ll be interesting to see if anyone else dares to follow suit.

Related content