TELL ME ABOUT THIS CAR
The Evoque Convertible is a bit of an unusual proposition. As a mid-sized luxury convertible SUV, it straddles a multitude of segments and is, in effect, the only vehicle of its type on sale in Australia. Convertible SUVs have been done before overseas, but the Evoque is the first time we’ve seen one in local showrooms.
Unlike regular SUVs, its primary function isn’t to be practical or to take its owners far off the beaten track, it’s to turn heads – and the Evoque Convertible does so with incredible ease. While the concept of a drop-top luxury SUV may divide opinion, virtually everyone wants to have a look. If you crave the attention of others, the Evoque delivers exactly that.
But does it lose anything in the transition from tintop to ragtop? Read on.
- The Evoque Convertible’s styling is its strong suit, and for an SUV that not only rejects a traditional wagon bodystyle but a fixed roof altogether, it actually looks fairly handsome with the roof lowered. The soft top’s silhouette when raised has a slightly awkward rake to the rear screen that makes it look like an overgrown hatchback, but for something that treads so far outside of the norm it’s actually a decent piece of design.
- And speaking of the roof, it folds away in 18 seconds and raises in 21 seconds, with either operation able to be carried out at speeds up to 50km/h – quite a high speed threshold in convertible terms. With an acoustic lining, the Evoque Convertible’s black fabric top also does a reasonable job of isolating wind noise.
- The Evoque Convertible is available with two engines – a petrol 2.0 turbo or a 2.0-litre turbo diesel. The diesel – which is a member of Land Rover’s all-new Ingenium engine family – is particularly impressive in terms of its refinement, with noise and vibration suppressed to an almost petrol-like level.
- Though it’s pitched at fashion-conscious city slickers, the Evoque Convertible still has the ability to get its hands dirty off-road. All Convertible variants are equipped with a reactive all-wheel drive system with multiple terrain modes to help it clamber over rocks, mud or sand, and the standard nine-speed transmission is geared low enough to make the absence of a dual-range gearbox a moot point.
- You might not have expected it, but the Evoque Convertible’s back seats are plenty comfortable for adults. Knee room and foot room are a tad on the tight side, but no worse than any other similarly-sized four-seat convertible. Getting in and out is also made easier thanks to the electric slide button on the front seat ‘shoulders’, and the back seats don’t feel all that claustrophobic when the roof is up. There are even face-level air vents back there!
- The Evoque Convertible’s top-hinged tailgate is an ergonomic faux pas. Because it swings out and upward – rather than out and downward – it limits your view of what’s inside the boot. You’ll need to stoop to see what’s in there, and loading big items isn’t as easy as it could be.
- Speaking of the boot, the Evoque Convertible’s luggage space measures a tiny 251 litres. Having the roof up or down makes no difference to boot capacity, but countering that is the fact Range Rover stings you extra for something as basic as a ski port so you can load long items.
- As you’d expect for such a sizable convertible, there’s a touch of scuttle shake – that tell-tale shimmy of the steering wheel in your hands – when out on the open road. It’s the result of the loss in torsional rigidity that occurs when a roof is no longer part of a car’s structure, and it does make the Evoque Convertible feel a little wobblier than its regular-roofed counterparts
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
There are no other choices when it comes to luxury SUV convertibles, so the Evoque Convertible sits all by its lonesome in a niche of its own creation.
However if you look at convertibles of other types, similarly-priced options include the BMW 4 Series Convertible and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet.