An Evoque for All Seasons

Sam Kessler (Online Editor)
The ultimate urbanite 4X4 takes releases its new convertible onto - and off of - the road

Off-roaders have a hard life. The only times they’re guaranteed to see the light of day is when there’s some hard work to do; high waters, snow and ice, muddy countryside, take your pick. Other than that, they’re relegated in favour of something a little sportier, preferably something with a retractable roof if it’s sunny.

The reasons are pretty obvious. You have a 4X4 for practical reasons, a sports car for fun – there’s nothing like cruising with the top down after all, and big, bulky off-roaders aren’t exactly the most elegant of cars. The two are on opposite ends of the spectrum, that’s for sure. But it doesn’t mean they can’t be spliced together – that’s what the SUV is for.

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The Evoque’s always been a more modern, urban interpretation of the larger, more rugged Range Rover or the iconic if somewhat basic Defender. Smaller, sleeker and altogether sportier, the SUV is essentially the halfway house between a Jaguar and a Range Rover, one that’s now been built a new, retractable roof.

The Evoque Convertible goes one step further toward making the Evoque the most versatile Land Rover ever. It’s always been one of the best looking SUVs in the world and even with things like the Bentayga appearing here and there it doesn’t have all that much competition.

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Those compact, muscular lines and tapered shape are still present in the convertible and, if anything, look all the better with the roof down. In fact, retracting the fabric top alleviates some of its innate boxiness. Not that it’s ever looked squashed, but in the 18 seconds it takes to put the roof down, everything gets streamlined and far more athletic.

That 18 second retraction should give some indication of the level of technology the new Evoque is privy to. The most advanced multimedia system of any Land Rover – a manufacturer well-known for it - the InControl Touch Pro system is the infotainment envy of travellers everywhere. With a sophisticated routing system, it makes planning your journey the work of seconds and you’d need to actively try at it to get lost.

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As with practically every convertible that originally had five seats, the Evoque has gone down to four in its newest version. That said, there’s still a good amount of space per person and somehow the folded-up roof doesn’t eat into storage space nearly as much as you’d expect.  Despite the new mechanism, it still makes the most out of the space it has.

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Land Rover are also billing the car as the first luxury SUV convertible which, until Bentley’s inevitable retort comes in a year or two, is perfectly true. Fixtures and fittings are wonderfully solid-feeling, particularly clad in sumptuous Oxford leather. There’s no superfluity – lines are clean and architectural – but it’s a far more comfortable interior than you’d ever expect from an off-roader.

And an off-roader it is. With all these changes and enhancements, the added weight the convertible inevitably has and all the technological advancements, the Evoque losing some of its terrain-eating power is a genuine concern. Until you actually try it out.

Plenty more tech has found its way into making the Evoque Convertible sure-footed anywhere you care to take it. All-Terrain Progress Control for hills, snow and deserts and Wade Sensing for treacherous water crossings, it wouldn’t be that surprising to see it tackle a near-vertical mountainside. We wouldn’t advise trying it though.

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So it has all the capabilities of its 4X4 forefathers and then some, so any practical concerns can be left by the wayside. Then what about if, for whatever crazy reason you can think of, you decide to use an actual road? Well it’s definitely not a sports car, though for any vehicle of this size, 0-60 in around 10 seconds isn’t too shabby. It also manages a pretty impressive 149g/km of CO2, if you’re particularly worried about staying green.

With the top up, the Evoque is as it’s ever been, the ideal compact off-roader. Should the sun shine and the roof comes down, it becomes another vehicle entirely, letting the outside in rather than firmly locking the elements out. It’s a versatile driving experience that, while it won’t exactly leave your sports car of choice in the shadows, should definitely see a lot of sunlight itself – even outside of monsoon season.

Range Rover Evoque Convertible HSE Dynamic Lux, £51,700

Range Rover Evoque Convertible

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