The Range Rover Evoque has been around for a while now and is an incredibly popular and good looking compact SUV, although when an announcement was made that they were planning a convertible model – eyebrows raised.
If someone suggests a soft top 4×4 you would instantly thing Suzuki Jimny or Jeep Wrangler – few people in their right mind would ever mutter the words Range Rover or Land Rover, but someone, somewhere obviously did and someone else who overheard – thought it a great idea.
I never did dismiss this idea from Land Rover mainly due to the fact the Evoque is very much a lifestyle vehicle rather than one that will ever see much towing or off-road use – being utilised for the school run instead.
As such – what better way to arrive at the school gates than with the roof down and a legitimate excuse for a having a bad hair day? I guess the topless Evoque in that case is the beauty whilst the bad hair day occupant is the beast?
However –to avoid a bad hair day and be an absolute beauty yourself, the electrically retractable roof of the Evoque would need to be firmly in the closed position and at this point and in my opinion I feel the Evoque is a bit of a beast in the looks department.
Being the first premium compact convertible SUV on the market the Evoque doesn’t face any competition to date however I would expect something to come in the next few years from other premium brands with popular SUV’s – could sister company Jaguar take the roof off the F-Pace?
Along the side of the Evoque convertible are some visually striking lines while from all angles with the roof down I would maybe even go as far as saying it is quite a muscular looking SUV, an SUV with character and a real city slicker.
Alongside LED lighting technology, this model tested – a range topping HSE Dynamic Lux with additional Black Pack features 20-inch five-spoke satin black alloy wheels, darkened front fog lamps and rear light clusters along with glass black inserts around the body.
Due to the roof folding into the boot, load space is very restricted but I did manage to squeeze my big camera bag in along with a welly boot bag and a coat so expect a pair of carry-on flights cases with a hand bag or a couple of gym bags but don’t expect it to be suitable as a young family car.
Inside is incredibly recognisable due to a very similar layout and use of quality materials running across the full Land Rover range with great comfort and room up front on offer from this Evoque Convertible however I would say that rear leg room could be more generous for four adults to travel in comfort.
Leather trim is everywhere with varying options for colour and dash materials as you would expect from a premium brand along with heated electric seating up front the cabin is well laid out, easy to understand and seemed well put together.
Infotainment on the Evoque is in abundance thanks to the InControl Touch or InControl Touch Pro systems on offer allowing reverse camera, AM/FM, DAB radio, Bluetooth and Navigation along with everything else needed via the Pro system to keep in touch with the outside world from inside the Evoque. A Meridian audio speaker system also featured inside the model tested offering much improved quality of sounds within the soft top SUV.
Two engines are on offer – one petrol, the other a diesel both coming with a nine-speed auto gearbox and both are mated to the all-terrain-response four-wheel-drive system the brand is well known for.
The 2.0L petrol produces 240bhp with a 0-60mph time of 8.6 seconds whilst the 2.0L diesel unit produces 180bhp and gets to 60mph in 9.7 seconds – neither engine overly fast due to the extra weight carried by strengthening added on the convertible model.
The model tested over a weekend was the diesel which returned early 30’s mpg and although not overly fast I found it a great engine to be honest as it allowed the Evoque to cope well in the city and on a long run as well as covering miles along some meandering country lanes with refined ease.
Driving aids are plentiful also with park assists, surround 360 camera view, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and road sign recognition – on top of these safety features the model tested had a plethora of other systems in place such as all-terrain progress, terrain response, hill decent control with the option of wade sense.
Like its older brother, the original hard top Evoque, off-road ability is something that is bred into every Range Rover model though don’t expect to get too far off the beaten track as with the low slung roof-line comes a low ground clearance.
During a visit to Ireland Offroad Experience within Clandeboye Estate during my time with the Land Rover Belfast Evoque Convertible it coped incredibly well with fields, lanes and rather large puddles but didn’t venture into any heavily rutted ground due to clearance issues.
With pricing starting from £47,555 expect to pay in excess of £55,000 for a well loaded, top of the range model.
I find the Range Rover Evoque worryingly good looking, but only with the roof down – worryingly due to the fact it is a vehicle that really should not work but somehow manages to pull it off quite well – it is the beauty and the beast.
Would i own one? well i did kind of enjoy being high up with the top down i must admit – so yes !
Words and Photos: Graham Curry