It’s late night and there aren’t many cars on the road, which makes for a great time to take the Range Rover Evoque Convertible out for a spin. This introduction by Land Rover, which sports a soft top, is the lifestyle sibling of the popular off-roader, the Range Rover Evoque.
My partner and I are on a long stretch of road with nary a vehicle in sight, top down and enjoying the drive, when out of nowhere, our quiet bliss is interrupted by an echoing honk — strange because a check of our surroundings confirms we aren’t disobeying any traffic rules nor obstructing anyone.
But soon enough, the supposed honk-happy motorist comes up alongside us. Astride his motorbike, he turns, points at the car and unexpectedly gives us a thumbs-up, before racing off ahead. Clearly, our ride has attained his approval.
Top down, there’s no disputing that the Range Rover Evoque Convertible is a looker. It shares the Evoque’s athletic built, but without its metal roofing the four-wheel-drive has gone from handsome to seriously sexy. Roof up, the convertible has the familiar striking lines and muscular shoulder of the Evoque, although the overall look can take some getting used to. It isn’t unattractive. It’s just, well, different — like looking at a Mastiff with gentle blue eyes, instead of piercing brown ones.
What’s strange is that while a huge hunk of metal has been removed to make way for a fabric roof, the convertible still weighs in at over 1,900kg, a whopping 280kg heavier than the coupe. One explanation is that the engineers had to modify other areas of the car to maintain structural rigidity. Another is that they have been so uncompromising in their attempt to preserve the interior’s acoustics that the soft top is anything but lightweight. And yet another explanation is its motorised arms, which raises or lowers the roof in all of 18 seconds. Even at a speed of 50km/h, the mechanism — Z-shaped to ensure everything is stowed neatly — is oh-so silent that it barely even hums.
Regardless of where the extra weight is, the car behaves well on the tarmac. Its suspension has been engineered to handle the new mass, ensuring it doesn’t rumble or roll around clumsily. Also robust and responsive is its 2l engine, while its turbocharged powertrain produces a maximum output of 240 horses with 240Nm of torque. It goes from naught to 100kph in 8.6 seconds but it feels swifter than that — tap on the accelerator and the car propels forward with sports car-like finesse. Hefty as it may be, the Evoque Convertible proves to be nimble, taking corners better than expected.
As appealing as the car is to drive, it isn’t without some shortcomings. As with most convertibles, the Evoque is best driven with the top down. That’s because with the roof up, the visibility you get through the sliver of a back window is much to be desired.
Boot capacity in the Evoque has been drastically diminished. At only 251 litres in size, it’s half of what the hard-top offers, since much of the space is taken up for the foldable roof. Shove in a golf bag and there isn’t space to fit much else in. That means packing for weekend road trips will probably need to be more efficient now. There is, however, a middle flap that opens into the passenger cabin area, should you need to cart longer items.
If you’re in the market for a fun, everything-in-one ride, the Range Rover Evoque Convertible is one to try. In this car, you’ll get the excitement of riding a convertible, the drive performance of a turbocharged coupe and the thrilling experience of going off-road. Though I’d say, take it easy on the dirt because this is too pretty a ride. Then again, life’s too short to be so cautious.
LAND ROVER RANGE ROVER EVOQUE CONVERTIBLE
Engine: 1,999cc, turbocharged, in-line four-cylinder with direct injection
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Max power: 240bhp @ 5,800rpm
Max torque: 340Nm @ 1,750
Max speed: 209km/h
Acceleration from zero to 100km/h: 8.6 seconds
Combined fuel consumption: 8.6 litres per 100km
CO2 emission: 201g/km
Kerb weight: 1,936kg