SUV’s and crossovers are among the best selling vehicles in Canada and the United States. They offer a level of cargo space and practicality you typically won’t get with a car, and these days, they can even be fuel efficient. The format of an SUV/CUV has remained relatively unchanged since its inception and it’s something Land Rover has capitalized on throughout its history. While the brand is solely dedicated to the SUV, is the next logical step a complete shakeup of the formula? Land Rover has done just that with its latest offering: the Range Rover Evoque convertible.
As part of a new series reviewing autos, Global News put the new Range Rover Evoque Convertible to the test.
What is it?
The Range Rover Evoque convertible is possibly the least practical compact SUV you can buy. It has two doors, a small back seat and a tiny trunk. But the real focal point is its lack of a solid roof. The new Evoque convertible is fitted with a power folding canvas roof. Trunk space was sacrificed so the roof could be stored when folded down. The Range Rover Evoque, which counts Victoria Beckham among its design team, is a hot seller. When launched, it featured a two and four door model. The convertible replaces the two door model in Land Rover’s vehicle lineup. But it’ll also cost you over $15,000 over the price of the four-door, and that’s before options, taxes and delivery.
Does it look good?
From its launch, the Evoque has always put style and design in the forefront. The convertible continues that tradition. With the roof down, the Evoque convertible will get you noticed. The design can be awkward at certain angles, but generally scores high. The Evoque convertible demands attention, and it certainly gets it — both good and bad. The styling starts to suffer when the roof is up. If you do happen to get caught in some nasty weather, the electronic roof functions at speeds of up to 48 kilometres per hour.
The stylish touches continue inside as well. The layout of the dashboard is modern and intuitive with liberal use of aluminium accents. The amount of hard plastics on a car costing nearly $70,000 is unfortunate, however. Some complaints arise in the forced use of the car’s touchscreen. An example is shutting down the climate control. Temperature and vent selection can be done through traditional buttons on the dashboard, but to turn off heating or air, one must navigate through the touchscreen menu, which can potentially be hazardous when driving.
It looks nice, but is it actually nice?
Sitting inside of the convertible is mostly pleasant. Whether the roof is down or up, the driver and his or her passenger in front will be comfortable. The same cannot be said for anyone in the tight back seats. Children and shorter people will be fine, but the average adult may find legroom lacking. With the top down, wind and road noise is more apparent, but not overwhelming. You can still have a conversation without shouting and your favourite music won’t be drowned out. The cabin is much quieter with the roof up, but don’t expect hardtop levels of sound isolation. The car is full of luxury goodies, including a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, massaging seats and interior lighting with customizable colours.
How does it drive?
Driving the Evoque convertible is certainly an experience. It’s not always easy to tell if you look cool, silly, or perhaps both. But at the very least, it’s comfortable, roof up or down. Long road trips and quick jaunts through tight city streets are a breeze. Drivers won’t get out of the car feeling sore or fatigued. Optional amenities like the massaging seats will help with that. Being an SUV, the Evoque has a much higher ride height than a typical car, helping it soak up bumps, potholes and rough road surfaces without an uncomfortable impact to the driver and any passengers. While it’s unlikely the Evoque convertible will ever see any terrain other than asphalt, it can traverse surfaces coated in mud, snow and gravel. It can even wade through water as deep as 20 inches. But maybe put the roof up for that last one.
Powering the Evoque is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a nine-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifters. It’s not the most exhilarating or engaging engine, but it has no problem hauling the car around and getting it up to speed. It’s even rather efficient, with fuel economy ratings of up to 7.0 L/100 km, or about 28 miles to the gallon on premium fuel.
Why should I buy one?
The market for a two-door roofless SUV is certainly a niche one. Range Rover isn’t the first to try its hand at it either. In 2011, Nissan launched a convertible variant of their Murano SUV called the CrossCabriolet. Just three years later, Nissan discontinued it over poor sales. It’s hard to say whether the Evoque convertible will suffer the same fate. With a starting price of almost $66,000, it’s stylish, unorthodox and expensive. But it’s also unique. There’s nothing else currently on the market like it, and despite it all, for some buyers, that level of exclusivity is worth any cost.