2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

Carved out a niche market for itself

"The first convertible in the Range Rover line up and the world's only convertible SUV"

"Every bit a designer's delight, the Evoque looks great from almost any angle and was offered in 5 door and 3 door variants"

"With the roof up, the Evoque Convertible gives you a surprisingly quiet cabin akin to its fixed roof cousins"

"Yes, the Evoque has carved out a niche market for itself where it is allowed to do anything; just anything!"

From concept to reality, the Range Rover Evoque is something which has attracted everyone's attention whether a car lover or not. It showed us how a Range Rover can be made compact, stylish and cheaper to run. Every bit a designer's delight, the Evoque looks great from almost any angle and was offered in 5 door and 3 door variants. A 3 door variant for a compact SUV? Yes, the Evoque has carved out a niche market for itself where it is allowed to do anything; just anything! And that I guess has paved the way to its latest avatar; the Range Rover Evoque Convertible. The first convertible in the Range Rover line up and the world's only convertible SUV. This one is for everyone who thought that the 3 door version of the Evoque was just too bland for their tastes!

Instantly recognizable as an Evoque with its horizontally slated stylish headlamps and low roof height, the front view remains unchanged from its hard top sibling. We drove the HSE Dynamic variant which had the lovely looking black louvers in the front grille contrasting perfectly with our white test car. Viewed from the sides, the Evoque Convertible looks almost similar to the 3 door hard top except for the rear spoiler which I think lends a 3-box profile to the 2-box design concept of the Evoque, with the roof up that is. I would like to have the spoiler only when the roof is down. As in the case of any convertible, the hard part is to get the looks right with the roof up and the roof down. The Evoque Convertible nails this part and looks equally inviting in top up and top down guises, but for me topless works just fine! The Evoque Convertible features a Z-folding soft top which can fold away in 18 seconds upon the push of a button inside the cabin. Bringing it back up takes 3 seconds more. The advantage of a soft top is the lower weight and compact storability. Some dig it but some just dismiss the idea of a soft top. For me, the choice varies from car to car. With the roof down, the Evoque Convertible can attract looks like 'what on earth is this?', 'is this a factory line car or a custom?', 'I wonder how it feels in it' and 'damn! That looks sweet'.

It is of course a first time experience where you are actually sitting at level with the passers-by. It is very different to outside views from a conventional convertible car. The doors look great without the window frames and induce more of the sporty design lingo. Towards the rear, the convertible looks clean and similar to the hard top; except the fact that instead of a rear windscreen you get to see four headrests most of the time. The boot opens at a surprising angle and you may need to watch your head if you are a 6 footer. But you get an appreciable boot space for a 3 door convertible.

It is an Evoque and being a convertible does not change anything in it. The cabin is luxurious and finished in top grade gloss black and brushed aluminium veneer for that exquisite feel. Having chic interiors is even more important in a convertible as you are inviting the whole world to see it! With the Evoque Convertible, you can be proud every time you 'drop it down'. Our test car red and black leathers with red stitching and the seats felt deeper as well as offered more support than the previous Evoque we tested. The front seats are 12-way electrically adjustable with memory function and ventilation. As for any 3 door, the front seats need to be slid in and out during passenger ingress and egress. But you always have the option of lowering the windows and jumping out! Maybe we will leave that to low ride height sports cars, this is a SUV. The jump may not end well. The rear seats are fixed and suitable for two adults, but best left for teens. With the roof down, you are surrounded by the elements and the compact-ness of the compact SUV suddenly disappears. All around visibility, the air flowing around and your overall interaction with the surroundings go up suddenly. Air-cons will need to work a bit hard, but they seemed to keep up well. The 11-speaker 380 watts Meridian sound system is best enjoyed with the canopy closed, but listening to the daily news will be just fine otherwise also! With the roof up, the Evoque Convertible gives you a surprisingly quiet cabin akin to its fixed roof cousins. A new 10.2 inch touch-screen replaces the previous 8 inch unit on the Evoque. The new unit has superfast response and can also be controlled through the steering mounted buttons. The interface is easy to learn and intuitive.

The 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder unit on the Evoque model range finds its way into the convertible as well. The only downside here being that the 240hp all aluminium engine finds it hard to propel the Evoque especially from standstill or close to standstill speeds. This is mainly because of the fact that the Evoque Convertible is heavier than its cousins and tips the scales close to 2 tons. Being a convertible and an SUV, a whole lot of structural reinforcement has gone in to keep the Evoque as sturdy and rigid in all road conditions. The extra weight also showed its part during quick lane changes and heavy braking. Quick braking and direction change sequences saw a lot of nose dive on our test car. The nine-speed automatic transmission shifts through ratios smoothly, but had a sense of 'searching for the right gear' during quick stop and start conditions.  Fully independent suspension with coil sprung struts  take care of the handling part and the 20" wheels make sure that we get all the grip from the road and all the attention from the passersby. Apart from the safety features on the standard Evoque models, the convertible features a Roll-Over Protection Device which can deploy aluminium roll-over bars within 90 milliseconds in the unfortunate event of a roll over to protect the occupants.

Not many Evoque Convertibles will be used off-road during their life time and hence I doubt whether any of them will ever be used to their full potential. But if the adventurer in you says yes, feel free to take the Evoque Convertible to almost anywhere. You get all the terrain management systems from the Range Rover goodie box and you can have a taste of the wind-in-your-hair feeling at the same time. An excellent attempt from Jaguar Land Rover to wander into segments never seen before and it takes real guts to do something of this scale. The Evoque itself is a special segment and the Convertible makes it even more specialised. This is one convertible you can buy without fearing about speed humps or crazy fuel bills. My only request to the JLR boffins would be to plonk in a 300hp engine into the convertible so that you get the go to match the show.

This is one car that will make you pray for winter!

Pros: Unmatched style, decent mix of fun and practicality, off-road fun without a roof, Z-folding soft top operation was smooth and swift
Cons: Small engine, heavy, a niche segment within a niche segment, expensive
Rivals: not yet!
One word: Runway model...topless!
4 stars

2.0 liter four-cylinder turbocharged, 240 hp @ 5,800 rpm, 340 Nm @ 1,750 rpm
AWD, 9-speed auto
0-100 km/h: 8.6 sec, top speed: 210 km/h, fuel consumption: 8.6 L/100 km
Weight: 1,936 kg

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