The Range Rover Evoque Convertible is the first purpose-built convertible model from Land Rover.
Described by its maker as a "convertible for all seasons" – and designed and engineered in the UK – the Evoque Convertible will be built alongside the five-door and coupé derivatives at the Halewood plant near Liverpool, and goes on sale almost four years after the original Evoque.
What is it?
The new model represents the pinnacle of the Evoque range and is based on the coupé variant. Despite appearing very similar to its sibling below the windows, the drop-top’s bodywork has been substantially re-engineered from the front doors back.
The stand-out feature is the five-layer fabric roof structure known as ‘Z-fold’ for the way it retracts. It takes 18sec to stow into a compartment behind the rear seats and 21sec to rise and is operated by a button on the centre console.
The roof can be raised or lowered at speeds of up to 30mph. When it is down, it folds flush with the rear bodywork, beneath hinged panels that conceal its mechanism.
Land Rover opted for a fabric roof because of its reduced weight, which helps to keep the car’s centre of gravity low, and its ability to be raised or lowered on the move.
The Convertible’s boot capacity remains at 251 litres regardless of whether the roof is up or down. By comparison, the Evoque Coupé has 420 litres of luggage space. A load-through hatch from the boot to the two rear seats can accommodate longer items.
As well as acoustic insulation, the roof features a glass rear window for maximum refinement when it is raised. Land Rover claims interior comfort is "on a par with the five-door Evoque".
An optional rear wind deflector can be specified and installed between the rear three-quarter trim panels to reduce buffeting when the roof is down.
The upper portions of the rear wings have been redesigned to accommodate the folding roof while the tailgate and spoiler are both specific to this car. The spoiler, which houses an LED brake light, adds aerodynamic stability at speed.
Another new touch is frameless doors, chosen because they retain a clean side profile when the roof is lowered. They were features that design director Gerry McGovern aspired to include on the original SUV and adhere to his mission to provide ‘form and function’ in all Land Rover vehicles.
As is traditional with cabriolet models, the Evoque Convertible features chassis bracing to compensate for the loss of the roof and provides the car with a great deal of its torsional rigidity.
The bracing increases the weight of the Evoque Convertible over the coupé by around 200kg, although Land Rover claims the soft-top actually has better torsional rigidity than its sibling.
The Evoque Convertible also carries over many of the cosmetic exterior design changes that were featured on this year’s facelift of the standard car. That means it has a deeper, more aggressive front bumper with enlarged air intakes and slimline LED fog lights. Body-coloured side skirts visually lower the vehicle while the dynamic rear bumper houses distinctive twin exhaust outlets.
What engines does it come with?
The Evoque Convertible is offered with Jaguar Land Rover’s latest Ingenium 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine, in 177bhp guise, as well as a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder Si4 petrol producing 237bhp.
The additional weight means that compared with the Evoque coupé with the same engine, the 2.0-litre diesel Convertible takes 1.3sec longer to sprint from 0-62mph, at 10.3sec. Fuel economy falls by 8mpg to a claimed 49.6mpg combined and CO2 emissions increase from 129g/km to 149g/km.
The petrol-powered Evoque Convertible can reach 62mph from a standstill in 8.6sec. Both engines are Euro 6-compliant.
Four-wheel drive is standard with both Evoque Convertible engines and they come equipped with a nine-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifts. The Active Driveline four-wheel-drive system is available as standard on petrol models and as an option on the diesel.
This automatically switches to two-wheel drive during steady-state driving at speeds above 22mph, but can send drive to all four wheels if it senses a loss of traction.
The suspension has also been reworked, with larger-diameter anti-roll bars compared with the coupé, but Land Rover claims the Evoque’s ride quality has not been compromised.
How much equipment does it come with?
The Evoque Convertible is available in two trim levels: HSE Dynamic and HSE Dynamic Lux, which are the two higher specifications in the standard Evoque’s range.
At the heart of the high-class cabin is an all-new, high-resolution, 10.2in touchscreen, which makes its debut in a Land Rover but has previously been seen in the latest Jaguar XF. The InControl Touch Pro system offers smartphone integration, 3G connectivity, ‘door-to-door’ navigation and the capability to work with a suite of high-tech apps.
Standard specification also includes bi-xenon headlights, electrically adjustable and heated, leather-trimmed front seats and a 380W, 10-speaker Meridian sound system.
As with the standard Evoque, Land Rover expects customers to personalise their Convertibles. Available on the options list are 13 exterior colours, eight alloy wheel designs in sizes ranging from 17in to 20in and a host of accessories such as carbonfibre side vents, personalised treadplates, anodised gearshift paddles and even a Union flag floor mat set.
A detachable tow bar can be specified, and the Evoque Convertible is capable of towing up to 1500kg. The fabric roof, however, is available only in black.
Land Rover knows that few owners will venture far off-road in their Evoque Convertibles, but the company was adamant from the outset that its newest offering must be as capable off-road as other Range Rovers.
The Evoque Convertible can also scale 45deg gradients and traverse a 35deg slope. Approach, breakover and departure angles of 19, 18.9 and 31deg respectively provide the soft-top with authentic go-anywhere credentials.
The Convertible is also fitted with Land Rover’s suite of off-road driver assistance technologies. These include Terrain Response, which offers four driver-selectable settings tailored for driving on road, grass/gravel/snow, mud and sand, and All-Terrain Progress Control, where the car maintains a pre-set speed, leaving the driver to focus on negotiating off-road obstacles.
Other driver aids include hill descent control and start assist, and gradient release control. The Evoque Convertible can also wade through water up to 500mm deep, thanks to a Wade Sensing function.
The Convertible is fitted with the latest safety technology: Torque Vectoring by Braking monitors dynamic behaviour and operates on all four wheels. Should understeer be detected, the system applies a small braking force to the outside front wheels, subtly tightening the car’s line.
The optional 360deg Park Distance Control provides the driver with virtual object tracking along the sides of the car, assisting with parking in tight spaces.
Autonomous Emergency Braking helps to avoid accidents when the vehicle is travelling at speeds below 21mph and greatly reduces the severity of any impacts between 32-50mph.
HSE Dynamic derivatives feature lane departure warning, whereas HSE Dynamic Lux models have lane keeping assist, which helps to keep the car from straying out of its lane.
Additional safety measures include a rollover protection device, with bars hidden in the rear quarter panel; the two aluminium bars are deployed in 90 milliseconds in the event of a rollover. The vehicle’s front and rear pillars have also been strengthened, and there’s a new combined thorax and head airbag for front occupants.
How much does it cost?
Prices for the Range Rover Evoque Convertible start at £47,500 for the diesel in HSE Dynamic trim and £48,200 for the similarly appointed petrol. HSE Dynamic Lux models start at £51,700 and £52,400 respectively. The order books are open now, with first deliveries in spring 2016.
Can I get a discount?
While it’s currently possible to drive down the price of a hard-topped Evoque by about £1000-1700, it might be more of challenge on the convertible in the short term because we expect demand to outstrip supply.
What are its rivals like?
The Range Rover Evoque Convertible breaks new ground because it is a style-led luxury SUV with a folding roof and has no direct rivals. The Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet trod similar ground, albeit at a lower price point, but it wasn’t sold in the UK and has now been discontinued.
Land Rover expects the convertible to appeal to both existing Evoque customers and newcomers to the brand, and to account for around 10% of annual Evoque sales when it goes on sale. It is taking aim at other premium drop-tops such as the Audi A5 Cabriolet and BMW 4 Series convertible - and you can bet that the German manufacturers will be watching the Evoque Convertible’s success with interest.