New Range Rover Evoque Convertible vs Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet

Is Range Rover's new open-top SUV a trendsetter or a step too far. We're pitting it it against the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet to find out...

Author Avatar
What Car? team
27 October 2016

New Range Rover Evoque Convertible vs Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet

The contenders

Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet C 220 d AMG Line auto

List price £41,575

Target Price £41,066

The four-seat C-Class Cabriolet is based on the Coupé. This is the entry-level diesel version

Range Rover Evoque Convertible 2.0 TD4 180 HSE Dynamic

List price £47,500

Target Price £47,500

This soft-top SUV is unique in its class, but it'll need substance to back up those head-turning looks

We Brits love a convertible. Even though our summers are about as reliable as the average election poll, we’re Europe’s second biggest market for drop-tops, which means the two protagonists we’ve lined up here may well pique your interest.

The first is the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet – a conventional four-seater based on the elegant C-Class Coupé. We’ve chosen the entry-level diesel engine in sporty-looking AMG Line trim.

Our second contender is rather less orthodox. In fact, as a drop-top version of the fashionable Range Rover Evoque, it’s the only convertible SUV on the market. Is there a good reason for that? Or is Land Rover’s blue-sky thinking a stroke of genius?

What are they like to drive?

The Evoque might have a slightly more powerful engine, but it’s weighed down by an extra 200kg of flab. While the C-Class builds speed fairly briskly, acceleration in the Evoque is adequate at best – even if you put your foot down hard. Both engines are a bit clattery at idle and when worked hard, but the C-Class’s isolates you better from vibration.

Through the corners, the Evoque leans more and is less keen to change direction. Its steering is also unnervingly quick for a car so tall, making it feel relatively unstable. The C-Class has slower steering, so feels less hyperactive, and its steering weight builds more naturally as you turn in to corners. While outright stopping distances from 70-0mph were similar in our tests, the Evoque nosedives heavily, so it feels less stable under braking.

New Range Rover Evoque Convertible vs Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet

At cruising speeds, the Evoque rides most bumps better than the more firmly sprung C-Class. However, the Evoque’s lofty seating position amplifies the car’s body movements, so your head gets tossed from side to side along pockmarked urban streets, which is actually more annoying. In the C-Class, you can enjoy a much smoother ride if you add the Airmatic suspension for £895.

Neither car feels as stiff as the hard-top on which it’s based. The Evoque’s body shimmies a little along rough roads while the C-Class is floppier still, sending shudders through the steering column whenever you encounter a nasty pothole. The optional Airmatic suspension makes the flex in the body less apparent, though.

New Range Rover Evoque Convertible vs Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet

The Evoque comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox that is smooth and responsive on the move. However, there’s always a noticeable pause when accelerating from a standstill. This makes entering a busy roundabout more stressful than it should be.

A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on the C-Class, but our test car came with the optional nine-speed automatic most buyers opt for. Left in Normal mode, it’s just as smooth as the Evoque’s, although switch to Sport and there’s a more noticeable jolt when upshifting. The Mercedes’ extra gear means its engine spins away slower at speed, making it the quieter cruiser.

You can hold a conversation at 70mph with the roof down in both cars, although the C-Class is marginally quieter inside. It comes with an electrically operated wind deflector as standard, whereas the Evoque’s is a £260 option that needs to be manually put up and blocks off the rear seats. Both roofs can be operated at up to 30mph, but the Evoque’s is around six seconds quicker to go about its business.

Next >