by Don Sikora II
Note: The following story was excerpted from the February 2017 issue of Collectible Automobile magazine.
At first glance, the 2017 Range Rover Evoque convertible is an unlikely new offering from the British brand best known for classy sport-utility wagons that can go darn near anywhere. I must admit my early thoughts when hearing about the soft-top Evoque included visions of the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet—which answered a question no one was asking—and a colorfully worded version of “what are they thinking?”
Ponder the Evoque convertible a bit longer, though, and you’ll remember that the original Jeeps and Land Rovers were essentially convertibles. That remains true for today’s Jeep Wrangler, so it’s not a completely unheard-of idea. Of course, those originals were workhorses, not stylish crossovers that double as lifestyle accessories.
If you think of the Evoque as more of a fashion choice, the idea of a convertible starts making more sense. What’s more stylish than a posh drop top? Following this line of thinking, the upmarket Range Rover mystique could be a strong draw, even completely ignoring the brand’s off-road reputation and forgetting any traditional notion of SUV utility.
The Evoque convertible is quite handsome, and to my eyes the vehicle’s basic wedge profile translates very well into a convertible. With the top up, in the rear three-quarter view, there are definite visual similarities with the classic first-generation Volkswagen Rabbit/Golf Cabriolet. I honestly mean that in the best possible way. It’s a classy look that avoids being too trucky or looking like a dune buggy. This stylish Brit should age much better than the overwrought Murano CrossCabriolet.
Land Rover says that the Evoque convertible’s body has been braced so it actually has more torsional rigidity than the accompanying coupe. The vehicle’s windshield frame has been strengthened; with a pair of automatically deployed roll-over posts it helps protect occupants if the vehicle ends up shiny-side down. The convertible’s insulated cloth top is power operated and can open in 18 seconds or close in 21. When down, the top folds nearly flush with the bodywork and does not require the use of a boot.
The beautifully finished leather-trimmed interior has seating for four. While closed two- and four-door Evoques are hatchbacks, the convertible has a flip-up trunklid that opens to a small 8.8-cubic-foot luggage area that surrenders no capacity when the top is down. The rear seatbacks are fixed in place, but an available pass-through for skis increases utility a bit.
Like other Evoque models, the convertible is equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that’s good for 240 hp and 250 pound-feet of torque. It mates to a nine-speed automatic transmission, and is good for a claimed 7.8-second 0-60-mph run. Four-wheel drive is standard, as are Land Rover’s Terrain Response system and Hill Descent Control. The company asserts that the convertible has the same off-road capabilities as other Evoque variants and can wade through 19.6 inches of water.
In America, the Evoque convertible is offered in two trim levels. The SE Dynamic starts at $52,000, and the HSE Dynamic prices from $57,700. For a bit of context, the Audi A5 Sport Quattro convertible starts at $48,600 and the BMW 430i xDrive soft top prices from $52,300.
- Evoque’s wedgy profile translates well to a convertible.
- For premium-brand cachet and what should be relative exclusivity, the base sticker price sounds reasonable.
- There’s nothing else like it.
- Hard to say if it will be a trendsetter or a one-off oddball.
- Curb weight exceeds 4500 pounds.
- Range Rovers don’t have a particularly good reputation for reliability.
It’s hard to know what to make of the Range Rover Evoque convertible. Classy, eye-catching style is a big draw, along with serious off-road capability—if you want to use it. We think this could prove to be a surprisingly popular fashion-forward convertible, but wonder how many owners will tackle off-road adventures more challenging than the parking ramp at Nordstrom.