2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible Review
Isaac Bober’s 2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible Review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: Take a Range Rover Evoque and chop off its roof and replace it with a fabric one… Meet the Evoque Convertible.
2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible
Pricing From $84,440+ORC (SE Dynamic Si4) Warranty three years, 100,000km Service Intervals 16,000km or 12 months Safety Not tested Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel (as tested) Power 132kW at 4000rpm Torque 430Nm at 1750rpm Transmission nine-speed automatic Drive all-wheel drive Dimensions 4370mm (L); 1980mm (W); 1609mm (H) Angles 19-degrees (A); 18.9-degreed (D); 31-degrees (B) Ground Clearance 208mm Turning Circle 11.3 metres Boot Space 251 litres Fuel Tank 54 litres Thirst 5.7L/100km
*Note: We’ve used international images to illustrate this article.
WHEN THE EVOQUE Convertible was shown as a concept at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show jaws dropped to the floor. It signalled a clear intention by Land Rover that it wanted to reach deep into markets it had never been able to reach… it showed that the British car maker no longer wanted to be just seen as a builder of off-road machinery.
In the years between that concept and now, the Evqoue Convertible was very nearly forgotten about by the world, or so the brand traditionalists had hoped. But in the same way the Porsche Cayenne had allowed Porsche to not just stay afloat but to prosper, so too did the Evoque proper which brought a whole new type of buyer to the brand.
The clichéd question then follows, is the Evoque Convertible still a Land Rover. The answer is, of course, yes. Yes, it’s new Land Rover.
It’s very unlikely a Defender owner would look twice at the Evoque Convertible, but that’s not the aim of this vehicle; it’s to get those considering a premium, four-seat convertible to look at the Evoque Convertible.
To that end, the car you see here manages to maintain the looks and styling, more or less, of the concept from 2012. And while it’s clearly based on the hard-headed Evoque, there are plenty of bodywork tweaks rearwards of the front doors to accommodate the stowed fabric roof, and the tailgate and spoiler are clearly all-new.
While you’d be hard pressed to describe the Evoque as dull with its roof up, it looks a million times better with the roof dropped, a process that takes just 18-seconds (raising it takes 21-seconds). And you can raise or lower it at speeds of up to 48km/h.
Available in two grades (SE and HSE), the Evoque Convertible we tested was the SE Dynamic TD4 which lists from $84,835+ORC. There’s a petrol variant listing from $84,440+ORC, and then the diesel-powered HSE variant is priced at $92,410+ORC while the petrol-engined variant costs $92,015+ORC. The Evoque Convertible runs the new Jaguar Land Rover developed Ingenium four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine.
What’s it like inside?
Well, if you’re familiar with the current Range Rover Evoque then the Convertible will feel like Home. The dashboard layout is the same, although there’s now the new-generation 10.2-inch touchscreen infotainment and communications screen that Land Rover calls InControl Touch Pro.
If you’re a number cruncher, then that’s an 80% gain in screen size… and it’s about 80% better than the system in the fixed-head Evoque. There are no hard buttons (although you can operate it via steering wheel mounted controls), which is a little frustrating to a troglodyte like me, but the menu structure is all very simply laid out and the navigation system is both quick and easy to use.
Unfortunately, while the system will link with either an Apple or Android smartphone but in its own way, there’s no CarPlay or Android Auto functionality. The phone must be plugged in via USB for this to work, and the outlet is in the glovebox, but the lid is designed in such a way that you can stash your phone in one of the cup holders and the chord won’t be pinched, unlike the Renault Koleos we tested recently.
The front seats are nice and comfortable with plenty of adjustment, and the steering wheel offers reach and height adjustment. Vision right around with the roof up isn’t great, but with it stowed you get an uninterrupted view all the way around the car. There aren’t a huge amount of cubby holes and the glovebox isn’t huge, but what’s there is well designed and usable.
Over in the back is where things start to get a little tight. The seats themselves, and there’s only two as the Evoque is a four-seater, are very comfortable and shaped to resemble the front seats. But, there’s little legroom for taller passengers; I climbed in behind the driver’s seat which I’d set to suit myself and it felt very cramped. Even my eight-year old son moaned about a lack of legroom. But that’s as much to do with extra bracing required to make a car with no roof as stiff as one with one… there’s a brace running under the floor between the front and rear seats.
All complaints about legroom disappeared the moment the roof was folded back, though. Folding the roof is a simple process, you simply toggle the rocker switch on the centre console (which I grabbed once or twice mistaking it for the electric handbrake) and hold: 18-seconds for the Z-roof to fold and 21-seconds for it to raise. This is not super quick for these sorts of systems, but you can raise and lower it on the move, at up to 45km/h which is handy, and it doesn’t steal away from the boot.
Speaking of the boot, to accommodate the roof the boot space has effectively been cut in half, down to 251 litres. That said, at least stowing the roof doesn’t eat into the space, it essentially sits on top. The boot itself is shallow and deep-ish. That’s a nice way of saying it’s an awkward shape, and the boot lid which swings up is quite heavy despite the gas strut assistance.
Travelling with the roof down, at least for front seat passengers is serene – normally travelling in a convertible with the roof down feels like your hair is being ripped out in tufts. Down to the roots. My kids complained the back was a little blustery, though. But, hey, that’s a convertible for you.
Raise the roof and the serenity continues, but this time in the back too. I didn’t measure it, but with the roof in place there’d be very little between this soft-top and a hard-headed Evoque for cabin quietness.
What’s it like on the road?
For a start, the Evoque Convertible is heavier than its fixed-head sibling (a staggering 1967kg or 280kg more than a fixed-head Evoque) which is because of the extra bracing needed to keep the thing from flexing like a soggy tissue box. Indeed, even across broken surfaces, the Evoque Convertible felt taut and terrific with not a hint of scuttle shake. But, maybe new, stronger and lighter steels mean floppy convertibles are becoming a thing of the past.
So, the body feels tight. And while, as I said, it’s heavier it doesn’t feel blunted. The engine in our test car was the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel Ingenium engine (with a 14-litre AdBlue tank) that was co-developed with Jaguar and now features in a raft of Jaguar and Land Rover models, from XE to F-Pace, and Discovery Sport and Evoque. While this engine is available in two states of tune, it runs in top-output in the Evoque Convertible, and that is 132kW at 4000rpm and 430Nm of torque 1750rpm. The engine is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission and drinks down a combined 5.7L/100km.
Officially, Land Rover claims the Evoque Convertible will get to the legal limit (100km/h) in 10.3 seconds, but it feels much quicker than that from behind the wheel and the in-gear acceleration, thanks to that 430Nm of torque, is very impressive. And I don’t mean impressive for a heavy convertible SUV, either.
While most Evoque Convertibles are more likely to be seen parading up and down the high street in fashionable city suburbs, the thing impresses when it comes to flinging it along a twisting back road. Maybe it’s the extra weight, or the fact it sits ever so slightly lower than a standard Evoque, but the Convertible feels planted and is happy to change direction quickly without rolling. In fact, there’s very minimal body roll in corners and with strong punch and a clever gearing, the Evoque Convertible is a very impressive little handler.
The steering is well weighted and direct in its action with good straight-ahead stability. The brakes are a little wooden in the first part of take-up but offer reasonable progression thereafter.
The nine-speed automatic transmission, which is an Achilles Heel in other vehicles I’ve sampled (Jeep Cherokee, I’m thinking of you), is well suited to the engine and overall package. That said, it can be a little clumsy in some situations if it’s confused as to whether it can stay in its default second gear for take-off or whether it needs first-gear. This was only noticeable when starting off on steep inclines with a decent amount of right foot…
But away from those situations it’s as smooth as you could hope for with a steady pouring on of power… if you keep your foot buried. The transmission’s default is to run to as high as possible gear without labouring the engine, but it’s clever enough to skip gears on the way down if needed.
Few car makers can craft suspension as capable of handling weight, bump suppression and agility like Land Rover. The Evoque Convertible has well damped bump suppression and despite offering a firm ride is still capable of smothering those all-of-a-sudden mid-corner bumps. In all, it’s a very comfortable and enjoyable car to drive.
What about off-road? Well, despite a slightly reduced ride height of 208mm (down from 210mm) which is because of the underbody bracing, the Evoque Convertible gets a reduced version of Land Rover’s Terrain Response system (General; Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Ruts; and Sand) as well as the All-Terrain Progress Control which is basically a low-speed cruise control for driving off road.
The approach, departure and breakover angles are: 19, 18.9 and 31.0 degrees, respectively and the Evoque Convertible is rated to wade through water up to 500mm deep. The Evoque Convertible also features Wade Sensing which, using door mirror mounted sensor can determine the current depth of the water being waded through and how much deeper the car can safely wade.
Our time with the Evqoue Convertible was cut short and so we didn’t get a chance to either test out the Wade Sensing or its ability off-road. But, given we’ve spent plenty of time in Evqoues off-roading, then it’s fair to say that this variant would be on-par with the others. And easily the most capable of the compact premium SUVs except for its hard-headed sibling.
What about the safety features?
The Evoque Convertible hasn’t been assessed by either ANCAP or EuroNCAP. There are clever roll-over bars integrated into the rear bodywork and these can deploy in an impressive 90 milliseconds, which is faster than the blink of an eye. The Evoque Convertible offers autonomous emergency braking which works at speeds below 35km/h and will attempt to reduce the impact between 50-80km/h. The lane keeping assist is an active system, meaning it can steer the car gently back into the lane (but that doesn’t mean it’s autonomous), although lane departure warning is a separate system and just warns you when you’ve wandered out of your lane. There’s also driver fatigue monitoring and head-up display, which our test car had, and I love.
Beyond this the Evqoue Convertible gets keyless entry and push button start, an alarm, ISOFIX mounts and top tether anchors, all-wheel drive, Terrain Response, and All-Terrain Progress Control, as well as traction and stability controls and airbags.
Why would you buy one?
Because a fixed-head Evoque isn’t noticeable enough for you. There’s more to it than that, though. For those after four seats and open top motoring the Evoque Convertible, the only premium convertible SUV on-sale right now, gives you that SUV height so many people seem to crave while, when you’re behind the wheel, you, at the same time, feel like you’re in something sporty. That it can drive off-road if necessary is icing on the cake, and that you probably won’t see many of them on the road making it an exclusive purchase is the cherry on top.