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Andrew Chesterton road tests and reviews the new Range Rover Evoque Convertible HSE Dynamic Si4 with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
The cruel have taken to describing the Range Rover Evoque Convertible as the answer to a question that nobody asked. But that’s a little unfair. Because to us it feels more like an attempt to answer every question ever asked at exactly the same time.
How else do you explain this hugely unique proposition, and one unlike anything else currently kicking about the new car market? One that blends inner-city hip with a sprinkling of genuine off-road ability, a dash of coupe styling and a healthy dollop of convertible into one stunning package.
And it is a genuine joy to behold. In fact, if you can look at this segment-blending drop-top without breaking into an involuntary smile, then there might be something wrong with you.
But if you’re still smiling quite so widely after spending a week behind the wheel of one, then you’re doing better than us. See, while most manufacturers have invested tireless hours in making their swoopy, sexy SUVs both good looking and practical, the Range Rover Evoque Convertible tears up that play book and tosses it out its open roof. As a result, there are some obvious practicality annoyances.
There’s a responsiveness to the accelerator and a raspy note to the exhaust that makes you want to break free of the urban shackles.
But tested here in top-spec HSE Dynamic Si4 guise ($92,800), which sits above the SE Dynamic in the two-tier petrol-powered range, and alongside the two identically equipped diesel-powered offerings, the drop-top Evoque is an absolute treat to pilot though a gloriously sunny summer.
And so you can’t help but forgive it its practicality foibles. It’s just so damn likeable. But can you forgive the $10k price hike over a hardtop equivalent?
In the fashion world, all those outlandish designs that attract all the attention on the runway are toned down and down and down again before they find their way out into the general marketplace. And cars are no different, with all those hugely impractical but achingly beautiful concept vehicles that end up looking absolutely nothing like the eventual road-going version.
And that’s what makes the Evoque Convertible such a unique proposition. It’s like that filter process between concept and general release somehow broke down, and a two-door, four-seat, off-roading convertible with all the luggage space of a suburban letterbox somehow slipped through the cracks and into a Range Rover dealership near you.
Outside, its powerful front end, swept back windscreen, muscular shoulders and arch-filling 19-inch alloy wheels genuinely turn heads wherever it goes.
But it's the interior that really takes your breath away. Its seats and trims are awash with cherry red or black leather, while its thick-stitched dash houses a 10.2-inch, and beautifully recessed, multimedia touchscreen that’s running the group’s 'InControl Touch Pro' software for the first time. The system is commendably responsive, but not the most intuitive we’ve ever used.
But it’s the smaller, less obvious elements that reveal the eye for detail applied to the interior space. The rotary drive controller is lovely to touch, the matt finish air-con dials melt seamlessly into the grey dash panel, the two cupholders are based in brushed silver and the wood highlights scattered throughout all add to a sense of well-executed premium.
But there is a downside, and it’s a whopper for a car that wears such a heavy price premium. It simply doesn’t look as good as its hardtop sibling, having lost some of its menacing, crouching stance along with its roof. Drop the top and things get worse, with the Evoque Convertible offering all the bristling masculinity of the Barbie Beach Cruiser.
Nobody ever said style came cheap, and you can expect to pay handsomely for the ability to drop your roof at will. The hardtop HSE Si4 Dynamic Evoque will set you back around $80k, but springing for the convertible version adds about $10k to the price, jumping to $92,800.
That’s a lot of dough, but your Evoque Convertible does arrive with some very handy standard gear for the money. Expect 19-inch alloys, along with powered and heated door mirrors, illuminated aluminium door sills and Range Rover’s very cool approach lights (that illuminate the brand's logo on the ground beneath the driver and passenger doors) as standard kit.
Inside, your Oxford leather front seats are 12-way adjustable, while your nav-equipped 10.2-inch screen powers an awesome 10-speaker Meridian stereo. A head-up display, push-button start and Range Rover’s 'mood lighting' (with 10 interior colour schemes), also arrive as standard.
The HSE Dynamic Si4 lands with the only petrol engine currently available in the Evoque Convertible range, a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that will generate 177kW/340Nm, with that power sent to all four wheels. It’s enough to propel the Si4 from 0-100km/h in 8.6sec and on to a top speed of 209km/h.
That engine is paired with a sweet-shifting nine-speed auto transmission which helps return a claimed combined fuel figure of 8.6L/100km.
Short answer? It’s not. For a start, boot space isn’t just compromised, it’s virtually non-existent. Land Rover reworked the back three-quarter of the Evoque Convertible to make way for its folding fabric roof, and while the clever design ensures it opens in 18 seconds (and closes in 21 seconds) at speeds of up to 48km/h – regardless of what’s in the boot – it has meant that luggage space has dropped from 550 litres in the hardtop to a piddling 251 litres in the convertible.
You could explain those numbers by saying they’re above average for a convertible. But then, most convertibles aren’t two-tonne SUVs. The boot is also a less traditional opening and more a small hatch that opens to reveal a narrow and small entry point.
Then there’s the backseat itself. With no rear doors, anybody but the front seat passengers is going to be climbing awkwardly into their seat. Once there, though, it’s not uncomfortable, and there’s plenty of shoulder room, helped by the lack of a centre seat. Like the hardtop equivalent, there are still two ISOFIX attachment points, and a pull-down divider separates the rear riders. Backseaters also get their own air-con vents but no temperature control, and there’s room in the doors for bottles.
Up front, there’s an airiness to the cabin, though you do feel a slight sense of claustrophobia given the roof is so low. The vision out of the front and side windows is terrific, with the wing mirrors capturing the full lane either side of you, while looking through the front is like gazing on a landscape photograph. Vision out of the rear window is questionable, however, with naught but a tiny little square to look through, made worse by the fact the fabric roof tends to vibrate in a stiff breeze.
The Evoque Convertible will provide a 1500kg towing capacity.
It takes more than a moment to figure out exactly what the petrol-powered HSE Dynamic Si4 Evoque Convertible is attempting to be. Drive it at city speeds, and there’s a responsiveness to the accelerator and a raspy note to the exhaust that makes you want to break free of the urban shackles and head off in search of some proper driving roads.
But when you do, you’ll find the acceleration runs out of puff as it nears triple figures and the suspension is more city supple than track-spec sport - though it does hold its own commendably on the twisty stuff.
So its home is the city - where it will undoubtedly spend the vast bulk of its time – and where it offers a hefty sprinkling of excitement to put a smile on your face as you jump from red light to red light. It climbs from 0-60km/h with absolute effortless ease – simply breathing on the accelerator will see you breeze to the speed limit with no fuss at all.
The Evoque Convertible is hugely comfortable from behind the wheel, due in part to its plush and cosseting interior, and in part to its cushioning suspension that swallows the extra heft of the drop-top with ease. Road noise, at least with the roof up, is dispatched before it invades the interior, too.
A simple Sport mode (that tightens the gearbox and acceleration profiles) is joined by Range Rover’s 'Terrain Response', which allows you to flick between General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Sand modes, adjusting throttle, transmission and braking at the push of an on-dash button should you wish to take your car off road. Which you won't.
The HSE Dynamic trim level arrives with five airbags (dual front, driver knee and side airbags that include new seat-mounted head protection for backseat passengers) as standard, along with a reversing camera, rollover detection (that will see twin rollover bars deployed within 90 milliseconds in the event of a crash) and front and rear parking sensors. Lane departure warning with AEB is also standard fit, as is a hill start assist system.
The Range Rover Evoque Convertible is covered by a three-year, 100,000km warranty and will require servicing every 16,000km or 12 months. Land Rover’s capped price servicing scheme limits each service cost to $1,460.
A beauty to behold, a joy to sit in and with enough excitement sprinkled throughout to put a smile on your face from behind the wheel. Whether the practicality shortfalls and price hike turn buyers off, however, is yet to be seen.
|Sd4 (177kW) HSE||2.0L, Diesel, 9 SP AUTO||$68,200 – 78,430||2017 LAND ROVER RANGE ROVER EVOQUE 2017 Sd4 (177kW) HSE Pricing and Specs|
|Sd4 (177kW) HSE DYNAMIC||2.0L, Diesel, 9 SP AUTO||$79,990 – 109,554||2017 LAND ROVER RANGE ROVER EVOQUE 2017 Sd4 (177kW) HSE DYNAMIC Pricing and Specs|
|Sd4 (177kW) SE||2.0L, Diesel, 9 SP AUTO||$61,800 – 85,888||2017 LAND ROVER RANGE ROVER EVOQUE 2017 Sd4 (177kW) SE Pricing and Specs|
|Sd4 (177kW) SE DYNAMIC||2.0L, Diesel, 9 SP AUTO||$72,888 – 76,888||2017 LAND ROVER RANGE ROVER EVOQUE 2017 Sd4 (177kW) SE DYNAMIC Pricing and Specs|