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Range Rover Evoque Convertible First Drive

What is it?

Why I would buy it

Smashing road presense, high quality cabin, unparalled top-down driving experience

Why I would avoid it

Not really a practical buy, stiff low speed ride 

The Evoque Convertible is a rather special car. With its fabric roof up, it’s quiet and composed like any other luxury car but the moment you put the roof down, it turns into a classy boulevard cruiser, rolling top down through the streets and reaping attention of onlookers as you crawl through traffic. It’s basically what convertibles do. There’s something quite mystic about driving them but the truth is, they are not the most practical of cars. The Evoque Convertible, however, is different – It’s not a low-slung roadster or a mammoth luxury barge that will have its work cut-out on our roads. 

On the contrary, it stands tall, looks absolutely smashing, has beefy tyres and electronic wizardry to get you through the rough stuff. 

It’s the only convertible luxury SUV in India and the fact that it can handle our roads makes it the only convertible that isn’t ridiculous. We have earlier reviewed the standard four-door Evoque (you can read about it here) and found it to be quite impressive but somewhat compromised in terms of space and road presence. In the case of this convertible version, it’s like being in an entirely different car altogether.      

Firstly, there’s the look. Although the front-end remains the same as the standard Evoque, the convertible gets a deeper, more sculpted bumper with bigger air intakes. That said, the bodywork behind the front door has been redesigned to accommodate the stowed roof mechanism. Naturally, you get frameless doors (to maintain that clean profile), restyled rear fenders and an entirely new tailgate. Coming back to the main highlight, the fabric roof (made by Webasto) looks neat when it’s up and somewhat retains the proportions of the standard Evoque. Meanwhile, the Z-fold mechanism allows it to fold flush into the deck lid in around 18 seconds. Like most modern convertibles, the 251-litre boot capacity is thankfully retained whether the roof is up or down. All in all, the Evoque Convertible looks smashing despite the unusually high deck (for a convertible), and is easily the most distinctive SUV on the road today. 

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How is it on the inside?

The cabin may appear a bit dull but there is no denying that it’s beautifully made and put together to a standard you would expect from a high-end Range Rover. Design wise, there aren’t any major updates over the standard Evoque – much of the horizontally layered dashboard comes from other Land Rover models, especially the large centre console (housing the climate control and multimedia controls) and the steering wheel. The uprated 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system that comes standard in this version looks great but its functionality is nowhere as slick as its German rivals. In fact, the system hung up on us a few times wherein it would fail to engage the surround cameras or show full menu.    

The front seats are large and accommodating, with more than enough thigh support thanks to the large base. However, what’s surprising is the amount of comfort for those at the back. The rear seats are wide and supportive even for adults, offering a great deal of lateral support. What’s not so good is the knee room and because you don’t have rear doors or proper windows, it is bound to get claustrophobic with the roof up. Speaking of which, rear visibility with the roof up is downright poor because of the large headrests and the tiny rear window. 

The Evoque Convertible only comes in HSE Dynamic trim which means its fully specced from the factory. You get adaptive LED headlights, tyre pressure monitoring system, cooled front seats, surround camera system, front and rear parking assist, a 13-speaker Meridian sound system with a touchscreen display, ambient lighting and a head-up display. What’s exclusive to this car is a glove box that locks itself automatically with the central locking system in case the car is parked with the roof down. 

How does it drive?

Under the stubby hood, you will find Land Rover’s 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol motor which makes 240bhp and a stout 340Nm. Although these figures may not seem stratospheric considering that the Evoque Convertible weighs over 2-tonnes but the way this engine generates and delivers power is such, you wouldn’t be wanting anymore displacement. Post 2,500rpm, the pull is particularly strong as you are greeted by a wave of torque which thanks to the 9-speed gearbox is well spread out over the rev range. Going for a gap when rolling, from 40-70kmph or 80-120kmph, those are the kinds of conditions where this motor excels and delivers good power while remaining smooth. In our acceleration tests, it did the 0-100kmph run in 9.52 seconds and took 5.45 and 6.72 seconds to accelerate from 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph respectively.  

The engine’s pulling power, which is stronger than what the numbers suggest, is no doubt aided by the 9-speed gearbox that delivers creamy smooth yet quick gearshifts. It’s just that its bit of a slug when it comes to reacting to hard throttle inputs and robs the engine off some of its grunt. 

The Evoque is no sporty convertible and it shows – it’s heavy, sits high off the ground and has a steering that feels inconsistent on lock and doesn’t weigh up well as you up the pace. The biggest culprit, though, is the lack of rigidity over the standard Evoque. Sure, Range Rover has worked on chassis bracing to increase torsional rigidity but all said and done, the convertible version tends to squeak and rattle over bad roads. As we have noted in previous tests, the Evoque has a firm ride and with all the additional chassis strengthening, you can feel the sharp-edged bumps even more. That said, it feels unruffled and calm at high speeds. On the highways, in fact, the suspension does a good job of flattening out the undulations and minimizing vertical movements.

Should I buy one?

Let’s face it, the Evoque Convertible is not a practical SUV. You cannot store much in the small boot and cruising along with the roof down requires some planning, but ultimately its more of a weekend car that’s best suited for the bustling streets of South Bombay or the windy roads leading up to Lavasa in Pune. For those looking for the unmatchable thrill of driving under the sun, with infinite headroom and the ‘wind rush’, the Evoque Convertible is your best bet. More importantly, the fact that it can go off road (to a certain degree) just adds to the experience. 

Where does it fit in?

The Evoque Convertible is priced at Rs 82.20 lakhs on-road. It doesn’t have any direct rivals really although price wise there are some alternatives. For similar money, you could get a Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet or an Audi A5 Cabriolet. 

 

Pictures by Kapil Angane

Click here for our review of the Range Rover Velar

Click here for our review of the Land Rover Discovery Sport

Click here for our review of the Land Rover Discovery 

 
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