While I don’t dismiss the effort involved in getting it into production, from a sales and marketing point of view the Evoque Convertible must be the motor industry equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. People love SUVs, to the extent that manufacturers from Dacia to Bentley feel they can’t do without one in their respective line-ups. People also love Range Rover because it started as an iconic brand and has not dropped from that position in the 46 years since.
The Evoque is hugely popular, partly because it has made Range Rover more accessible and partly because even before it went on sale it was closely associated with Victoria Beckham – perhaps the best marketing idea any car company has had in the last decade. And, although I come down with a case of the bah humbugs every time I encounter a convertible that started out as a non-convertible, even I have to acknowledge that for many folk they are too desirable for words.
Criticism of the Evoque Convertible is therefore almost futile. No matter what I or anyone else may say, customers will inevitably be drawn to it like leopards to a herd of wildebeest.
Still, now the subject has come up, I have to admit that I’ve never been a great fan of the Evoque. I don’t think it’s particularly refined, I don’t think it’s as good to drive as it should be, it’s seriously short of space for back-seat passengers and I loathe the way its rear window design restricts visibility horribly.
By introducing the Convertible, Range Rover has at least answered, if only partially, the last criticism. With the roof up, it’s as bad as ever. With the roof down, this is one Evoque which allows you to see what’s behind you without relying on parking sensors or a reversing camera.
The downside that the refinement is even worse than in the other versions. Range Rover says it has worked hard to make the Evoque structurally sound, and I don’t doubt that it has, but there is quite a lot of scuttle shake by modern standards. Of more concern is that fact that if you sharply close the lid of the storage box on the centre console the sound rings through the body. This is not confidence-inspiring.
The lumpy ride and the noise from the two-litre diesel engine don’t give a sense of quality either. Nor does the amount of road noise, really, but in a car with a fabric roof you just have to accept that as part of the game. Likewise with practicality: while solid-roofed Evoques have 420 litres of luggage space, the Convertible has just 251, or exactly the same as a Volkswagen up!, but that’s just the way it is with cabriolets.
Of course, the interior is high-quality and the instrumentation fully up to current Jaguar Land Rover standards. In open-top form, the Evoque Convertible also looks very distinctive, and while I may not personally be enchanted by its appearance that’s no reason why other people shouldn’t be.
I do struggle with the idea of a car like this costing nearly £50,000 even before you start adding optional extras, but if you have that sort of money to spend and you’re in love with the very idea of the Evoque Convertible you’re probably not going to worry about a little thing like that.
Engine size 1999cc
Top speed 121mph
0-62mph 10.3 seconds
Fuel economy 49.6mpg combined
CO2 emissions 149g/km
Towing capacity 1500kg (braked)
Euro NCAP not tested in Convertible form
Information correct at publication date