2017 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Convertible
Ever since Land Rover showed the Evoque convertible concept at the 2012 Geneva auto show, it has been compared with one thing—the ill-conceived, overwrought 2011–2014 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. Given the Evoque’s high-altitude seating for four, all-wheel drive, true crossover stance, and the same questionable raison d'être (exactly what is the point of a convertible crossover?), comparisons with the Nissan droptop are understandable. But that doesn’t destine the Evoque convertible—now finally available, five full years after we first saw the concept—to the same fate. Indeed, after this test of the 2017 Evoque convertible, the convertible-crossover idea is one that we think could catch on—if only as a niche within a niche—provided it’s done right.
We picked up the Evoque convertible during the posh Monterey Car Week, where our Yulong White HSE Dynamic test car shuttled us from hotels to racetracks to grassy fairways covered in gleaming cars. This fancy cruise-in appears to be the sort of venue for which the Evoque convertible was conceived. The Monterey Peninsula’s rustic, winding two-lane roads and parade-pace speed limits allow motorists plenty of time to sightsee. With its high seating position and 360-degree sightlines, the Evoque convertible provides unparalleled views for gawking at soaring redwood trees or a convoy of Ferrari barchettas. The high perch and open top, however, also make occupants accessible to chatty passersby, who seemed to be either confused at the sight of a convertible SUV that’s not a Jeep or thrilled to see the Evoque convertible on the street. Anecdotally, most folks we spoke with were impressed with the execution even if they weren’t universally on board with the idea.
Clean, cohesive styling is arguably the Evoque convertible’s greatest strength. Top up or down, the Evoque ragtop looks as dapper as the two-door coupe variant. The raised top fabric stretches from windshield to liftgate, retaining the fixed-roof model’s two-box profile. At speeds up to 29 mph, one console-mounted button and 13 seconds (or 18 seconds if you haven’t already lowered the windows) are all it takes to banish the roof into a shallow well behind the rear seats, flush with the Evoque’s signature rising shoulder line. (Raising the roof takes two seconds longer.) Nearly all of the standard Evoque’s styling elements from the shoulder down were carried over; the list of discreet additions includes pyrotechnic roll bars behind the rear seats and windshield frame and structural stiffeners. Read more...