Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: February 14, 2017
There seems to be neither rhyme nor reason with the new Range Rover Evoque Convertible. For all intents and purposes, it’s a rolling bathtub on 20-inch wheels. Kind of reminds me of the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet that went defunct as quickly as dealers wanted to get rid of it.
Alas, every cloud has a silver lining and with this topless Evoque, I think it deserves praise. You see, roof down motoring in a Land Rover isn’t really a novel idea – in fact the original Series 1 Land Rover built 69 years ago had a removable canvas roof.
But in this modern day and age where logic and reason seems to rule the marketing department, Land Rover actually had the balls to go ahead and chop off the Evoque’s poor roof, undoubtedly going against the bean counter’s wishes. It was a giant middle finger to them at the least, but marketers know that sometimes it’s not about the number of units they sell, but rather utilizing the moment as an investment to build the brand. This topless Evoque, to me at least, extends and proves their philosophy of adventuring anywhere, anytime, in any way you desire.
I think the Evoque Convertible is unusually appealing too, and a stark contrast to every other crossover on the road, though it’s a bit of a hit or miss with people. With the top down, it was a bigger eye magnet than the BMW i8 I recently drove, a car claiming to look futuristic and otherworldly. But I guess those weren’t really looks of awe, more like “what in the world is this weird man doing, driving a funky black vessel around in -10-degree weather.”
I didn’t really notice them, as I was too focused and taken aback by how stiff the chassis was. Normally when you remove a vehicle’s roof, it becomes wobbly and pliable – two things you certainly don’t want in an automobile. To combat these challenges, Land Rover added extra chassis bracings, higher strength steel in the door sills, strengthened up the A-pillars, added larger anti-roll bars, and retuned its all-independent suspension to keep the Evoque Convertible as rigid as possible. In fact, they made it even more rigid than the Coupe model.
As a result, the chassis is incredibly stiff and taut, and the only time you really notice the flex and scuttle shakes are when rolling over the deepest of potholes or speedbumps. The Convertible isn’t as top heavy as one would assume either, despite weighing nearly 300 kg more than its Coupe sibling. It feels tucked in around corners, and surprisingly agile for a car with its center of gravity so high. It performs admirably in the snow as well, with some oversteer and tail-wagging antics when you push it hard.
When it comes time to get up and go, the 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-four is more than willing. Providing 240 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque, it’s certainly up to the task of getting this 1,936 kg freight train rolling. However, 0-100 km/h comes in a bleak 8.6 seconds, a full second slower than the Coupe and 5-door variants.
Prodding the gas pedal is met with a brief pause while the turbo spools, but it gets going pretty abruptly thereafter. The Evoque is equipped with a 9-speed automatic transmission that is well programmed to shift rather than hunt, and only in the rare circumstances did I ever have to resort to utilizing the paddles. It’s not the smoothest powertrain out there but it gets the job done without hassle.
The roof is fabric and with the new frameless doors, the Evoque still manages to retain a sleek roofline with a similar greenhouse image to the Coupe. The roof lowers in 18 seconds and raises in 21 seconds, up to speeds of 48 km/h. Land Rover claims that it is acoustically insulated but there is still a great deal of road noise that seeps into the cabin, creating a noisy atmosphere especially at triple digit highway speeds.
The interior is largely carried over. The cabin layout still feels plasticky and flimsy for a vehicle running north of $70k optioned out, especially when you consider that a base Range Rover Sport is in the mid-$70s. Pressing the buttons on the steering wheel and dashboard just doesn’t give that expensive feedback and bounce that you’d expect from this class. The dashboard design is neat and well thought out but I can’t help but feel that most of it was sourced from the Ford spare parts bin.
A huge improvement however, is the infotainment screen, which has now been upgraded to Land Rover’s latest 10.2-inch InControl touchscreen. It’s wide, high-def, and much more responsive than before. The shortcut hard buttons have been axed, and the quick buttons are now strung along the bottom of the screen.
You might be wondering how practical the Evoque Convertible is, and it was one of my primary concerns too. The front seats are spacious and headroom is generous regardless of the roof’s position, and the same goes for the two back seats. There’s enough room in this Evoque to comfortably seat four adults for a weekend trip.
The only caveat is that they must pack lightly – the biggest downside of the Convertible is its miniscule 251-litre trunk (roof position does not affect it). It’s boxy but quite short, meaning only two suitcases will really fit in there, plus or minus a few dufflebags. There is a ski pass-through hatch running down the center, though.
On the bright side, the trunk is bigger than what you would find in a MINI Cooper Convertible or Volkswagen Beetle Convertible, and for a two-person romantic getaway the Evoque is more than up to the task.
The Range Rover Evoque Convertible is more about making a statement than being the most qualified performance SUV on the block. And with a starting price of $65,990, it is certainly not a bargain-buster alternative to other roofless gems like the MINI Cooper or Fiat 500.
But with a reasonably capable all-wheel drive system derived from proven Land Rover DNA, a surprisingly rigid chassis, and out of this world looks, the Evoque Convertible proves itself to be a charming rig that can take you anywhere. From the beaten path to the boulevard – being topless is just the cherry on top.
型号 Model: 2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible
顏色 Paint Type: Narvik Black
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $65,990
試車售價 Price as Tested: $71,340
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,660
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,370 / 1,980 / 1,609
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,936
引擎 Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 240 hp @ 5,800 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 251 lb-ft @ 1,750 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 9-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 11.7