Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Convertible (16-) preview

  • Fresh appeal for popular SUV
  • Luxurious, space for four adults
  • Off-roading ability uncompromised

Four years after sales of its more conventional siblings began, the first official images have been released of the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Convertible.

This isn’t simply the existing three-door Range Rover Evoque Coupe with its roof lopped off, though. Significant re-engineering has been undertaken to ensure both the integrity of its open-top design, as well as to preserve its off-roading capabilities.

As a premium convertible SUV it has no direct rivals – yet. Land Rover expects to tempt existing Range Rover Evoque owners as well as win sales from drivers of the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class. The firm also believes owners of less orthodox alternatives, such as the Audi TT Roadster, could be persuaded.

Extensive Range Rover Evoque Convertible re-engineering

To preserve its rigidity for on- and off-road driving the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Convertible’s underpinnings have been significantly strengthened, with no apparent ill-effects evident from our passenger ride on a challenging 4x4 course.

In addition to supplementary bracing in the floor and windscreen surround, the cabriolet Evoque’s stronger doors are unique, too. Plus, there’s a Roll-Over Protection Device (RPD) which deploys two aluminium hoops behind the rear passengers’ heads within 90 milliseconds if sensors detect the Range Rover’s about to turn upside-down.

Needless to say that all adds weight and at 1,936kg the Convertible’s some 279kg heavier than the three-door Coupe.

Featuring the largest fabric roof yet produced, the Range Rover Evoque Convertible’s top can be electrically lowered in 18 seconds and raised in 21 – all at speeds of up to 30mph.

Practicality suffers with the Evoque Convertible – it’s a strict four-seater and at 251 litres the boot’s some 169 litres short of the Coupe’s. Its top-hinged bootlid makes access awkward but there is an optional ski-hatch for longer loads.

High-power petrol and diesel engines

Sitting at the top of the range, the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Convertible is only available with a restricted choice of the 2-litre 237bhp Si4 petrol engine and the 178bhp TD4 Ingenium diesel unit.

Both are paired to the familiar nine-speed automatic gearbox driving all four wheels – first impressions from the passenger seat are that off-road the Evoque Convertible is a bona fide Land Rover.

That additional weight means both performance and efficiency suffer compared with the conventionally-roofed Evoques. The TD4 takes 10.3 seconds to complete the 0-62mph sprint (1.3 seconds slower than the Coupe), while claimed averages of 49.6mpg and 149g/km of CO2 are also inferior to the hard-top’s 57.6mpg and 129g/km, respectively.

If you don’t cover the sort of annual mileage to go for the diesel, then be aware that the petrol Si4’s figures of 32.9mpg and 201g/km are also worse than the Coupe equivalent’s claims of 36.2mpg and 181g/km.

Luxuriously-appointed

In line with its position at the pinnacle of the Range Rover Evoque hierarchy, the new Convertible will only come in high-end HSE Dynamic and HSE Dynamic Lux trims.

Featuring the upgraded 2016 interior, with increased use of leather for the dashboard and door panels, the Range Rover Evoque Convertible also debuts the 10.2-inch InControl Touch Pro infotainment system in a Land Rover.

Similar to the installation we’ve already experienced in the latest Jaguar XF, the Evoque Convertible’s version also features displays for the off-roading functions, such as wading depth when traversing rivers.

When can you buy one?

Sales of the soft-top begin in spring 2016. We’ll be putting this intriguing newcomer through its paces early in the new year when we discover if the new Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Convertible can tempt buyers to try luxurious, open-top off-roading.