Innovation for innovation’s sake?

Range Rover Evoque Convertible, model on test £48,125

I’ll be completely honest, when I first heard that there was going to be a convertible version of the Evoque, I was dubious to say the least. Range Rover were hailing it as the world’s first convertible SUV, and I couldn’t help but think that perhaps the reason it was the first was that there wasn’t really a calling for it. In fairness though, I suspect the R&D department of Jaguar Land Rover probably knows its customers better than I do…

So, preconceptions aside, when the Evoque arrived at my office, it immediately drew mixed opinions – some loved it, some were dubious, some were just confused. And for me… I was actually impressed. I’ve always liked the Evoque (with a few minor reservations) and the design of the convertible has been given a lot of thought and it looks good with the top up or down. For a real test, we took it to the South Coast for a long weekend to celebrate my sister’s birthday.

My review model was a great looking dark grey with a matching dark hood and ebony leather seats, and had a great range of toys and gadgets that you’d expect on an SUV costing close to £50k. Full parking sensors, a great reversing camera, auto lights and wipers, heated seats (which remain untested as I reviewed this in the summer) and a much improved sat nav system all complimented a very comfortable cabin with room for a family trip away for a long weekend. Boot space was slightly restricted due to the hood, but that’s to be expected, and as we’re past the need for a buggy now, this was ample for our needs.

You don’t get five seats – there’s just two in the rear due to the intrusion of the roof mechanisms at the sides, but you can seat four in comfort – and that’s with child seats in place – so definitely a suitable family car. The three-door arrangement didn’t really affect rear access, and getting kids in and out wasn’t a problem, even when they’d fallen asleep!

Oh, and the roof mechanism is virtually silent – which considering the complex folding arrangement to fit into a small space, was impressive indeed, as was the car on the whole.

I’ve mentioned the improved sat nav – that was one of my issues when I tested the full size Evoque a few years ago – that and the gearbox. I’m pleased to say that the new TD4 engine and 9 speed automatic box are a dramatic improvement, making for a much more pleasant experience all round. The engine pulls well, the gearbox is smooth and capable, the spec is great and it turns heads.

All in all, the car really grew on me. I’ve decided that the world does need a convertible SUV and the Evoque is it.

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