The Range Rover Evoque is polarising. In fact when it was first revealed, there were some who did not think it will do well. The designer is said to have faced pressure from within as well. The Evoque defied the odds and did well for Jaguar Land Rover. It sells in excess of 130,000 units annually and is even credited as having saved the Jaguar Land Rover brand. So when Jaguar Land Rover announced that they would be chopping off the roof and the car would be going topless, I was apprehensive about the notion of an SUV convertible but then again I thought the Evoque had earned the privilege to go topless.
The Range Rover Evoque Convertible is a luxurious SUV convertible. The notion of a convertible SUV would have been enough but Jaguar Land Rover have taken things further and made the Evoque a capable off-roader, making it the world’s first luxury off-road convertible. The charming Evoque has a Z fabric folding roof which comes up (21 seconds) and down (18 seconds) very quickly at a push of a button, at speeds of up to 48 kph. The best part is that the roof does not impact the already tight boot space of 251 litres (which is enough to fit about two small suitcases). This is because Jaguar Land Rover has opted for a fabric roof design instead of a hardtop solution resulting in the space savings.
The Range Rover Evoque Convertible has a spacious luxurious four-seat interior. The space bias is towards the front two passengers but there is ample room for the rear passengers. In fact I travelled with two adults at the back for 400 kms without complaint. The dashboard features the typical Jaguar Land Rover minimalist architecture which gives the car an airy and spacious feel. Although packed with a lot of technology, the Evoques’ infotainment system is intuitive and simple to use.
The head turning Evoque is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 177 kW and 340 Nm. This makes the Evoque pretty quick. Coupled with the 2.0 engine is a 9 speed automatic transmission. 9 speed? Yes, you read right. The sell is that this keeps the revs down, delays the gear shift onto the next gear and makes the car more fuel efficient. That is my gripe with the Evoque. I can confirm that the 9 speed transmission does keep revs down and delays the gear shift. You find yourself driving at maximum national highway speeds at around 2000 rpms which is remarkable but the car is not fuel efficient. It is rather thirsty. I averaged around 12l/100km. I initially thought this was the average for city driving but this did not change at cruising speeds on the national highway.
The Evoque is a fairly comfortable drive but does tend to be bouncy at high speeds and in less than ideal road conditions which unfortunately comprise a bulk of our provincial roads. This lets the car down a bit. You expect a car that is billed as capable off-road to manage to execute itself very well in all sorts of road conditions.
Overall the Evoque is practical and adequate for everyday use. Although an SUV, the climb in and out of the car is effortless. So is manoeuvring the car in city traffic and parking lots as it slots in perfectly in normal parking bays. Unlike in highway speeds on bad roads, the ride quality is good in the city and at moderate speeds.
Successful companies have not stayed relevant and at the top because they have been fixated on doing the same thing over and over again. Trying out new things and pushing the envelope has been the mainstay of their success. One gets the feeling that this was thinking behind the Ranger Rover Evoque Convertible. The Ranger Rover Evoque Convertible is priced from R987,800.
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