2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible Quick Take
Let's just get this out of the way: the 2016 Range Rover Evoque convertible isn't exactly a rational car. And in that sense, it's just like almost every other convertible car that's ever existed. In about every other sense, the Range Rover Evoque Convertible is different from just about anything else on the road.
First off, yes, you read this correctly: This is an open-air version of the Evoque, the smallest Range Rover SUV, and now the British brand's top selling model. In addition to having a power operated fabric roof instead of a traditional one, this model differs in other ways compared to the Range Rover Evoque -- ways that admittedly make it less practical.
First off is its seat count. Where the standard Evoque -- available as a 4-door or 2-door model -- can seat five, the convertible Evoque only has room for four. Given that three is a squeeze in the hardtop and not recommended anyway, that loss isn't as pronounced as another: far less cargo room, and awkward access for what little there is.
While the standard Evoque has a rear lift gate and the ability to haul bulkier items thanks to folding rear seats that open up over 51 cubic feet of cargo room, the Evoque convertible has neither. Because of its folding top, what remains is an 8.8-cubic-foot cubby awkwardly accessed by an upward rising door (a downward-folding tailgate would be preferable since you could set items on it and slide them in and out, but again, that might have been too rational for the drop-top's devil may care attitude).
A Convertible for All Seasons
Now that we've got those realities out of the way, let's focus on the brighter aspects of this niche vehicle and for whom it makes the most sense. Or maybe a better way of putting it is "where" it makes the most sense. My epiphany came while driving this luxury convertible SUV down the California coast. In winter. After a big storm.
Convertibles by nature are meant to bring the outdoors in, and Southern California is among the nation's best places for allowing that year-round. There's something special about dropping the top in the dead of winter and taking in the sun and 70 degree temps. In ritzier environs where herds of Range Rovers roam, this convertible off-roader made an immediate connection. And unlike the last vehicle to try this combination -- Nissan's ghastly Murano CrossCabriolet -- the Evoque caught attention in a good way. Exhibit A was the guy in the Maserati who eagerly gave a thumbs-up.
But you don't need to be an Orange County socialite or celebrity to celebrate the Evoque Convertible's abilities. This is still a Range Rover, after all, and by nature has the ability to go where a traditional convertible could not. I'd go so far to say that no open-air vehicle outside of a Jeep Wrangler could take you to the places you could go in an Evoque Convertible. Still, my expectation is that, like almost every other new Range Rover, an Evoque Convertible will never see dirt.
More relevant will be this Evoque's capability on slick, snowy roads. In regions where winter is truly winter, the Evoque Convertible's usefulness increases. Just like the regular Evoque, it can be optimized for various terrain. The Evoque Convertible's standard powertrain is the same as the standard model's: a frisky 240-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder and sometimes-hesitant 9-speed transmission, with power put to the ground via an advanced all-wheel-drive system.
We can call the Range Rover Evoque Convertible plaything for all seasons. This is one ragtop that needn't spend the cold months hibernating in a garage. With its nearly $53,000 starting price and aforementioned limitations, this is certainly a niche vehicle, but one that might just have a chance with a similarly niche, badge-conscious audience seeking a convertible luxury SUV.
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