When you’re given a convertible to test drive in February you’re thankful for the warmest February on the books! So it’s off to Niagara on the Lake in the 2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible and yes I went topless.
This isn’t just any convertible. Replacing the Evoque Coupe in Canada, It’s one of the more interesting platforms to get the top sawed off. An off road luxury SUV convertible sounds like fun no matter where you take it and it is. But it’s far from perfect. Let’s start with the good.
Raising the Roof
It also looks like fun. Its unique look turns a lot of heads. It’s not easy to find a convertible for all four Canadian seasons and the Evoque delivers with its Land Rover capabilities on any terrain you want to tackle. Before we get into that let’s start with the roof. Adding a convertible version to an existing vehicle usually never works out in the beauty department. Breaking the original design with a soft top almost always turns an otherwise beautiful design into something awkward and in some cases plain ugly. The soft top however works with Evoque’s sport utility look and just makes you want to jump in and go on some adventure to anywhere. This is also a convertible designed for action! The Z folding insulated roof operates at speeds of up to 48 kilometers and goes down in a surprisingly quick 11 seconds! That’s actually faster than advertised. It goes back up in just over 18 seconds.
Losing the roof always creates structural issues for any vehicle and much consideration had to go into something that is expected to climb mountains. The Evoque’s body has to remain rigid when navigating harsh terrain and since it’s designed to operate tilted as much as 35 degrees, roll over protection is critical. A lot of engineering went into fortifying it with almost 450 pounds of reinforcement to the under body and pillars. Adding to the engineering challenges is minimizing the loss of cargo space from the folding roof. The low narrow trunk of the Evoque is compromised considerably with a capacity of only 251 litres. The Evoque’s design has always limited cargo space and with the convertible you’re best to think of the trunk more of a really big glove box. It does have a pass through for skis though – yes, snow or water!
The insulated roof didn’t sound or feel drafty. Even with the incredibly warm February temps we had there were a few days and nights that heater had to be cranked with the bum warmers on full. There was no concern of heat loss and no discernible wind noise. It should be mentioned that the Evoque convertible is only available with the upgraded HSE trim package which adds 14 thousand dollars to make the Canadian base price $65,990.00. Being the niche vehicle it is it’s not going to be for mass consumption so Land Rover went with just that single mid range trim offering. Yup, a 14 thousand dollar option. But it’s a long grocery list of stuff you get. Some of the highlight are 20 inch alloy wheels, Oxford leather seating, a 380 watt, 10 speaker Meridian audio system and the larger 10.2 InControl TouchPro infotainment system. (I’ll save my rant for the latter-later.)
What’s the Buzz?
Actually what’s the hum? The Evoque Convertibles 2.0 litre turbo delivers 240 horsepower and 250 lb.-ft of torque but also delivers the same whine or hum evident in the supercharged V6 in the Jaguar F-Pac e SUV. Barely perceptible but it is there on acceleration. It’s something to listen for on your test drive and decide if it’s bothersome to you. It’s not as quick as the regular Evoque with over 600 pounds of extra curb weight because of the convertible but the four cylinders and its 9 speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters will get you from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.6 seconds. That is a second slower with a lower top speed (180) than its hardtop counterpart but who cares? You’re getting fewer km/h but more UV rays!
The extra weight also subtracts some fuel economy but it is not bad at all with a combined city/highway rating of 8.6 L/100km
Over the Hills and Far Away
This is one convertible that will take you anywhere you want to go. No, it isn’t the most capable Range Rover but it IS still a Range Rover. That includes Hill Descent Control so you can creep down otherwise dangerous slopes and the brands Terrain Response System , the patented system that optimizes performance over a variety of surfaces like mud, rocks, gravel and snow. In water the Evoque can wade 500 mm or almost 20 inches deep. Switching from four wheel drive to pavement the Evoque utilizes what’s called Active Dynamics that balances ride and control with confident cornering.
It quite possibly was isolated to my test unit but a couple of glitches cropped up that would have REALLY ticked me off if I had just given a dealer a cheque for this Evoque. It should be mentioned that there are no recalls or reported complaints on these issues and again is likely an isolated case but on day 3 the driver power seat stopped working. Dead. Nuthin. As cars are rolling computers these days I did what we all do when our desktop freezes. I rebooted. Restarting fixed it and it never happened again but it never should have in the first place. Day 5 the touch screen froze. Same fix. Oh, I mentioned the touch screen . Don’t get me started on the Infotainment system!
What I hated
Did I mention the Infotainment system? Simply put it’s the worst you will find. It’s not a touch screen. It’s a PUNCH screen. It is the most awkward in the industry. Jaguar/Land Rover has been using essentially the same system for a number of model years. They seem content with it. From Cadillac to Kia you will find intuitive interfaces that look nicer and are laid out much better. Simple functions from heated seats to radio station presets are a chore compared to other manufacturer offerings.
What I really hated
The infotainment system.
What I loved
This is the hands down winning SUV in the fun category. I LOVE convertibles and here is one that gives us a bit of all worlds. With its Range Rover appointments and beautiful Oxford leather it is a luxury SUV yet it has all the necessary Range Rover DNA to get to that fun. It’s a vehicle that’s equally at home pulling up to the red carpet or to a red sunset on a rock cut
2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible
MSRP From 65,990.00
2.0 Litre Si4 Automatic 4WD
Combined City/Highway 8.6 L/100 km.