Auto Trader verdict:
The Evoque Convertible is a bold and exciting style statement that, currently at least, sits in a league of one. Losing the fixed roof has undoubtedly compromised both the car's road manners and its packaging, but this will be of little concern for its intended, image-conscious audience. In fact, it’s likely the Evoque Convertible will be considered infinitely superior to any perceived rival, simply for its very existence.
What is it?
A Range Rover Evoque sans roof, which also makes it the company’s first ever SUV convertible. The five-layer fabric hood is quite the party piece, taking 18 seconds to drop (or 21 seconds to raise), and it sits flush with the bodywork for a clean, sharp silhouette. The tailgate has also been redesigned to accommodate the roof and deployable rollover hoops, leaving a hatch-operated boot with 251 litres of luggage space.
For all that, it’s still a functioning Evoque, complete with four seats, a 1500kg towing capacity and Terrain Response driver settings (road, grass/gravel/snow, mud and ruts) as standard; but, in keeping with the urban-centric customer base, there is a much greater focus on personalisation. Whether you’re after machine-polished, steering wheel-mounted paddles or illuminated kickplates inscribed with your partner’s initials, there is an option for you.
Two trim levels and two engines will be available from launch in June, including a 2.0-litre Si4 petrol and the more popular 2.0-litre TD4 diesel we're testing, both driven by a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Entry-level HSE Dynamic trim comes generously equipped with a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system, front fog lights, heated front screen, heated mirrors, heated seats, a reversing camera and 20-inch alloy wheels, while HSE Dynamic Lux adds keyless go, a wind deflector, traffic sign recognition, full park assist and a Meridian surround sound system.
What's it like?
Bold, brazen, unapologetic. In those cities where wealth is displayed, flaunted and even celebrated, you can already imagine the Evoque Convertible selling in big numbers. And yet, for all its new-era showbiz glitz, it remains a hugely credible and impressive off-roader.
From the short approach and departure angles and 500mm wading depth to the standard off-roading gizmos that include Hill Descent Control (HDC) and All Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) - a system that autonomously adjusts power and the distribution of drive in the toughest of conditions - this Evoque is more than worthy of the Land Rover badge.
This level of ability may be as impressive as it is overkill, but being able to drive effortlessly up a French Alp in heated, leather-seated luxury, with nothing sheltering you from 100 miles of sky is a unique experience that should be sampled.
Back on the road, there is surprisingly little body roll when cornering, cabin refinement remains very high with the roof up or down, but the ride quality does veer on the firm side.
Adding the equivalent of an entire family (250kg) in bracing to strengthen this roofless Evoque also takes its toll on the 2.0-litre diesel. Performance becomes blunted; the engine’s harshness at higher revs is exposed, brakes quickly start to feel spongy and the nine-speed automatic struggles to select the right gear smoothly. Compared to the Evoque Coupe, the Convertible is 1.3secs slower to 62mph (10.3secs) and 7mpg less efficient (49.6mpg).
There are a few attention-to-detail misses, too: the infotainment screen suffers from extreme glare in direct sunlight, the front windows don’t fall completely flush into the door frames, and the pair of hinged plastic panels which neatly cover the stowed roof are left exposed and upright when not in use. It’s likely these detail deficits will frustrate Land Rover’s designers as much as they will irk those customers used to the finer things.
Should I get one?
Style is a very personal thing, but if you enjoy attention and high fashion, and like the sound of owning the must-have automotive statement of 2016, then sign up. The Range Rover Evoque Convertible is a car that admits no near-equal. If, however, you’re not great with eye contact or are reading this with your farmyard Defender parked outside and Land Rover idealism curdling, perhaps not.
Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet
If you're looking for a stylish soft-top with room for four passengers, they don’t get much more distinctive than the well equipped E-Class Cabriolet. BMW 4 Series Convertible
This is more of a comfortable cruiser than a sporting soft-top, but it’s a cracking all-rounder nonetheless. If you’re looking for a prestige convertible, it should definitely be on your shortlist.Audi TT Roadster
It's only a two-seater, but the latest TT Roadster is every bit as convincing as the Coupe. It’s not the last word in handling, but this version is more playful and better to drive than any previous model.