Turning heads for the right reasons
“SUV convertible” is not as stupid as it sounds. The 2017 Range Rover Evoque drop-top, which follows in the tire tracks of the discontinued Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet, is the latest in this ultra small segment. The difference is that the Evoque turns heads for the right reasons and is made by an automaker that, for years, has attempted to connect itself with fashion and high culture. This association turns the Evoque convertible from a potential embarrassment to a rolling style statement that might make passersby smile and want to take a photo. We track tested, Real MPGed, and road tripped the Evoque convertible to determine just how much of a threat the SUV convertible is to the C-Class Cabriolet, 3 Series convertible, and A5 Cabriolet.
I can tell you from personal experience that Pebble Beach’s scenic 17-Mile (27-km) Drive is slightly more rewarding from the higher seating position of an SUV and also from the roofless vantage point of a convertible.
The 2017 Evoque convertible’s soft top lowers in 18 seconds and closes back up in 21 seconds, all at speeds of up to 30 mph (48 km/h). That’s not unique to the segment, but it’s still cool for those who might not have experienced a new convertible in a while. Although other four-seat luxury convertibles offer all-wheel drive, the Evoque’s AWD system is standard. In a First Drive review, we noted that the drop-top variant is as effective—and affective—off-road as the hardtop models.
If you really wanted a trail-ready SUV convertible to scuff up, though, you’d have bought a Jeep Wrangler. Evoque convertibles will spend most of their lives on paved roads and are powered by a 240-horsepower turbo-four. The engine sounds stronger than 240 hp would suggest (though it’s slightly buzzy at around 1,100 rpm), and our 4,481-pound (2,032 kg) tester’s 0–60-mph acceleration comes in a Motor Trend–tested 7.4 seconds. That’s a respectable performance that matches the time we recorded on a 2015 Evoque four-door hard top with the same powertrain, but will be on the slower end for convertibles with starting prices in the $50,000 USD range. We’ve tested an all-wheel-drive 2017 Mercedes-Benz C300 coupe hitting 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, and BMW estimates a 430i xDrive hardtop convertible will reach 60 mph in a much quicker 6.1 seconds. In the city, the Evoque convertible’s nine-speed automatic is responsive, but it can be difficult to modulate the throttle if you only want a moderately aggressive launch.
The Evoque convertible drives well on winding roads, but it’s wider than its non-SUV competition and felt big on narrow two-lane stretches. On the highway with the top up, the cabin is quiet enough, but there’s a fair amount of road and tire noise with the optional 20-inch wheels on our tester. Despite that, on a statement car such as the Evoque drop-top I’d still go with flashy wheels to make the biggest impact. At highway speeds with the top down, my experience differed from that of our First Drive review—I found it a bit loud, even with the wind deflector in place.
It’s on the highway you can make the most of that nine-speed auto with fuel economy, which the EPA rates as 20/28 mpg (11.8/8.4 L/100km) city/highway. At Motor Trend, we also test cars’ Real MPG to provide a more real-world focused data point besides the EPA, with tests that involve a $150,000 USD gas analyzer and a set route. The Real MPG highway results showed 27.4 mpg (8.6 L/100km), or almost as good as the EPA, but the Evoque’s city results of 16.6 mpg (14.2 L/100km) are disappointing. When we tested a 2015 Evoque four-door hardtop with the same engine and transmission—but with a curb weight more than 400 pounds (181 kg) lighter—the Range Rover earned Real MPG ratings of 19.4/26.6 (12.1/8.8 L/100km).
Inside, you’ll find that visibility is actually not bad. As we mentioned in our First Drive review, without a B-pillar, the Evoque’s side visibility is good, and rear sightlines are no worse than other luxury convertibles in this class. Whether we were canyon driving in the hills of Malibu or driving slowly through the beachside city of Carmel, California, I really appreciated the Evoque’s comfortable seats. Where I’d prefer the Range Rover’s non-SUV competitors is with two key seating details. The first is that others offer a heating element in the seats themselves to keep your neck warmer. I find it encourages more top-down driving in colder weather, but some will just find the effect weird. Second, the Evoque convertible really needs a better system to facilitate reaching for the front seat belts. There’s a silver-colored clip to hold the belt on the side of the seat, but it’s not difficult to unhook the belt from the clip. You have to arch your back a tad to grab the belt from its holster. (BMW and Mercedes-Benz offer an automatic seat belt extender.) Getting in and out of the rear seats isn’t easy, but it’s not that much different from similar convertibles. The trunk will fit two carry-on-size suitcases plus a couple smaller items on the side, and it stays the same size of just under 9 cubic feet regardless of whether the top is up or down. That’s cool. But because the cargo area’s opening is vertical, you slide in your bags at the trunk’s height. Conventional trunk openings allow you to lower a bag into the trunk from an easier angle.
A couple other minor issues inside keep the Evoque convertible from being an all-around solid performer. The instrument cluster and the large screen between the gauges look dated, and the navigation system doesn’t accept voice commands, which is a feature I missed on my trip along the California coast. (Land Rover tells us this functionality is coming to future cars.) The appreciably large 10.2-inch infotainment screen looks modern but is mounted a little low on the center stack. At night, I noticed a bit of extra glare from oncoming headlights through the windshield of our HSE Dynamic tester.
All of these minor issues won’t prevent people from falling in love with the Range Rover Evoque convertible. It’s distinctive, capable, and sold by a brand many associate with luxury and style. Whether that love will last the length of a three- to five-year ownership period depends on how important other everyday factors are, including around-town fuel economy, a dated instrument cluster, no voice-command navigation, and the lack of an electronic seat belt extender. If you can handle the Evoque drop-top’s imperfections, you’ll show up in an off-road-ready conversation starter of a car that’s far more intriguing than traditionally beautiful convertibles.
|2017 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque HSE Dynamic Convertible|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$62,745|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 4-pass, 2-door convertible|
|ENGINE||2.0L/240-hp/250-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4,481 lb (57/43%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||172.0 x 78.0 x 63.3 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.4 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||15.8 sec @ 85.7 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||117 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.87 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.6 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||16.6/27.4/20.2 mpg|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||20/28/23 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||169/120 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.85 lb/mile|