Happenings

Luxury Convertible... SUV?

BY Philip Ng

Should you have the desire to barrel over sand dunes while looking fabulous and getting a tan, look no further - the Range Rover Evoque Convertible has you covered.

I suppose the questions on most readers’ minds are "why?” Why take a perfectly good entry level luxury SUV like the Evoque, then lop the roof off it; especially since previous SUV convertibles (*cough* Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet *cough*) have had abysmal sales? Well, the answer lies in today's ever burgeoning luxury SUV market. Think of what Mercedes did with their "4-door coupe" the CLS – namely, finding a niche in a growing market – and the Evoque Convertible begins to make sense from a sales expansion point of view.

Moreover, most Evoque buyers are new to the brand and looking for a posh status symbol. Unlike previous SUV convertibles, the Evoque Convertible does not disappoint in this regard as it looks the business with the same handsome design as before, but kerb appeal is now boosted by optional LED headlights as well as front and rear fascias that are redesigned for 2016. The folding soft-top can also be operated at speeds of up to 48 km/h for maximum visual kudos, and can fold itself in just 18 seconds.

The Evoque Convertible has its 2.0 liter turbo four cylinder and 9-speed gearbox carried over from existing models which, with 240hp, should be a sufficient to get this SUV moving briskly. However it remains to be seen if Land Rover\'s new series of \"Ingenium\" turbodiesel engines will be offered. In typical Range Rover fashion power is sent to all four wheels and controlled via their Terrain Response System, leading them to proclaim that the Evoque Convertible will retain all the off road prowess of its tin topped stablemates.

Step inside the Evoque Convertible and you\'re greeted with the same clean design and chunky controls as existing models, but materials will be improved for next year. Thankfully the oft-criticized infotainment system will also be improved, promising quicker reflexes, seamless smartphone integration and WiFi functionality through its 10.2 inch touch screen. Should you happen to be over-engrossed in the system or doze off thanks to the serenity imparted by the acoustically insulated top, low speed autonomous braking is also available.

The Evoque has been a resounding success having sold more than 400,000 units worldwide. Given this, Range Rover has high hopes for the Evoque Convertible to capitalize on this popularity as well as the growing market. With the refinements for 2016 as well as the added novelty of a folding roof, it will likely only be a matter of time before luxury buyers will be all over the Evoque Convertible.