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DRIVEN: Evoque convertible likes to drop its top

2018-02-05 15:27

Charlen Ryamond

Image: Charlen Raymond

Cape Town - When the Range Rover Evoque came to our local market a few years ago, it was an immediate success amongst buyers. And it still is. The design is near timeless and the dimensions compact and, dare I say it, sexy.

So it wasn’t really a shock when the British SUV maker announced that it will put a convertible version of its Evoque into production. In fact, it made most people excited about the prospect of it happening and it sent the internet into a little frenzy every time a picture or bit of news regarding the convertible broke cover. It didn’t matter what info it was, people wanted to read about the forthcoming Evoque convertible.

And in 2016 it finally arrived in South Africa, looking every bit as enticing as the pictures suggested.

Two years on and the Evoque convertible is a common sight on our roads, but still it captures the attention; evoking onlookers to pause for a moment and savor the moment.

Three doors, five seats

The Evoque is available in either three- or five-door guise, but the convertible comes only in three-door. Fortunately, though, the two front seats are operated electronically for ease of use, but do know that a few seconds of your life will be unaccounted for as you wait for the seat to move as far forward as possible. Rear space is not too tight either, but taller passengers may suffer from pins and needles over long distances.

The reason for the limited rear space is because of the retractable cloth roof. The mechanism to open or close it sits between the boot and rear seats and needs its own bit of space for optimal functionality. Limited rear space or not, the SUV’s infotainment system is, in typical Jaguar Land Rover fashion, an easy-to-use application.

The menus on the central touchscreen are big and easy to read and toggling between the settings is both functional and practical.

But the elephant in the room, the cloth roof, is the SUV’s biggest party piece. Retracting or setting up takes under 20 seconds and the control from which one operates the roof is situated on the console between the seats. Hold the button for the duration of the process until a chime sound indicates that the process is complete. But even with the roof up the car loses none of the appeal that draws in the crowd, but of course it looks better with the top down.

There was, however, a bit of a big let-down with the build quality. The panels are well put together, the interior feels solid to the touch, and the seats offer plenty of support. But when the windows are rolled down, it shudders inside the doors when closing it - this was especially evident on the passenger side. It is both unnerving and worrying, because one really does not expect a R1-million vehicle to suffer from this.

Hop that curb

Jaguar announced some time back that they will be producing a new range of 2.0-litre engines called its Ingenium range, and because Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles are built together and share virtually every feature imaginable, it was a logic choice for the Evoque and Evoque convertible to also be driven by these engines. And the Evoque convertible only has one of these engines on offer, the 177kW/340Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre engine.

As is standard, all that power is sent to all four wheels. Land Rover claims that its Range Rover Evoque convertible will return a mere 8.0-litres/100km, but because the car is enticing to drive and has a little addictive exhaust note, it’s safe to say that it will be almost impossible to achieve that.

And this Evoque moves, too! The smooth nine-speed automatic gearbox ticks over every gear in exemplary fashion and will continue to do so onto a claimed top speed of 217km/h. But not before dispatching the 0-100km/h run in 8.1 seconds. Take note, though, that even with its Land Rover heritage the Evoque is not all that suitable to off-road excursions. Gravel roads are fine, but expecting it to do what its siblings (Discovery, Discovery Sport, Range Rover, Range Rover Sport) can do will be a bit of an ask.

It may have ground clearance in access of 200mm, but that’s more for show than anything else. It drives well, as long as you keep it on the tar and the occasional stretch of gravel - not dongas and boulders. When at the mall, feel free to rather explore its off-road capabilities by hopping over a curb and parking where mere mortals in sedans and hatchbacks can only dream of parking.

The Evoque was made for the streets of Sandton, Beach Road down in Camps Bay, Clarence Drive along Gordon’s Bay, morning traffic with the roof down sipping on your favourite brew while road users give you that occasional nod of approval.

You know that this car isn’t the sharpest pencil in the box and that for the same money you could’ve rather opted for a Jaguar F-Pace or the new Land Discovery. But you’d be hard pressed to find an SUV with the same amount of appeal and aura as the Range Rover Evoque convertible.

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