2016 Range Rover Evoque ConvertibleWith the upcoming new Range Rover Evoque Convertible, Land Rover claims to have invented a new car sector – the luxury compact SUV convertible.

But why? We found out…

What is the Range Rover Evoque Convertible?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

In a nutshell, the Range Rover Evoque Convertible is a three-door Range Rover Evoque Coupe with the roof chopped off. The lines below the defining rising waistline are identical: it’s above where coupe becomes drop-top.

Why did Land Rover design a Range Rover Evoque Convertible?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

The idea for the Range Rover Evoque Convertible came from the design team, studio director David Saddington told us. “It has a floating roof,” he said. “We thought, what would it be like if we cut it off?” It’s as simple as that.

Didn’t we first see the idea a while back?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

Land Rover first showed us the Range Rover Evoque Convertible as a concept back in 2012, at the Geneva Motor Show. Land Rover said at the time it wanted to gauge public reaction to the car: clearly, the reaction has been positive.

Why has it taken so long to see the production model?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

Even though the concept Range Rover Evoque Convertible looked production-ready, Land Rover couldn’t proceed as the Evoque was selling so fast, it wasn’t able to spare the development time. It thus waited for the Evoque’s mid-cycle refresh, which happened a few months ago.

What does the production Range Rover Evoque Convertible look like?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

As with the concept, the showroom-ready Evoque Convertible is all-new above the rising waistline. “That was our ‘cut here’ line,” said Saddington. The A-pillar has been strengthened so there’s no central roll hoop: it’s a completely open convertible.

So is there any rollover protection?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

Land Rover uses a pyrotechnic rollover protection system – similar to airbag tech, hoops fire up behind the rear head restraints to protect passengers.

What about the Evoque Convertible’s roof?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

The Evoque Convertible has a soft-top roof that cleverly folds in Z-shape so it doesn’t steal too much boot space when down. It lowers in 18 seconds, at speeds of up to 30mph.

So it’s a practical convertible?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

When we say it doesn’t steal too much boot space, it’s all relative. The trunk is 251 litres, smaller than a Ford Fiesta, and the hatch is awkward – you have to crouch down to slide stuff in and out. At least there’s a through-load hatch so you can stow the skis pictured here.

Why is there a spoiler on the bootlid?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

The Range Rover Evoque has a spoiler to both cut rear-end lift and help with acoustics when the roof is down. It looks a bit ‘add on’ with the roof up but blends in better when it’s down.

What’s the Range Rover Evoque Convertible like inside?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

Cool frameless doors open up the Evoque Convertible’s cabin. It’s a four-seater, with the rear two seats set slightly inboard so people in the back get a good view forwards. It’s comfy back there: “We haven’t forgotten rear passengers,” said Saddington.

What does it feel like, sitting in an SUV convertible?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

It actually feels rather good, sitting in an Evoque Convertible with the roof down. The high waistline and high stance make it feel safe and confident, and visibility is tremendous (with the roof down, that is: it’s a bit gloomy with it up).

Can you off-road in the Range Rover Evoque Convertible?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

Land Rover insisted the drop-top Evoque be a fully capable off-roader – thus was vital to its credibility. The firm later demonstrated this to us – explaining that it’s easier said than done, given how integral the roof is to a vehicle’s structure…

How has Land Rover strengthened the open-top Evoque?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

Considerable crossbracing below the Evoque gives it the necessary structural rigidity to withstand the considerable twisting forces involved in taking open-top cars off-road. The sheer strength of the vehicle is an incredible achievement.

So Land Rover’s confident its off-road reputation remains in tact?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

This is “the most capable all-terrain convertible in the world,” says Land Rover. “It’s a vehicle for all seasons.” It’s confident.

That’s why Land Rover has created the Evoque Convertible, then?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

Land Rover design boss Gerry McGovern is clear: the Evoque Convertible is an all-year round open-top car – the convertible you can use in the winter. If you like having the roof down whatever the weather, it’s the car for you.

Does Land Rover expect the Evoque Convertible to sell well?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

The global SUV market is forecast to grow by 20 per cent over the next five years, “said McGovern, “and Evoque Convertible will play a key role in continuing Range Rover’s 45-year success story, pioneering an all-new SUV sector.” The five-door will remain the best-selling Evoque by far, but it expects the Convertible to still make a difference to the bottom line.

Does the Range Rover Evoque Convertible have any rivals?

Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet

The Evoque Convertible is without rival. Nissan used to sell a (much-derided) Murano CrossCabriolet in the U.S., but has since withdrawn it as sales never met expectations. It’s a genuine Land Rover unique model without rival.

Doesn’t the Evoque Convertible have form in Land Rover’s heritage?

1948 Land Rover

As the firm was keen to point out, the first-ever Land Rover was actually a soft-top car – the original Series 1 model of 1948 didn’t have a roof. So you could say it’s actually the most authentic modern Land Rover of all…

What’s it like, off-roading in the Evoque Convertible?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

To demonstrate what the Evoque Convertible is like off-road, Land Rover took us on a test run in the mud. The first thing that struck us was how pleasant a roof-down drive through the countryside was: panoramic visibility and a more senses-laden connection with nature saw to that.

Can it really off-road?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

The Land Rover engineer demonstrated the Evoque Convertible can still drive up, down, across and through all the double-take terrain a regular Evoque can. More importantly, it feels really solid doing so – there are no creaks, cracks or groans.

Were we convinced after our test ride?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

Driving at slow speed thorough a woodland track with the roof down was a really nice experience. If you’re off-roading, you don’t want to be isolated from the environment and the Evoque Convertible brings back that connection. But will owners ever do this?

When does the Range Rover Evoque Convertible go on sale?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

Land Rover will launch the Evoque Convertible in spring 2016 (offering it in more than 170 countries worldwide). In the UK, it will cost from £47,500 (a hefty starting price that suggests most sold will cost £50,000-plus).

What engines will the Range Rover Evoque Convertible use?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

The regular 180hp 2.0-litre TD4 Ingenium diesel and 240hp 2.0-litre Si4 turbo petrol engines will feature in the open-top Range Rover Evoque. All will be four-wheel drive: at launch, there isn’t a two-wheel drive Evoque Convertible.

So is the Range Rover Evoque Convertible a niche too far?

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

Land Rover is confident there’s a market for the drop-top Evoque. The original was a groundbreaker and it believes this is too – as the world’s first fashionable convertible you can use all year round. Us? We like the idea and thought it worked well as more experiential off-roader, while the engineering is robust too. But what will the public perception be – is it another Evoque smash hit? Over to you…