When last we encountered the new Range Rover Evoque Convertible, it was in pre-production form and coloured Tango orange, and its maker had supplied a Swiss Alp on which to drive it.
Up there, above the tree line and under cornflower skies, in three fingers of snow, the contentious open-top addition to the Evoque line-up made a smidgen of show-off sense.
But that felt like cheating. Many things appear to make sense in the airbrushed, Eurotrash world of ski resorts: DayGlo suncream, adult-sized jump suits, wet-look gel, a mahogany tan, tartiflette… but just as these wouldn’t feel right in Reigate or Ruislip or Reading, so, I wagered, the Evoque wouldn’t, either.
Nearly six months on and a right-hand-drive full-production car has turned up in something called Yulong White, wearing 20in alloy wheels as part of the HSE Dynamic trim level. The fabric roof is black, and your bank balance will need to be that colour, too, because the car costs £50,355 with options. That hefty sum – which would also buy the Porsche 718 Cayman S road tested this week – gets you the latest 2.0-litre diesel Ingenium engine in its 178bhp guise. But what it really purchases is the idea: Range Rover attitude, open-top lifestyle and SUV desirability all bundled up into the same package deal – like discovering your Sunseeker yacht includes fold-out wings and a turbofan.
On paper, the formula works: X+Y+Z = 4x4 dead cert. Twenty-four hours in snow-globe Verbier, though, had that idea wobbling and now it’s only got a Tuesday in the south of England to prove appealing in the real world. Certainly, it doesn’t get any more real than 7.34am and weather that’s more Falklands than Faliraki. No convertible is particularly compelling in the rain, and for all the trends bucked by the Evoque, that isn’t one of them. Without a mountain in the background to distract me, it’s clear the fabric hood doesn’t quite replicate the chiselled roofline of the hard-top, and the cumbersomely big doors of the coupé remain – as does its emaciated rear seat accommodation, where adults are likely to shelter only under protest.