What is it?
Evidence, primarily. Evidence of Land Rover’s ascent into the self-belief stratosphere, where no idea is too far out nor any niche too small. Evidence too of its preference for blue-sky imagineering; of packaging an answer before the question even occurred to its European rivals. Evidence, certainly, of the firm’s Tata-era fearlessness.
Being undaunted by the prospect of failure seems like a fairly important commodity when you’re thinking about separating an SUV from its roof. There have always been open-top off-roaders, of course, (the first ones came equipped with machine guns and wise-cracking GIs) but the Evoque convertible is the first compact luxury model to attempt the trick.
Quirky though that might seem, the model has arguably been on the journey since its arrival. The Evoque’s claim to the more robust side of Land Rover’s image has always been fairly tenuous. Yes, there’s a proper 4x4 drivetrain underneath, but the manufacturer clearly wasn’t thinking of green-laners when it announced Victoria Beckham as a design consultant the first time around.
The same niche that might’ve found that spurious piece of information interesting at the time is transparently the one it has in the cross hairs now; and in that sense, the convertible version is merely the pretty-boy Evoque carried to its logical conclusion. An acceptable rationale though does not a great car make, otherwise the Mini Coupe, Roadster, Paceman, Countryman and Clubman would’ve been more deserving of our praise.
There are serious obstacles to overcome here: many in the engineering department, some in marketing. Sensibly, Land Rover has kept the line-up simple. The convertible will sit at the upper end of the Evoque range in HSE Dynamic and HSE Dynamic Lux trim, and be offered only with the TD4 177bhp 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel or the lesser-seen Si4 237bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine. We drove the former in its exceedingly costly £51,700 guise.