When Jaguar/Land Rover call and offer you a car to review; you immediately look to clear the schedule and make room for something special. So when the offer of the Range Rover Evoque convertible HSE Si4 came up; there was a quick juggle plus a crossing of fingers that the current temperate Auckland weather would remain and maybe even perk up a bit – and joy of joys it did.
Just like Manual Gearboxes, Convertibles are a bit of rarity in the review circles nowadays so by default they gain instant appeal. They have the ability (especially on sunny days) to brighten up the mood and enrich your spirits, filling your lungs with fresh NZ air and smiles filling up your faces but getting behind the wheel of the Evoque multiplied the experience tenfold.
The Range Rover Evoque has an enviable pedigree both on and off the beaten track but it’s was the SUV’s style and prestige that I was most keen to focus on (also not having the facility to take it off into the wilderness obviously made off-road a bit of a hurdle).
My first impression was how compact it looked. It appears to ride high on its 19” Alloys but the sharp sloping ‘A’ pillar and screen and the abrupt rear end with very limited overhang gives it a real sense of stoic purpose. Dressed in Fuji white (which in the sun should have been renamed Fiji white) with contrasting black roof (which I hardly saw), Sills, Grille and front/rear Trim really enhances the image. The Xenon headlights with LED signature look a little angry and the enlarged arches and a strong shoulder line gives it a masculine almost butch like profile but on the flipside; there is plenty of ‘bling’ to soften the stance.
The interior was a sea of red (seat inserts, door cards, double stitching…) with contrasting black everywhere else. A deep leather scent surrounds the cabin and there’s technology as far as the eye can see – and more where you can’t.
The 10.2” Touch Screen is the main infotainment centre and (with InControl) provides everything from music to navigation, controls ambient lighting and it even rates your eco driving – I never achieved 100%. For quite a compact SUV it is certainly packed full of drivers aids, enough to conquer virtually all terrains. With RSC, DSC and TSA stability is a given; as are the brakes (ABS, AEB, EPB, EBD). It has Torque Vectoring, front and rear park assist, Cruise control, Hill start assist – like I said it’s fully loaded. And to top it all off, Off-road terrains can be selected at the push of a button – including SAND.
The boot is hardly excessive but let’s say adequate for general use (you may need to use the back seats too).
Under its Narvik Black bonnet louvres is a 2L 4 cylinder engine that is capable of sending (via its 9 Speed auto box) 176.5kW and 340Nm of torque at 1750rpm to its 4 wheel drive system. 0-100 happens in a reported 8.6 seconds and top speed will push the needle up to 209kph – all while delivering an 8.6l/100k combined fuel efficiency. So in short, it gets off the mark smartly, goes fast enough to blow the froth off your cappuccino, travels for ages on a tank of fuel and looks great – so what’s it like to drive?
In truth – flash and fun. As luck would have it the sun shone beautifully for the entire time I had it so the top was down at almost any/every given moment. From the commute to and from work to putting it through its paces on the town and country tarmac; I was in open air heaven. The top only takes 18 seconds to retract and can even be done on the move (up to 48kph) so why wouldn’t I! It grabs attention wherever it goes; from the motorway to the city it gets more than just cursory glances. It’s a pleasure on the open roads too, turning up the tunes as I headed off towards country folk felt just as natural. I admit I didn’t tear up the asphalt – choosing to cruise rather than sprint – but I must say that it held the corners well.
The Evoque convertible manages to straddle the urban/rural divide well. It has muscular lines with plenty of contrast brightwork – then there’s that retractable roof… Let’s just say it’s Posh with quite some added spice to it – feel free to groan now.
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