Range Rover Evoque

goes topless

Range Rover Evoque Convertible, front, action
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, roof retraction
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, side, snow
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, rear, action
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, seats
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, side
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, display screen
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, rear
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, dashboard
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, boot
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, rear seats
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, roll over protection

THE hugely successful Range Rover Evoque was the first premium compact SUV and Land Rover are about to use it to pioneer another niche - by chopping its top off.

As a result the newcomer will go on sale this spring as the world's first luxury convertible SUV.

It will start a new lucrative market and build on the massive success of the Evoque which has helped to transform the company into a major player.

Buyers from all over the world have already placed orders without even viewing the car in the flesh and they won't be disappointed.

Admittedly they will have to accept some compromises in practicality and performance but that will not matter to anyone choosing the Evoque Convertible.

The good news is that they will not suffer any reduction in the car's capability as the engineers have made sure that the convertible is just as capable off-road as its siblings.

It has gained weight because of the necessary strengthening measures required to compensate for cutting off the roof.

Underbody bracing has been added along with tougher windscreen surrounds and this adds an extra 200kg with the car now coming in at 2.4 tonnes.

So the diesel's economy suffers slightly - dropping from 57.6mpg to 49.6mpg while emissions climb to 149g/km.

Performance is also affected with the convertible taking 10.3 seconds to reach 62mph as opposed to nine seconds.

Luggage space also takes a hit with capacity dropping to 251 litres but there are no other drawbacks.

The car looks great with its well insulated fabric roof up or down and there is hardly any extra noise when cruising on motorways.

It can be raised or lowered at speeds of up to 30mph and folds in just 18 seconds. It takes just three seconds more to close and comes complete with a heated glass rear window.

What's more it does not impact on visibility and with parking sensors and cameras aboard it is easy to squeeze into tight spaces.

Powered by JLR'S new 2.0-litre Ingenium engine coupled to a nine-speed automatic gearbox, the Convertible does not feel much different from the rest of the range although you do notice the extra weight on steep inclines and when overtaking.

It remains agile on the open road and there is bags of grip thanks to its four-wheel-drive system and clever electronics.

This car is all about image and most of its owners will never venture out of their urban environment but it is nice to know that it will do anything you would expect a Land Rover to do.

On test in the French Alps it dealt with slippery side roads and ice tracks with ease and thanks to its Terrain Response system it will go where no other convertible can and wade to a depth of 500mm and climb 45-degree slopes.

Advised by Land Rover's experts we were allowed to put the vehicle over some amazing obstacles to test its prowess and prove that it is just as tough and capable as any of its siblings.

On some of the challenges you could set the system to the speed of your choice and the car would climb or descend on ice and snow with the driver only having to steer.

The cabin - as you would expect - features all the creature comforts and the dash and controls are familiar with brushed aluminium detailing. Nice leather and soft-touch quality materials complete the picture and there is room for four adults to travel in comfort.

The convertible also features JLR's much-improved new infotainment system with a 10.2-inch colour screen. The updated system is a great improvement, with slicker graphics and it also offers 3G Wi-Fi but it is still a bit fiddly.

Prices for the Evoque Convertible start at £47,500 for the diesel models and £48,200 for the 240ps 2-0-litre petrol models.

Two trim levels are being offered and the higher spec HSE Dynamic LUX model will add £4,200 to the total and most customers will go for it as it includes a superb surround sound system as well as additional safety systems like lane departure and blind spot alerts.

The SUV class is very image-led and the Evoque Convertible is a unique product that will shoot right to the top of the must-have list when it arrives in the spring.

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