Range Rover Evoque

Convertible - First

Drive

Range Rover Evoque Convertible, front action
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, full front action
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, side action
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, rear action
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, side hood up
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, off road
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, hood folding
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, dash detail
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, rear seats
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, front seats
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, dashboard
Range Rover Evoque Convertible, boot

ANYONE lusting after a new Evoque Convertible - and lots do already - will dismiss what I am about to say next as laughably irrelevant, but here goes anyway.

The new car costs thousands more than its fixed roof sibling, uses more fuel, emits more pollution, is slower, heavier, less roomy for people and luggage and will cost more to insure and tax.

If your inner accountant says that's a unanimous guilty verdict against the soft top then you clearly don't inhabit the same chilled chardonnay, Jimmy Choo world of a likely Evoque Convertible owner.

The sort of person who owns (or who dreams of owning) a pad in Sandbanks, the spit of Dorset sand with the fourth dearest real estate values in the world and where Range Rover took us to try the new roofless Evoque.

Hood down on a chill spring morning, the car drew the sort of admiring glances you might expect if Princess Kate and Angelina Jolie cycled past on a tandem.

Two ladies-who-lunch stopped to peer into the car and were impressed. Asked to guess its price they confidently thought 'seventy or eighty'. That's thousands, of course, and they were thousands out - on the wrong side.

Suddenly, asking fifty grand for the car we were driving (the Convertible starts from £47,500) begins to look a bit of a bargain in a world where want wins over need every time.

If you have that sort of disposable income (and Range Rover thinks enough of us do to turn a tidy profit) then what the car says about you is almost all that matters - mere facts can join last year's platinum card statements in the shredder.

And with the sun shining, heated seats on max and the wind deflector in place, there really was nowhere nicer to spend a south coast spring morning than behind the wheel of a new Evoque Convertible.

Even a flurry of sleet (yes, were talking about a British spring day) failed to dampen proceedings, simply flying over the car as we sped to lunch in a trendy cliff top restaurant (of course).

Later, at a 70mph cruise back to our hotel, driver and passenger could talk without raising voices and enjoy the lack of breeze in the cockpit, happy in the knowledge that if the heavens opened the huge fabric roof would whirr into place in 21 seconds and at up to 30mph on the move - a bit of a showstopper, that.

It actually folds even faster (18 seconds for the factually minded) and renders the car as sung and quiet as the tin-topped version when in place.

Fitting it to an Evoque, though, has consequences. As well had adding the weight of three large men to the car because of bracing needed to compensate for cutting off the roof, it needs somewhere to live when folded.

That eats into boot space - almost halved over the fixed roof model and accessed by more of a hinged flap than proper boot lid - but rear seat legroom shrinks to growing child proportions only.

Neither demerit will matter a jot of course to a potential Evoque Convertible buyer, of course, who will argue that there's still enough space for a weekend's worth of luggage and the kids will fit nicely for the school run. Both of which are true.

They won't worry about the blunted performance or economy either, even it makes the car change down in the smooth nine-speed automatic gearbox more than you expect when asked to press on.

A little restraint showed better than 40mpg on the test run and an average of 34mpg when used with a bit of enthusiasm. So, no deal breaker.

The huge majority of UK buyers will take the 2.0 litre, 178bhp diesel fitted to the test car but there's a more powerful 237bhp 2.0 litre petrol version available too, from £48,200.

Clearly aimed at the peak of the Evoque mountain, the new Convertible comes in two trim levels - plush and even plusher. Standard kit on the HSE Dynamic includes big 20-inch alloy wheels, heated front screen, rear view camera, smart leather upholstery with electrically adjustable front seats, 10 speaker sound system and a superb touch screen with excellent sat nav and mobile phone connectivity.

Meanly, you'll need another £260 for the wind deflector. That comes as standard with the LUX trim (from £51,700) that also adds an ever better sound system, ski hatch for the rear seat, auto dipping headlamps and cameras that show you the ground all around the car.

Both versions have all-wheel drive and will easily cope with the sort of terrain no sane Evoque Convertible owner would ever subject their car too - far too likely to scratch it.

Better to use those clever cameras to ease the car into a parking space outside that trendy little boutique you've been yearning to visit.

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