Evoque a soft-top

for all reasons

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

IT could only happen in Britain - late spring yet you're still broadsided by four seasons in one day.

Dazzling sunshine to stinging hailstones in a matter of minutes, then a light flurry of snow and clap of thunder to top it off.

Pretty much ideal conditions for driving the model Land Rover is heralding as its car for all seasons, the Range Rover Evoque Convertible.

When it hits the streets in June, this halo model for the brand's fastest selling range will have a starting tab of £47,500, so it costs a pretty penny, but even the least expensive models carry some slick kit.

As a nation that embraces the open-top experience more than any other, there's a fair choice out there if you want to feel the wind in your hair.

This latest Evoque, though, is the world's first luxury compact SUV convertible - and given its movie star looks and driving capability, it's nailed on to prove a huge hit.

Not only does the Evoque Convertible sport the longest and widest fabric roof fitted to any vehicle on sale today but its Z-fold mechanism is flush with the rear bodywork for a sleek appearance when lowered.

Up or down - and that's an operation that takes 18 seconds to stow and 21 seconds to raise at speeds up to 30mph - we're talking the cool cabrio here.

Everything about the car screams quality and class, from the supportive heated leather seats to the upmarket on-board technology and fit of the lowered roof.

In fact if I'm going pick out a few nits, the front windows don't lower flush to the frames which can be a tad irritating for the perfectionist and I'd definitely shell out the extra £200 for a rear wind deflector - though it is standard on top spec cars.

Beneath the bonnet is a choice of four-cylinder engines - the company's 180bhp 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel boasting fuel economy of up to 55mpg and CO2 emissions from 149g/km, while there's also the lively 240bhp Si4 2.0-litre petrol unit.

All-terrain capability is the same as the Evoque five-door and Coupe variants so the likes of four-wheel drive, nine-speed auto transmission, Terrain Response system and Wade Sensing are included.

The majority of Evoque drivers will never exploit this hardware to the full, but it's comforting to know it's in place when the wind whips up and the sky turns black.

Short sleeves and shades may have been in order for the early part of the press launch exercise, which took in a spectacular route through the New Forest and later along the Jurassic Coast of east Dorset, but the monsoon swiftly moved in to make every split second of the ‘roof up' operation seem like an eternity.

Common to both though was the Evoque diesel's positive road manners - a refined ride, vibration-free steering and concert hall acoustics.

The woodland and farmer's field off-road section was never going to prove much of a challenge for a car of this capability - it's just a rare treat to be able to tackle a 4x4 course in a drop-top.

Today's buyers of convertibles say they want both practicality and luxury, so it's only the higher trim grades of HSE Dymamic and HSE Dynamic Lux that are up for grabs here.

That means stuff like a high-res 10.2-inch touchscreen with Jaguar Land Rover's next-generation infotainment set-up - InControl Touch Pro - for smartphone integration, door-to-door navigation, 3G connectivity and a premium sound system.

Safety features include a roll-over protection device with deployable bars, which activate within 90 milliseconds, hidden in the rear bodywork.

The boot is adequate rather than cavernous at 251 litres and tall passengers may wish for better rear legroom, otherwise this is more than a car for all seasons, it's one for all reasons too.

Expect the 165 international awards so far scooped by the Evoque five-door and its coupe stablemate to be eclipsed - regardless of the weather.

Prices are from £47,500 for the HSE Dynamic TD4 diesel auto rising to £52,400 for the HSE Dynamic Lux Si4 petrol auto.


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