A YEAR ago Land Rover launched what it called the world 's first luxury compact SUV convertible.
It was an intriguing new beast and interest was high. After the amazing success of the Range Rover Evoque, the extravagantly promoted cabriolet version should've been a runaway success.
But what did happen next? In truth, it's difficult to say.
Jaguar Land Rover says it's ‘not policy' to share variant volumes. It will, however, admit that the UK is, at 28 per cent, the biggest market for the Evoque convertible, which was where the marque's forecasts said it would be.
Next, somewhat surprisingly, is Germany (18 per cent), followed by the United States (12 per cent).
But, that doesn't shed light on whether the open top Evoque is a success or not.
In the year or so since its launch I've seen just one. And, in the time I spent driving one around the South West this summer the reaction was the same as at its launch - passengers and drivers of other cars craned their necks for a look, as did those walking by when it was parked.
With the roof down especially, it created a lot of interest.
That's not surprising. The Evoque convertible combines the bold, eye-catching design and refinement of the original multi-award-winning model with a sophisticated folding roof to create the most capable convertible in the world. And it is eye-catching.
It combines traditional Range Rover luxury with a four-seat design - tight in the rear - and versatile storage. It has also been engineered to meet Land Rover's most rigorous standards - it's no soft-roader.
Its eye-catching exterior design is made possible by the fabric roof which is shaped to create a crisply defined silhouette faithful to the original design. Its Z-fold mechanism lays flush with the rear bodywork for a sleek, uncluttered appearance when lowered.
Fully-automated, it stows in 18 seconds, and can be raised in 21 seconds, at speeds up to 30mph.
When closed, excellent insulation ensures noise levels on a par with its refined hard-top sibling. It really is remarkably quiet.
Because of the need to stow the roof, the Evoque's boot capacity shrinks from 420 litres to 251 in the soft-top but that's still generously practical for a convertible.
At the heart of the high-class cabin is a high-resolution 10.2-inch touchscreen with Jaguar Land Rover's InControl Touch Pro infotainment system, which offers seamless smartphone integration, 3G connectivity and a premium sound system.
Users can also swipe, pan, and pinch 'n' zoom controls to navigate between sub-menus, just as they would on a smartphone or tablet. However, it's slightly slanted so with the roof down and the sun out, it can be difficult to see.
Safety hasn't been overlooked with a roll-over protection device which deploys two hidden aluminium roll bars within 90 milliseconds in the unlikely event of a roll-over.
A new seat airbag system was also developed for the topless model. The front seats include a combined thorax and head airbag to offer the same level of protection as the coupÃ©'s individual thorax and head airbags.
The convertible is offered with Land Rover 's potent 240ps Si4 petrol engine while diesel power comes from the company's 2.0-litre Ingenium engine which officially returns up to 49mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 149g/km.
The turbodiesel offers 180ps of power and 430Nm of torque, which is spread across a broad powerband for a fairly instantaneous response. Bearing in mind, it's powering a soft-top, it's pretty refined too.
Both petrol and diesel engines are matched to the proven nine-speed ZF automatic gearbox though the gears can be selected manually via unnecessary steering-wheel-mounted paddleshifts.
It's all underpinned by Land Rover 's world-class all-terrain capability. It can scale extremely steep 45-degree gradients, safely tilt to 35 degrees, and wade through water up to 500mm deep.