Tuesday, 22 August 2017

At last, a convertible for all seasons

At last, a convertible for all seasons

THE word “lifestyle” seems strangely dated today, as if it belongs to another age — much in the way “flower power” is indelibly linked to the hippy Sixties.

And yet before consigning “lifestyle” to the lexicon trashcan, the word might be perfect for describing the aspirational ambition of buyers of this week’s drive — the exotic Range Rover Evoque Convertible.

Whatever the interpretation of how we are supposed to live our lives by people in marketing, if you went out and bought an Evoque Convertible you would be telling the world something about yourself.

Aspirational, certainly. Successful, probably — because the Evoque Convertible I have been driving this week would set you back a cool £52,270 including fitted options.

You might consider that you were what we used to term “going places” in life and needed such a car to match your, er, lifestyle.

But then you can practically go anywhere in the Evoque Convertible.

Despite its rather esoteric appeal it is at heart a tough little cookie made in the great tradition of Land Rover 4x4s.

The car maker was so keen to emphasise this little fellow’s bravado that it released a film of the car getting down and dirty, doing wonders off-road at the Eastnor Castle estate in Herefordshire.

Mike Cross, Land Rover’s chief engineer for vehicle integrity, said: “Land Rover prides itself on being a class leader when it comes to all-terrain capability and the Evoque Convertible is no different.”

However, such is the wide marketing appeal of the Evoque Convertible that the Los Angeles Auto Show was chosen as its international launchpad.

So with this car you get the best of all worlds — it would be as at home joining the Army on manoeuvres as it would to be seen cruising up and down California’s Redondo Beach.

But the Evoque Convertible — dubbed a “car for all seasons” — also has something special for skiers. Tucked away inside the car between the rear seats is a place to stow your skis en route to Val d’Isère.

I have to say that when I first drove the Evoque Convertible at its UK launch on Britain’s Jurassic Coast it was one of the best drives I have experienced in this country.

Hood down, the car was the perfect drive on a sunny day through Bournemouth, Studland, Swanage and the environs of the New Forest. This time around I had the car to myself for an equally enjoyable period of everyday driving that included motorway trips to Henley and Reading and an A-road trip to Cheltenham.

A highlight was an off-road drive on Minchinhampton Common near where I live in the Cotswolds.

What I have found with the Evoque Convertible is that it tends to have its fans but also those who say they are “not sure” about its design.

Its high doors might not be to everyone’s taste and give the car a squat, ready-for-anything appearance.

Yet it is an acquired taste because the sum of its parts — the impressive speed with which you are able to put the hood up and down (both at low mph), the large-screen, onboard technology, the luxurious comfort for driver and passengers — make the Evoque Convertible an accomplished vehicle on both the design and engineering fronts.

Available in two luxurious specifications — SE Dynamic and HSE Dynamic — the car has an acoustically-lined fabric hood. The all-new alloy wheel designs are available for 18-, 19- and 20-inch fitments. Unique for the 20-inch alloys are four finishes: Polished, Satin Black, Technical Grey, and Technical Gold.

The Black Pack provides an “even more dramatic road presence” with Satin Black 20-inch alloy wheels, head-, tail- and fog-lamps featuring black non-reflective surfaces, exterior trim finished in Narvik Black and a black exhaust tailpipe finish.

The Evoque Convertible is available in 13 exterior colours, including Baltoro Ice and Waitomo Grey metallics. The Ebony Black fabric roof, the door mirrors and the upper section of the rear spoiler are finished in Narvik Black as standard. A wide range of accessories enables customers to add their own stamp of individuality, whether for design or practicality purposes.

Personalisation in the cabin includes machine-polished anodised gear shift paddles, anodised red rotary shifter and Union Jack sport mat set.

The car is capable of towing up to 1,500kg and a detachable tow bar can also be specified.

The Evoque Convertible came into the world as the carmaker’s “first luxury compact SUV convertible” and the first-ever convertible production Range Rover.

It is a world-class car that will run and run.

Range Rover Evoque Convertible 2.0 TD4 (Automatic)

Price as tested, including options: £52,270

Model: HSE Dynamic

Firenze Red Metallic

Ebony Leather interior

Optional features:

l Firenze red paint

l 20in ‘Style 508’ wheels

l Infrared reflective windscreen (£210)

Black design pack (£2,075)

Power seats 12x12 memory (£415)

Head-up display (£1,035)

Features include:

l Perforated leather steering wheel

l Illuminated aluminium front treadplates with Range Rover script

l Cabin air quality sensor

l Configurable interior mood lighting

l Bluetooth telephone connectivity

l Combined cycle mpg: 49.6

Review by Nigel Wigmore

Motoring

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