And the question was..? / #Range-Rover-Evoque
makes no sense – or so some would say. Read on and decide for yourself. Words Glen Waddington / Photography David Shepherd /
This could be my wife’s dream car. Don’t jump to the wrong conclusions. Despite Victoria Beckham’s heavy involvement in early Evoque marketing campaigns, Land Rover has never explicitly said This Is A Girls’ Car. Neither shall I. Not even of the new convertible. But in a weak moment, although she’s not really into cars, Mrs W has confessed she’d love a Range Rover and a BMW convertible. Well, this kind of does both those jobs. Doesn’t it?
Convertibles are nothing new to Land Rover. Tell me you haven’t hankered after a Series I rag-top. And what about the Freelander Softback of the late 1990s? Funny how the Evoque Convertible is getting people’s backs up. Maybe it’s the looks. Bar some fussy detailing, I quite like it; some won’t. There’s a wedginess to the waistline that’s accentuated by body-coloured lower flanks (they’re dark grey on the threedoor) and a little spoiler on the bootlid. Hoodup, there’s more of a slope to the rear window, coupé-style. From within, hood-down it does a great job of keeping you out of the breeze: ruffled but not windswept, even at motorway speeds. Hood-up, it’s pretty much as refined as the hardtop, if rather more confined width-wise in the rear seats. Quite a fun steer, too.
Maybe it’s the price: 50 grand for this 178bhp four-cylinder diesel one, though it’s well-spec’d (heated seats/wheel/front screen, big stereo, lots of leather, electric roof). You’d probably spend similar on a new soft-top 3-series or A5. Neither of which will stand out quite so much.
Maybe that’s what upsets people. Or is it the weight? This thing weighs two tonnes. Unforgivable for a smallish four-seater, and you can feel it in the way it accelerates (or, rather, doesn’t). But, then, while it rolls a bit in corners, there is never any hint of shake or rattle. The floorpan, sills and header rail are substantially braced, and it’s a compromise that Land Rover thinks reasonable, given that this car is mostly as wieldy as any other Evoque. And on any surface.
So, yes, we’re exposed to some gymkhana-style acrobatics to prove the Evoque’s rigidity and (virtually speaking) axle articulation. The route also goes up and down some extremely rough tracks, leaving the Hill Descent and All Surface Progress controls to look after things while the driver merely steers (and looks a bit gobsmacked).
Seeing as we’re in Courchevel, we get to lark about on the piste too. I’m first there, on fresh, hard-packed snow. No problem. But I hang around so that I also get to go last. Through powdery drifts and over freezing ruts you have to work a bit harder, yet there’s no stopping the Evoque – unless you want to. Clever electronics modulate and apportion torque expertly so you don’t get stuck, and it’s massively impressive. This car tries to do lots of things, and does most of them exceedingly well. If you want an ‘all-season convertible’ ( JLR’s own words) then this is it. The driver’s choice for similar money might be the Porsche Boxster, but could this really be my wife’s dream car?
Well, turns out she might also fancy a Prada handbag and a Mulholland backpack. One of each, for different jobs. Not something that does a bit of both. Oh well, each to their own.