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Driven: Range Rover Evoque Convertible drops

Drop-dead gorgeous: The Evoque drop-top could compete against the likes of the Audi TT, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 4 Series drop-tops.

Drop-top Range Rover Evoque replaces three-door to boost sales volumes

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Land Rover logo4 Nov 2016

By DANIEL DEGASPERI

THE Range Rover Evoque Convertible has launched in Australia with a four-tier range tipped to add 200 annual sales or 10 per cent extra volume to the premium medium SUV line-up, along with an increased female buyer profile.

Available in SE Dynamic and HSE Dynamic specification, each with a choice of 132kW/430Nm turbo-diesel or 177kW/340Nm turbo-petrol 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines, every Evoque Convertible also features a nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

The newly arrived soft-top misses the 110kW/380Nm diesel, manual transmission and front-wheel-drive options of Evoque five-door models that start from $56,050 plus on-road costs, however, with Land Rover Australia citing miniscule demand for these variants.

Instead the Evoque Convertible starts at $84,948 for the SE Dynamic petrol and $85,343 for the diesel, representing premiums of $16,160 and $17,792 over the mid-range five-door SE equivalents that lack a ‘dynamic’ badge – denoting a standard exterior styling package on the soft-tops only.

Speaking at the national media launch of the Evoque Convertible in Hervey Bay, Queensland, Land Rover Australia managing director Matthew Wiesner argued that the price hike over the hard-top was less relevant than the competitiveness of the soft-top within a broader competitor set that included passenger cars.

“Our job is to make sure that Evoque in that space is visible and are you then going to be comparing it to a hard-top … probably not if you’re looking at buying a convertible,” he said of the sizeable price difference between the body styles.

“So long as we've got the ability to reach in and around that $80-100K space for that sort of product I think it’ll do its job. We do between 2000 and 2500 sales per year of the hard-top, and a convertible adds a nice point of difference for it, it’s a nice way of adding a little bit more to it and another story to it from a design perspective.

“If we did five-to-10 per cent of Evoque (volume in convertible) it’d be a fair number, but quite frankly the way the trends are working in those spaces, it could be more.”

The SE Dynamic further adds Xenon headlights, power-fold door mirrors with puddle lights and a 10.25-inch touchscreen with 325-watt Meridian audio system as standard.

Included kit otherwise mirrors its five-door siblings, including 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, automatic headlights and wipers, leather trim with eight-way power adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control with rear air vents, front and rear parking sensors with rearview camera and keyless auto entry.

On the safety front, all Evoques come with dual front, front-side, rear-side and driver’s knee airbag protection, ABS, ESC, lane departure warning and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).

The HSE Dynamic in petrol ($93,195) and diesel ($92,800) poll increases of $10,274 and $14,314 over their identically specified five-door equivalents.

Extra features include 19-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a solar attenuating windscreen, automatic high-beam assist, Oxford premium leather trim, heated and ventilated front seats with 12-way power adjustment, a head-up display, illuminated treadplates and a 10-colour configurable ambient lighting.

There are also vast options available including a $5960 Advanced Driver Assistance Pack (with surround-view camera, automatic park assist, blind-spot monitor, lane-keep assistance and auto high-beam for SE models) and on HSE a $10,310 Luxury Package that contains the above plus a 17-speaker, 825W Meridian audio system with digital TV tuner and dual-view screen.

Land Rover has also added 280kg to the kerb weight of the Evoque Convertible due to a fabric roof that can extend and retract in 18 seconds at up to 50km/h and chassis strengthening measures described by the brand as substantial.

Boot space falls to 250 litres, down from 420L, accessed via a flip-down hutch.

The 1967kg diesel accelerates 0-100km/h in a claimed 10.3 seconds, 1.3s slower than the five-door, and its claimed combined cycle fuel consumption of 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres is 0.6L/100km less frugal.

The 1936kg petrol manages to achieve a three-digit sprint time after 8.6s, one second slower than the five-door, while equivalent consumption of 8.6L/100km is 0.8L/100km thirstier.

Mr Wiesner said he believed the petrol was the pick in a range that would target a greater number of female buyers (beyond the 50:50 gender split in the Evoque range) but not necessarily a younger audience.

“I think there would be a fair skew towards female,” he said. “(But) given this car starts at $85,000 it’d probably be somewhat older than the average Evoque owner.”

Given the rarity of soft-top SUV models in the marketplace, Mr Wiesner added that he saw the Evoque Convertible as a rival for passenger vehicles such as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet and Audi TT Roadster.

“If you look at the segment (and) where it’s really competing it (Evoque Convertible) is not really competing in an SUV context,” he said.

“It can probably move across both (SUV) as well as those who are looking at convertibles as an option. I think we draw in, quite frankly, anybody whether its passenger car, SUV whatever it might be.

“They (other brands) have all got their fair share of convertibles, Audi has some offerings, Volkswagen’s got offerings, BMW have got offerings. Benz I saw there’s a new C-Class convertible coming out as well, but they are passenger cars with a convertible proposition (and) I suppose Evoque creates a unique proposition by adding (off-road) capabilities and something the others don’t have.”

However, Mr Wiesner admitted that the Evoque’s multi-mode all-wheel drive hardware was not expected to be used frequently for urban-based buyers.

“I think it’ll be more those looking for an interesting convertible option because … is (off-roading) going to be a typical day for a convertible Evoque? Probably not, however it certainly focuses on the capability and what it can do,” he added.

“Convertible Evoque is more for an urban environment with a roof-down, enjoying a certain lifestyle and making a bit of a statement.”

Mr Wiesner said he has been happy with the Evoque’s steady sales performance since its launch in 2012 when it achieved 2496 sales. It hit 2595 in 2013 and 2584 in 2014, but fell to 2321 last year.

Although the three-door body style has been deleted from the range (see separate story) the Convertible is expected to more than double its portion of total Evoque sales.

2016 Range Rover Evoque Convertible pricing*
SE Dynamic Si4 (a)$84,948
SE Dynamic Td4 180 (a)$85,343
HSE Dynamic Si4 (a)$93,195
HSE Dynamic Td4 180 (a)$92,800
*Excludes on-road costs

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