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The Range Rover Evoque Convertible Was a Lesson in Making Drop-Top SUVs Properly
It's been said that Sir Charles Spencer King, designer of the original Range Rover, grew to categorically despise the super luxurious "bad-n-bougie" SUV  it grew to become today. That being the case, we can only assume the Range Rover Evoque Convertible makes him turn over in his grave.

The Range Rover Evoque Convertible Was a Lesson in Making Drop-Top SUVs Properly

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But in fairness, the old guard rarely understands the wants and desires of the younger generations. As far as a capable convertible drop-top off-roader, you can't get much better than what Land Rover was able to come up with between 2017 and 2018. Let's take a look at the rundown and see why the Range Rover Evoque Convertible was a delightful little footnote in SUV history.

We can only assume most of our audience is intimately familiar with the Range Rover Evoque. Especially after James May took one on an overlanding trip from Southern California to Las Vegas on Top Gear, back when the first-generation L538 model was still brand new. You know the formula, take the same capable electronic 4x4 gadgetry found in all modern Land Rovers, then add a sleek, relatively lightweight crossover-adjacent body over top of it.

Powering this globally produced luxury 4x4 was a selection of four different gas or diesel engines depending on which global factory it was built in. The three launch options included a two-liter, 240 PS (177 kW; 237 bhp) turbocharged gasoline engine for parts of Europe and North America, as well as two 2.2-liter turbodiesel motors jetting 150 PS (110 kW; 148 bhp), or 190 PS (140 kW; 187 bhp), respectively for South America, India, and China.

At least after the 20914 model year in North America, power was fed through to a nine-speed ZF-9HP automatic transmission, although the option of a six-speed Getrag M66EH50 manual gearbox was an option in some markets. The unibody construction used as the foundation for the Evoque may have risen some eyebrows with its first impression.

Still, it suited the prospects of a future convertible unit quite well. At least in standard SUV form, a 1,670 kg (3,680 lb) curb weight thanks to an aluminum hood and trunk, reducing the weight with a rag top can only be a positive. But at the end of the day, the Evoque is still a Range Rover. So to say, it's a capable off-roader first, and an awesome beach getaway vacation vehicle a distant second.

The first-gen Evoque's fully computerized four-wheel-drive system complete with a then brand new terrain-response system that used computer software to make Evoque just as capable as a proper body-on-frame SUV with live axles and locking differentials. All while sporting a fully independent multilink suspension setup at all four corners that can behave the same as your average Jaguar sedan as soon as it leaves the trails and finds smooth pavement again.

What does this mean for the Evoque convertible? Well, let's just say its foundations were a bit stronger than some of its rivals in the convertible SUV segment. Take, for instance, the Nissan Murano Cross Cabriolet. A model somewhat contemporary to the Evoque Convertible. Where the standard Evoque could monster a desert crossing from California to Nevada, the standard crossover Murano folded like a red hot chocolate bar as soon as it so much as sniffed a steep, sandy incline.

Somewhat of an issue if your target audience is coastal folks looking for a fun toy to trundle across the finest beachfront of Santa Monica, the Hamptons, or any other coastal American hamlet where drop-top SUVs live. You'll find the interior of a Range Rover Evoque drop-top to be a downside better than the Murano's as well.

With leather stitched seats of a quality far high than Nissan could ever afford without an Infiniti badge, you can tell this is still a Range Rover through and through as soon as you sit inside. Standard equipment includes push-button ignition, which still wasn't a given in all cases back in 2017. Alongside a five-inch infotainment screen that admittedly is smaller than what a Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback comes sporting standard only four years later. It's not like most people aren't just using their smartphones for their navigation anyhow.

The price of it all? Well, we found one with 64,000 miles and change with the two-liter, four-pot engine on sale in Akron, Ohio, for $48,350. If you can stomach forking out for an extended warranty, it might end up being a pretty sweet everyday beach buggy. Assuming you're lucky enough to live that kind of lifestyle.

Check back soon for more from the Open Top Month coverage here on autoevolution.

 
 
 
 
 

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