Why Build a Convertible SUV?

Mercedes just announced a new S63 AMG with all-wheel drive and perfume holders, but somehow, I’m a lot more interested in what the SUV market is doing. Apparently, Land Rover has given the green light for the Evoque Convertible Concept from last year’s Geneva Show to be put into production.
Jaguar Land Rover has a tradition of letting slip what it’s building in the past few years to create a sort of false hype, so there’s no reason to believe a convertible Evoque isn’t coming our way. Leaving my personal judgement aside for a moment, I’m actually surprised they haven’t done it yet.

The market is clearly hinting that it’s possible to sell such a car. SUVs now spend 90 of their time in the city, they don’t have that much ground clearance any more and have gone for ultra-luxury, with features like immaculate full leather interiors and panoramic roofs. Of course, putting a fabric roof on a practical vehicle makes it impractical, so you won’t see one at every street corner. It’s that sort of “I want it but I don’t need it… but I still want it” car.((How many people will say that and sing their name on the dotted line? Figures suggest there are millions of small SUVs and crossovers sold across the world every year and the numbers keep growing. If the During the first 24 month on sale, the normal version sold 220,000 units. Evoque drop-top can sell just a few tens of thousands a year, I think they’ll be bloody happy.

Once the car does go on sale, it’s probably going to be a black swan moment for the auto world. Before people saw the first black swans, they thought it was impossible for them to even exist. Likewise, after the convertible crossover becomes successful hairdressers everywhere will wonder how they ever lived without them.

But I simply can’t take my personal feeling out of the equation here. The idea of a convertible SUV just seems strange. In the winter, SUVs give you that superiority complex of having more comfort and safety than everybody else. But in the summer, you just feel slow, bogged down, overburdened and well… a bit stupid for not buying a lighter car. Convertibles work the other way around, good in the summer and bad in the winter. So then, the Evoque Convertible is basically the worst of both worlds. It just should’t work!

But that’s only if you take things at face value. The reason why Land Rover is going forward with this project is because as a lifestyle choice, it’s perfect. Imposing yet elegant, stylish yet able to take you places. Let me put things another way: those 5-inch smartphones don’t fit in your pocket but they are still very popular.

A number of car companies are biting their tongues and looking at Land Rover to see if this idea works. Nissan already tried and failed, but probably hasn’t given up. Looking at the Juke, which is often compared to the MINI hatch, I can tell they designed it to be chop-able. The rear is very sloped and there’s not a lot of glass to get rid of. It’s the same story with the new MINI Paceman.

And one more thing, since we’re on the subject of the MINI Paceman and the Nissan Juke. Have you guys noticed that cars are impossible to class nowadays? The Paceman is compared to the bigger and more powerful Evoque, the Juke crossover is compared to the MINI Cooper and the Audi A1 because they’re lifestyle choices not cars for the masses and so on. Is the Lexus GS a direct rival for the BMW 5 Series? Not really. Is the Mazda6 really a mid-size sedan? Nope, it’s a little bigger.

Demand for traditional coupes is dropping as more and more people buy SUVs. In return, the people who engineer the SUVs are reducing ground clearance to make them handle like the sportscars people are trading out of. The Range Rover from a decade ago had optional off-road packages, the current one has aero packages to reduce drag and look good. It’s going to be the same with the Evoque Convertible. I think it’s going to be bought by the folks who normally are selling their old BMW 3 Series Cabrios. The two are basically in the same price range and most importantly empathize with people who like Ray Bans and gold watches, drink Bacardi Breezer and like red leather interiors. You know the type!

So yeah, I know most of you have the look of this car. But just in case you don’t, please tell me if I got it right. Is it something you need in your life? Would it make you feel like a unique person? Maybe this is the next big thing or maybe it’s just a trend, but I’m definitely keeping my eye on that roof to see if it comes off.
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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