review: Colin Sharp | photography: Carla Nunes | location: 54 Glenhove Road, Melrose Estate | developer: Alchemy Properties | price as tested: from R1 002 400

The Evoque was launched back in 2011 and its intriguing combination of concept car looks linked to a premium presentation introduced a fresh vibe to the small SUV class. Evoque was long-awaited in SA and I relished that first drive. I was not disappointed.

New to this trendy market segment is the Evoque Convertible – the only vehicle of its kind currently on sale – designed to extend the SUV’s kudos with that ilk of thirty-somethings that the standard car targets. Integral to its appeal is a soft top that retracts in 18 seconds, at speeds of up to 48km/h.

Yet lopping off the roof comes with certain disadvantages. Practicality has taken a slight knock and performance has been blunted due to 277kg of chassis strengthening; and there is of course the increased cost over the standard model. Oh yes, panache usually comes at a price. The Evoque’s sharp handling characteristics are also slightly blunted, however all-time 4X4 guarantees that the Convertible impresses off-road.

Land Rover only offers the Evoque Convertible in high-end trims, so all models come with xenon headlights, a Meridian stereo, leather upholstery, sat-nav and 20-inch alloy wheels. All have a 9-speed automatic gearbox equipped with steering wheel paddle shifts.

At launch – in the US and UK – few imagined that the Evoque could successfully capture the premium feel of its larger (and far more expensive) sibling’s interior design-wise. But that’s exactly what it achieved and five years on it still feels slick and contemporary within due to a plethora of soft-touch plastics and expensive finely detailed metal trims. And the infotainment system in the Convertible is all-new featuring a 10.2-inch screen and slicker graphics; it’s more reactive than the old unit and easier to use.

In the rear the transformation is easier to determine due to a strengthening beam that spans the width of the chassis. Knee space is also lessened and, to make way for the roof’s folding mechanism, the Convertible does without a central seat while luggage space has been compromised to some extent. The standard car’s big rear opening is now a smaller hatch that reveals a load capacity reduced from 420 to 251 litres.

For the full article see Habitat #258 March / April 2017