Head in the air, feet in the sand, that’s how I enjoyed the first convertible in the compact premium SUV class: Land Rover’s open happiness Evoque.
Cars that stir emotions are rarely useful. Some are actually the total opposite. But still highly desirous. Why? Because they offer lifestyle. The topless Evoque boasts heaps of it. More than ever.
A Land Rover employee once told me, that the little green badge means heritage. And off road genes. So even a Range Rover Evoque is a Land Rover at heart. One of the reasons why Guido, the action photographer, and myself are helplessly grounded in the wide whiteness of the Atlantis sand dunes at the West Coast, north of Cape Town. The other reason is the picture I had in my head. The phoenix-orange open Evoque on top of a pure white sand dune with the deep blue sky above.
I have been there before. I have also taken Range Rovers off the beaten track. And I knew it hadn’t been raining for weeks and it was late in the afternoon, both facts causing the sand to be terribly soft there. I was also acutely aware of the stunning looking, matte black 20-inch wheels, equipped with very wide rubbers. Deflate them - which is essential in sand terrain – too much and they get damaged. Imagine hiking through the desert in high heels. To top it all the open Evoque carries about 200kg more than its closed sibling and the ground clearance isn’t much to write home about. And still, I wanted the shot and we drove in.
Initially it was a lot of fun. Enough momentum and the al fresco Evoque was sand surfing like a dream. Until we stopped to look for the right spot to shoot the Landy. When we came back it had sunk into the anchorless sand, looking like a beached orange bathtub with wheels. All four of them were turning helplessly and gripless in sand mode.
After some completely useless, albeit time consuming digging efforts, I decided to call a friend. Who happens to own a Defender. What happens in Atlantis, stays in Atlantis. But to tell you as much, we made it out, four hours later and in complete darkness. So remember, if you take your Evoque into the sand, drop the photographer beforehand and don’t ever stop. And yes, ask a friend to join you in his Defender.
The urban safari through Woodstock a couple of days earlier was much less exhausting and far more rewarding. The car attracts enormous attention. With the roof closed, people can hardly see the difference to the regular Evoque. But boy oh boy, when you push the button and the five-layered fabric top opens in 18 seconds at speeds of up to 48km/h, this glaring ride is obvious.
The idea is not new, there was an exposed Defender in the past, as well as a topless Mercedes G wagon. And the Jeep Wrangler can be opened as well. But those are real, hardcore off roaders with no ride comfort whatsoever. The eye-catching Evoque convertible with its chunky visual appearance offers outstanding Range Rover ride comfort.
For a looker like this it is quite obvious, that you have to fork out a certain lifestyle premium for all the attention you’re getting. The base price for the endless sky Evoque is R1 022 400. As it definitely has to come in phoenix orange (R25 200), with a black design pack (R32 700) and with LED headlights (R26 000) the purchase price quickly shoots through the fabric roof. Anyway, the street cred you gain in return is absolutely priceless.
Ranger Rover Evoque convertible
Engine 2.0-l. 4cyl. turbo paired with 9-speed ZF auto box
Power 177kW and 340Nm
Top Speed 209 km/h
0-100km/h 8.6 seconds
Price R1 022 400 (R1 214 300 as driven by GQ)
Published in the July issue of GQ