LA Motor Show: Lifting the lid on the topless SUV – can Land Rover make the genre work?
WHETHER you see it as a return to the original 1948 Land Rover Series fabric roof 4x4 roots, or a new-wave, hair-tousling take on the luxury SUV, the Range Rover Evoque Convertible hopes to prolong the fashionista appeal of the great British success story of the last few years.
Dubbed the most capable all-terrain convertible in the world - with words like that, Solihull is surely wrangling for a catfight with Jeep – the monocoque bodied two-door, four-seat drop-top lobs in from about August next year priced from a heady $84,835 for the SE Dynamic Td4. Most will be powered by a 2.0-litre Ingenium turbo-diesel, though Ford’s 177kW Si4 four-pot turbo petrol is also on offer for the time being.
Using a tight-fitting Z-folding roof arrangement, the electrically operated fabric turret falls in 18 seconds, takes just three seconds longer to re-erect, and can do so at up to 50km/h. Land Rover reckons a special acoustic material ensures “comfort” on par with the five-door Evoque, while the 251-litre (nearly double that of the MX-5 that’s almost a third of the price) doesn’t lose any further carrying capacity when the top is stowed.
According to the company, the Evoque Convertible meets all of Range Rover’s “rigorous standards, ensuring exceptional structural rigidity, trademark refinement, outstanding levels of safety and unrivalled breadth of capability”. Should things go topsy-turvy, twin roll-over bars behind the rear twin seats deploy inside of 90 milliseconds.
Of more interest to most potential buyers is the debut of Jaguar Land Rover’s new high-res 10.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system known as InControl, offering fast, seamless smartphone connectivity, advanced sat-nav, and high-end audio.
So why is the Evoque Convertible here? Land Rover wants to ensure it is at the pointy end of a predicted 20 percent growth in global SUV sales over the next five years. It’s pure economics, then.
Convertible rivals? We’d nominate the upcoming C-Class, BMW 4 Series, Audi A5… at least the latter offers all-wheel drive. Just like that old Defender soft roof…