Victoria Marston soon found her confidence on a visit to Courchevel to try out the the new Range Rover Evoque Convertible
If anything can recommend a car, it’s me driving it up a mountain and living to tell the tale. Not renowned as the bravest of drivers, not only did I drive the new Range Rover Evoque Convertible in the French Alps, but I enjoyed it.
The sat nav may have been set up and ready to go, but I couldn’t resist having a play with the infotainment system and all its 10.2 inches of touchscreen glory. Heated seats? On. A cheeky lower-back massage? Why not? After I’d discovered the heated steering wheel, we were off to Courchevel.
With a state-of-the-art nine-speed automatic transmission, which is so smooth you don’t notice the gear changes, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist on the Dynamic LUX model, this car practically drives itself; to be frank, I was more than content to let it. My co-pilot had a go with the paddleshift gears and I understand that they, too, are a delight.
A snazzy inbuilt weather forecaster can predict the arrival of rain and whizz the Evoque’s roof up at the touch of a button – in 21 seconds – while driving at up to 30mph, but thanks to blazing sunshine, I’m happy to report that I had no need to test this theory. After some small experimentation, I can confirm that the roof goes down in the even shorter time of 18 seconds.
On arrival in Courchevel, it was time to find out whether this behemoth could manage all the things that an off-roader should. I was told to floor the throttle on snow and ice─the Evoque gives you just enough power to keep going without losing control or getting stuck, thanks to Terrain Response. No convertible should be capable of this.
I was cajoled into opening the doors and playing with the roof as the car hung at a vertical standstill on some kind of obscene obstacle, back wheel in the air, to show what the car is really made of. Apparently, a convertible shouldn’t be able to do this either, with the roof down, without buckling, but additional chassis bracing has increased the torsional rigidity over that of the coupé. Who knew?
Finally, I tried out the All-Terrain Progress Control, which allowed me to merely point and steer as the car crept over a manmade ‘house’ at a steady 1.1mph, something I’m fairly sure I’d never need my car to do. But the point is, it can.
Land Rover’s aim with this new twist on the Evoque is to appeal to existing convertible owners, to introduce more people to the practicality of the brand and to produce a topless model that is useful year-round. I might not be a car expert, but they have me convinced. This car could go anywhere, but would also look exceedingly smart on the school run. Just saying.
The Range Rover Evoque Convertible is available from June, in HSE Dynamic and HSE Dynamic LUX models, with an Ingenium 2.0 litre diesel (180hp) or an Si4 2.0 petrol (240hp) engine. Prices start at £47,500. Visit www.landrover.co.uk