Just have a think for a moment, how many convertible 4WDs have you seen? That’s right – none. Unless you’ve been into a Range Rover dealership in the last few weeks.
The Range Rover Evoque Convertible went on sale this week, and to see if it was all looks no delivery, we ventured to Queensland’s Fraser Island to give it a crack on some narrow bush tracks, soft sand and open beaches.
The Evoque look though quite old now, has passed into the genetics of the Range Rover brand – the Discovery Sport took its styling queues and the recently announced Discovery has too. So what does chopping the top off do?
Well it certainly gives it a high looking rear end, and given the stance of the 4WD on the road it’s a strange thing to see the lack of B and C pillars on a car so tall.
But I think it works. In fact, and perhaps problematically, this car looks better with the top down than up – the soft top roof when closed doesn’t give the same overall design satisfaction that comes from the standard Evoque model.
That said, it’s not for everyone anyway. There will be some celebrity drivers and some Eastern suburbs mums who will thrive on the ability to throw that top down on the weekend or a summers day to break from the daily cycle.
Sure, Dad is probably not going to be keen on this as the main family car, but as a second car it’s got the looks and the inclusions.
High quality fit and finish, the new large wide screen infotainment system which launched with the Jaguar F-Pace recently is a good addition, though I’ll continue to hammer home to every company possible that offering Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is a far better way to provide the ultimate connectivity to your audience.
So, back to Fraser Island. From our resort setting, we headed off into the centre of the Island. Destination – the Island’s East coast where the beach is long and wide for some open driving.
The tracks across the island are narrow, not that steep, but full of rutts and tree roots, no rocks in sight. Probably 50% packed wet sand and 45% soft sand tracks.
Rounding out the other 5% is super soft sand, especially heading onto the beach. While several other cars got stuck (I won’t name the brands because it’s more likely inexperience behind the wheels than the vehicles themselves), our Evoques handled it with ease.
In “sand” mode the drivetrain is tuned for the soft stuff, the gears are held for longer – in fact I found myself switching to grass/gravel mode for a more normal type drive.
Out on the open sandy beach it was like driving on a slippery highway – and fun!
On an Island full of hardened 4WD fanatics, Toyotas, Fords, and plenty of Land Rovers, the Evoque Convertible stood out like a Diamond in the rough.
Most of the onlookers could be seen thinking “You’ll never make it through in that mate!” – and then somewhat bewildered by the ease at which we progressed.
Starting at around $85,000, available in diesel and petrol variants you likely won’t get much change from $100,000 when you leave the dealer after hitting the options list.
I don’t expect the people of Fraser Island will see too many more Evoque Convertibles, you’ll probably find them at Watson’s Bay, Bondi Beach or St Kilda. But, if you ever do decide to take one onto the rough stuff – know this: the Range Rover Evoque Convertible can handle it.