Blue sky driving
Written by Karl Peskett
Pleasurable driving experiences aren’t limited to staying on the blacktop, as Land Rover’s latest convertible proves.
Patent number 37435 has special significance for the motor industry. If it doesn’t ring any bells, the name Benz might. That patent signified the birth of the modern motor car. Filed in 1886, the first car was registered as a motorised carriage. But like a lot of carriages, it wasn’t enclosed. Yes, the very first car was designed with open-top motoring in mind.
Fast-forward 130 years, and convertibles are still just as popular, though they’ve been thoroughly modernised. Sleeker, more efficient, and far safer, today’s convertibles are far more liveable than those of years past. One drop-top, though, is pushing the boundaries of how people think about convertibles. Forget any links to roof-down, low-slung sports cars which cruise along boulevards; this one has a Land Rover badge on it.
The British company has gone back to its roots, with an off-road machine that can stow its roof away. This time, however, it’s based on the very stylish Range Rover Evoque. The success of the Evoque has been largely due to its styling and road manners, so you’d think that taking an angle grinder to it would create a wobbly mess. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
With one of the longest and widest fabric roofs on sale, the Evoque Convertible has been braced and strengthened to ensure it still handles the bends, but when required can stow its lid in 18 seconds and at speeds of up to 50kph.
The interior is still typical Range Rover, with jewel-like dials and impressive quality. The rear seats are quite squishy, though this is not a car you buy for practicality. While the normal Evoque’s cargo room is a handy 420l, the Evoque Convertible makes do with only 251l, and the letterbox-like boot-lid isn’t entirely inviting. But convertibles have never been about loading up with cargo. They’re about the lifestyle, the wind in your hair, the sun on your skin.
The Evoque Convertible actually does one better than that. With exactly the same impressive off-road credentials as its hard-top sibling, it can get to places that normal drop-tops cannot. Suddenly an excursion into the great outdoors doesn’t have to be limited to enjoying the elements through a window frame. Away from the city lights, the luminous glitter of the night sky can be experienced by simply lying back in your seat. And the fresh, salty air of the blue ocean can be inhaled directly rather than being filtered through a ventilation system.
It’s a unique adventure machine, and one that will be in high demand. But one word of caution: make sure the roof is up when you’re heading off-road. Cleaning mud and sand out of this beautiful interior is never going to be any fun!