It’s been almost three years since Land Rover showed the Range Rover Evoque Convertible Concept at the 2012 Geneva Autoshow, and despite the fact that the concept looked very production-ready and roadworthy, Land Rover claimed they weren’t planning to take it into production. But rumors kept surfacing about production plans for the droptop Evoque, and earlier this week, spy shots were published of a camouflaged Evoque soft top being tested on public roads. From the pictures you can see the production version looks very similar to the concept, with the rear quarter reminding somewhat of the Audi A3 convertible, despite being higher on its wheels.
This won’t be the worlds first-ever luxury SUV-convertible crossover, as the world (or at least North America) has already seen the hugely unsuccessful Nissan Murano Crosscabriolet brought to the market, which looked even more strange than the Evoque. And there have been numerous “utility” SUV convertibles, including the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, Jeep Wrangler, Ford Bronco, several small Japanese SUVs, and of course Land Rover itself, with the soft top versions of the Series I and II. However, those SUVs were of an entirely different breed and catered to an entirely different customer than the wealthy suburbans that drive Range Rovers.
Will it be a success? Of course it will be! It has Range Rover badges, doesn’t it? And there are plenty of folks who are willing to fork out an insane amount of money for anything with the letters “Range Rover” on the front of the hood, no matter the price, no matter how much it costs and no matter how many times the air suspension breaks down three days after the warranty expires.
But it’s not just that, it really makes perfect sense to build this car. Consider this: why do people buy Range Rovers? Because they want to show they’re successful and rich. Why do people buy luxury convertibles (not including roadsters like the MX-5)? Because they want the attention and they want to be seen. Combine those two, and there you are: the Range Rover Convertible. Just too bad it’s “just” the Evoque and not the Range Rover Sport Convertible, that would fit the requirements of the target buyer even better.
Although, let’s face it, this car will only be driven by women, to take them to the shopping mall and the spa, so an Evoque is large enough to fit the bill. And if it’s not ostentatious enough, one can always take it to one of those aftermarket tuners, which will happily fit 22″ wheels an tires, some fat body molds and of course Swarovski diamonds on the door handles or wherever you want them.
The Range Rover Evoque convertible will primarily be shipped to the USA, where people don’t mind showing off something different, even though the Murano Crosscabriolet may have crossed that line a bit too far. Car buyers in Europe are just so much more conservative and think more practical when buying a car.
Considering the very low ratio of three-door Evoques on the road vs the five-door version (and similarly the Mini Paceman vs. Countryman), and considering half of all Land Rovers in Europe are sold in the UK, where it rains 400 days a year, I think Land Rover should be happy when 4% of all Evoques sold in Europe have a ragtop, which translates to about 2.000 annual sales in the old continent.