Since its launch in 2012, the little Range Rover Evoque has become the Land Rover brand’s best-selling model ever, so it’s no surprise the British maker is looking to expand Evoque’s appeal. But it remains to be seen what sort of reaction there’ll be when a soft-top version of the compact ute comes to market early next year.
No surprise, Land Rover is hoping to build interest and expectations with a few shots of the Range Rover Evoque Convertible being put through its paces at the brand’s proving grounds near Eastnor Castle, in Herefordshire, UK.
“Land Rover prides itself on being a class leader when it comes to all-terrain capability and the Evoque Convertible is no different,” said Mike Cross, Land Rover Chief Engineer, in a statement accompanying these images.
Cross suggests that through the use of “innovative engineering and the application of advanced technologies,” the Range Rover Evoque Convertible will maintain much the same level of on- and off-road capabilities as the current, hardtop ute.
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The British brand, part of the Indian-owned Jaguar Land Rover, teased its plans for an Evoque Convertible by driving a prototype through the partially completed Crossrail subway tunnel underneath London earlier this year. The public got a first look at a concept version at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.
While clearly unusual, the ragtop version of the Evoque won’t be a first in the utility vehicle segment. Nissan attempted to pull off a similar concept with the ill-fated Murano CrossCabriolet. That vehicle was killed off after just a few brief years on the market due to sluggish sales.
Precisely why Land Rover thinks it will do better with the Evoque Convertible is far from clear. But it may be hoping that with its smaller size a ragtop version of the compact ute will be more visually appealing to potential buyers. Nonetheless, considering the modest sales of the overall convertible market would suggest that this offering would be more of an image car than a serious contributor to Range Rover volume.
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The new images feature a camouflaged version of the ragtop Evoque, but considering the timing of the convertible’s launch, next spring, one can expect it to share many of the basic features that the hardtop model will get for 2016 as part of a mid-lifecycle update.
“Our challenge has been to evolve the Range Rover Evoque design without diluting its distinctive character,” Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern said, ahead of the Geneva debut of the 2016 refresh.
Key styling signatures, notably the rising beltline and the rearward sloping roof, remain hallmarks for the updated Evoque. But there are some notable exterior updates, including a new front bumper, and two different grille designs. The basic version uses a fine mesh with twin crossbars, while the Dynamic models get a hexagonal pattern. Three new alloy wheels also are being added for 2016. From the rear, the 2016 Evoque will get wider, slimmer LED lamps and a new spoiler.
A modified version of the Evoque’s new Rollover Protection System is expected to be included as standard fare on the new Convertible, several sources suggested.
There are a number of new tech features likely to be shared across the Evoque family, including a Driver Drowsing Monitor that watches for the sort of steering inputs that might suggest a motorist is falling asleep. If that happens, it will flash a visual warning and then an audible alarm.
Inside, the infotainment system now can be operating using smartphone-style swipe gestures, and smartphone apps can controlled from the touchscreen. A buyer can opt to upgrade from a basic 6-speaker system up to two Meridian audiophile packages using either 11 or 17 speakers.
We’re expecting to get an undisguised look at – and more details about – the Range Rover Evoque Convertible during next month’s Los Angeles Auto Show.
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