I recently had the chance to drive a Range Rover Evoque Convertible. This opportunity came to me from Turo, which is this service that lets you borrow other peoples’ cars instead of the traditional normal, dull rental cars.
I chose it because the Range Rover Evoque Convertible is one of the most bizarre vehicles on sale today — and one of the most bizarrely expensive. Today I’m going to illustrate why, and I’m going to start in an obvious place: the pricing. Oh, yes, the pricing.
The Evoque Convertible starts at $53,000 with shipping, which is already fairly pricey for a 2-door, 4-cylinder car. It’s even more expensive when you consider that the base model — called the “SE Dynamic” — doesn’t include heated seats, a navigation system or any modern safety tech, like a blind spot monitoring system, lane-keep assist, automatic braking, a 360-degree camera and others. To even have the chance to get those items, you must upgrade to the HSE Dynamic, which starts at $58,700, and now you’ve just paid nearly 60 grand for a 2-door, 4-seat, 4-cylinder vehicle. And you still don’t have those safety features: To get them, you must add the Driver Assistance Plus package ($3,400) and the Lux package ($2,700), which brings your total to $64,800.
The Evoque Convertible I drove had all this stuff, and it also had the Black Design package, which added another $3,500 to the bottom line, and the Cold Climate package, which added $500. Even at that sum — $68,300 with shipping — you then must pay $750 for SiriusXM satellite radio, which the owner of my Evoque did; that brought the total to $69,500 with shipping, making this one of the single most expensive 4-cylinder vehicles on the market.
Which would be fine, if it were great. But it isn’t.
There were a few Evoque Convertible issues I had that may have been specific to the particular example I rented (though I must say it was in excellent shape, with only around 10,000 miles). Specifically, a not-so-insignificant amount of rainwater would enter the cabin during hard cornering with the top fully up and secured. And when the windows got wet, they made an almost unbelievable screeching noise — almost like every time you pulled up to a toll booth and rolled down your window to take a ticket, there was an army of Harry Potter villains trying to break into the car.
So fine. Let’s say not every Evoque Convertible has those problems. Let’s give the thing the benefit of the doubt.
But even if that’s true, you’re still dealing with the following circumstances: You’ve paid somewhere between $60,000 and $70,000 for a Range Rover Evoque. This figure buys you a 240-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, which sends you from zero to 60 in around 7.7 seconds, meaning this isn’t exactly a performance car. It also buys you only two doors and only four seats — one fewer than even the 4-door Evoque — and the back-seat space is miniscule, absolutely unusable for adults, and (when the top is raised) difficult for any human being to climb inside. Cargo space is also highly compromised due to the convertible top, meaning this isn’t exactly a practical car, either.
And then there’s the issue of ground clearance. Land Rover touts all its vehicles as go-anywhere, off-road-capable beasts that can tackle the wilds of the world, but the Evoque Convertible I drove had 20-inch wheels with ultra-thin tires, and it could barely tackle the potholes in the Miami area. It’s also worth noting the Evoque Cabriolet has just 8.5 inches of ground clearance, which is less than a Subaru Forester. I get the sense it isn’t exactly tackling any off-road terrain, meaning this also isn’t exactly an adventurous car.
So you pay 70 grand for the Evoque Convertible, and you’re getting a rather slow, impractical vehicle without the usual adventuresome Land Rover capabilities.
Now, before I go any further, I should say that I actually like the regular Evoque. It’s not hugely expensive (it starts at just $42,500), it’s reasonably practical in 4-door guise, and it’s spry, attractive and reasonably efficient. But the Evoque Convertible loses virtually all of those benefits, and charges you an extra 50 percent in the process.
So what do you get? Well, I admit, the Evoque Convertible has some pretty nice technology. There’s a good backup camera. It has one of those systems that automatically steers you out of a parallel parking spot. The interior is decent. There are “RANGE ROVER” badges on virtually every surface. And, of course, you get a removable roof, which you can put down at any moment, when you want people to stare at you and wonder exactly what possessed you to buy such a vehicle. You also get civilized road manners, acceptably tight and predictable steering and handling, and a noise-free driving experience — when the windows aren’t screaming at you like a contestant on The Price Is Right.
Unfortunately, this is not enough for me to recommend the Evoque Convertible, although it seems my opinion isn’t really necessary: I’ve seen just four of these on the street, including the one I drove around Miami for the week.
What I do recommend, however, is that Land Rover build a convertible version of the next-generation Defender — because open-top off-roading in a capable, go-anywhere vehicle is a lot more exciting than open-top cruising in an impractical, $70,000, 4-cylinder weirdmobile. So, Land Rover, you’ve put the soft top on the wrong car. Fortunately, there’s still time to rectify your mistake.
Also published on Medium.