Overlooked creativity: paying my respects to the Evoque convertible
So the new Range Rover Evoque is out and I'm not sure about its looks. It isn't an ugly car, it absolutely isn't, but A, it looks like a scaled down version of the Velar and B, it's a step down in originality.
The Range Rover Evoque was put on sale in 2011 and it was an instant hit, everybody bought one because it looked cool and because it gave you quite a lot for what it cost but, more to the point, people loved it because the final product really did look a lot like the original LRX concept introduced in 2008. That's unheard of.
The Evoque we saw in the showrooms had a a breakthrough design that didn't really change much from concept to actual production car and we all know how carmakers operate, they design and showcase a beautiful concept car made of feathers and solidified Gin and then end up selling you the same old beige crossover. JLR didn't and I think Gerry McGovern deserves a design medal for his work.
In 2017, JLR decided to go to the extra mile and put their clown shoes on by offering the world a convertible version of the Evoque.
From the outside it looks as advertised, they took an Evoque and cut its metal roof off and replaced with a canvas one. It has three doors and utilizes the same engines as the standard Evoque.
The one I've driven is the HSE model, which comes with a TD4 178 hp diesel engine with permanent four-wheel coupled with a 9-speed automatic. It also has Terrain Response and that means it can do this:
And it's not just any Terrain Response, it's Terrain Response 2, the evolution of the clever system trademarked by JLR. What it does is it allows you to select one of several settings (grass, gravel and snow) that optimize performance on a variety of different surfaces. The system automatically detects what sort of terrain and makes the necessary electronic adjustments to traction. And, should you be so inclined, you can manually override the system.
I didn't, because I'm not that good.
On the road, make no mistake, this is a bit of a poser's a car. It's the sort of vehicle you expect to find outside Caffè Roma in Forte dei Marmi. I'm not implying that's a good thing or a bad thing, I'm just telling it how it is, but the fact is it feels pretty cool to drive with the top down.
And the great thing about is, when you're tired of Forte dei Marmi, you can put the roof up, or not, and drive to the nearby Marble quarries in Carrara and the car will be able to cope with the slippery slopes of sand and marble residue because, apart from its clever 4WD system, it also has good ground clearance.
While the "standard" Evoque was a best-seller, the convertible wasn't, and I'm assuming that's because people thought it was a bit too much, a bit too camp, and it was, in a way, but it was also a brilliant piece of dynamic creativity. And that's why I loved it.