In Defense of the New Range Rover Evoque Convertible

Some trucks just wanna have fun—even if just for one season.

This past year, a certain cloud lifted from the motoring skies. The Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet, a convertible SUV with a terrible face and more shake, rattle and roll than Bill Haley or any of his Comets, disappeared. It was awkwardly proportioned, generally useless, objectively terrible, but in an automotive landscape whose contours are increasingly shaped by clear-eyed product planning and committees, the CrossCabriolet was a disruptive, teal-colored mountain. Even as reviewers condemned the object, they loved the idea: a true weirdo, kicking it in a Camry world.

Turns out, the convertible SUV is getting a second act, this time furnished by Land Rover. In an update of its Victoria Beckham-endorsed style play, the Range Rover Evoque, the company has produced what it’s calling the world’s first “luxury compact SUV convertible.” It’s as if Land Rover cobbled a segment together from every option in an eBay pull-down menu.

The EvoCo keeps all of the goodies from the standard Evoque—nine-speed transmission, Ingenium engines, Terrain Response system—but swaps the rakish steel roof for a quick (18 seconds) folding softtop. With the top down, the EvoCo looks like a butched-up Volkswagen Eos, or a sporty block of orange cheddar with a windshield.

Unlike Nissan, Land Rover actually has an illustrious history of convertible SUVs: Many a Defender 90 and 110 was optioned sans roof. All the better to ogle the antelope, aye chap? Land Rover is insistent that the Evoque Convertible is an “all-season convertible,” though of course, no convertible should be driven in the winter—or even, really, the rain. And no pleasurecraft, which a convertible inherently is, should be driven all year, regardless of conditions.

This topless Evoque will serve summer duty as a wiggy beach buggy in the Hamptons. It will cruise, stereo blasting, around the suburbs like the upmarket Jeep Wrangler that it is. It will be moderately useful to its owner and a visually arrested (please, get the orange paint) oddity to passersby. It’s bizarre, it’s impractical and we love it.