Everybody wants an SUV, seemingly. Sales continue to rise as people switch from more traditional people carriers and saloon cars. The UK is also the biggest buyer of convertible cars in Europe, despite the rather tepid weather we usually face. Putting both together must surely create the ultimate sales success?
Perhaps not. Car companies have tried the convertible SUV, with varying degrees of success. Or, rather, failure. However, Land Rover is having another crack at it, with the Range Rover Evoque Convertible. It’s off to a good start, being based on the ever-popular Evoque, while the roof looks good both up and down. It’s a stylish and topless four-seater that can also cope with a bit of off-road action, so driving straight onto the beach should be a cinch.
It’s taken time to get there, but the Evoque Convertible is proving a sales success for Land Rover, with strong residuals leading to great finance packages and leasing options for customers. It looks one somebody has finally hit the perfect formula.
It’s not always been that easy though, as Nissan found with the Murano. Rarely seen in the UK, this US-centric crossover was always an odd-looking beast on British roads, and chopping the roof off didn’t help cosmetics. The latest Murano isn’t sold in this country and, fortunately for everybody else, the convertible has been dropped entirely.
The Toyota RAV4 should have done better, but the conversion from funky and agile soft-roader to an urban SUV convertible didn’t go well. Never designed to have the roof cut off, the RAV4 suffered from a complex and fragile roof that looked more like a cheap tent than an expensive SUV. When the model was replaced by something more modern, the convertible was quietly dropped.
Suzuki went all out on the X90, ensuring that it was the answer to a question nobody had asked. An SUV with a removeable roof, two wheel drive and only two seats? It was certainly rugged though, sharing bits with the proper off-road Vitara model, but that wasn’t enough to save it.
The closest the Range Rover has to competition is the Jeep Wrangler, but it was a convertible first and a hardtop second so doesn’t really count. Still, despite 60 years of development, the roof is still a pain to remove and reattach, to the extent that you can simply buy a hardtop that fills the gap. Being a proper Jeep, it’s undoubtedly better than the Evoque if you’re trying to get through the Darien Gap, but for all other uses it’s beyond dated.