Land Rover's vision of an open-top off-roader would become the world's first luxury SUV convertible, though Nissan has already planted its pole in this unlikely niche segment with its Murano CrossCabriolet.
The Evoque Convertible is on display at the 2012 Geneva motor show. Land Rover says it wants to build the model but that consumer response to the concept will help determine a final decision.
“If you remember with LRX [which previewed the Evoque] back in January 2008, we said then it was a concept car to gauge reaction, it was going to be a big decision, a huge investment and we wanted to get it right … and we were told you’re mad if you don’t do it,” Land Rover boss Phil Popham told CarAdvice in Geneva.
“But we still researched that more than any other vehicle in our history, and I’m glad we did because we’ve had to invest in capacity and it’s been a huge success. “This is a big engineering project to do a car like this. It would be a first not just in terms of an SUV convertible, but one that has to have all the DNA of a Land Rover in terms of capability, so it has to be engineered properly, we have to make sure there’s a market for it.
“So we are serious about researching it.”
It’s believed Land Rover could get the Range Rover Evoque Convertible into showrooms within two years if it’s satisfied there will be sufficient customer demand.
The engineering challenge for the Evoque Convertible would include adding sufficient body strengthening, which would inevitably increase the model’s weight compared to the three-door and five-door Evoque models already on sale in Australia.
Land Rover designer Gerry McGovern also told CarAdvice that the Evoque Convertible would be a more genuine off-road convertible than the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet.
“This is a Range Rover so it has to have luxury execution, it’s a Land Rover so it has to have that core capability, and those are the two things that clearly differentiate from that vehicle you mention [Murano convertible].
“But there are a lot of [vehicles] we want to do [at Land Rover], and so I suppose it’s about deciding what are the things that are going to build the brand, build the business. “So that’s [the Evoque Convertible] a great image developer for the brand, but we need to work out if it make sense from a business standpoint.
“We have a desire to do it.”
Land Rover has also used recent motor shows to test public reaction to its DC100 concepts that showcase a possible design for the Defender replacement due within a few years.
Land Rover Australia currently can’t order enough Evoques to satisfy local demand.