We attend the live debut of the droptop in chilly Los Angeles

Temperatures were unseasonably cold in Los Angeles, California last night; coincidentally creating perfect conditions for Land Rover to unveil its Range Rover Evoque Convertible to members of the media. Company design director, the typically rakish Gerry McGovern, was able to wear a scarf as he presented the company’s all-weather convertible, striking a pose that should be standard issue for owners of this niche lifestyle vehicle.

Journalists schmoozed and played a game of Nissan CrossCabriolet Jokes One-Upsmanship before the event started, of course. But there’s no question that the Evoque soft-top is better positioned to succeed than its Japanese quasi-forbearer. The resounding reason? The Range Rover isn’t tremendously ugly, for a start.

I’ll admit that, when I saw the debut photos of the Evoque Convertible, I found the stubby proportions and roof-down silhouette to be a bit jarring. Seen in the metal, the thing resonates with me more. Presented in white paint over black wheels, especially, the high beltline and visual mass of the vehicle are lowered and reduced, respectively.

I was also impressed that the sneaky capaciousness of the standard Evoque seems to have been carried over to the convertible version – at least for passengers. At six-feet, five-inches tall I was able to sit comfortably in the rear of the crossover, with another six-footer in the seat forward of me. With the convertible top raised, my head did get flattened a bit, but not so much that I’d avoid riding in the back for stints of 10 or 20 minutes.

Clearly engineers have absorbed the convertible mechanisms into storage space, not passenger space. The boot of the Evoque is quite limited in both aperture and capacity, though company reps did remind me that there’s a pass-through for “skis” and “2x4s.” That last one uttered without a trace of irony.

Construction vehicles they are not, but McGovern hammered home the point that the Evoque three- and five-door crossovers have been a tremendous success. The compact Range Rover has sold more than 400,000 units since its debut, and the company sees room to expand the idiom. It’s too early to speculate on sales figures for this upcoming convertible, but one can imagine it taking up a supporting role in the range not unlike droptops from Mini, Fiat, and Volkswagen, to say nothing of Mercedes-Benz and BMW. As a vacation-home-tender for weekenders in Veil or Waikiki. And certainly, cold weather or not, hotbeds of money and style like LA should see a big share of the Evoque Convertible style.

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