The Evoque Convertible is a very rare thing, a drop-top SUV. Hats off to Range Rover for forging a brand new sector with its posh model, which capitalises on the demand for off-road styling while catering for those who enjoy the feeling of wind in their hair – and like everyone else to see them while doing so.
Yet while the Evoque is in a class of one, that doesn’t mean it has usurped the conventional premium convertible. We’ve pulled in the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet for a cabrio head-to-head to see which model the beautiful people might fall for – and why. The diesel models tested here are the £47,500 Evoque 2.0 TD4 180 HSE Dynamic and the £41,575 Mercedes C 220 d AMG Line auto.
As befits their badges and price tags, both models are beautifully equipped. Among the standard-fit kit on both models you’ll find sat-nav, DAB, climate control, heated seats and a rear-view camera. The Range Rover boasts real leather upholstery, and the Mercedes has LED lights and Airscarf neck-level heating system.
Whereas the Evoque’s dashboard feels more substantial, the C-Class’s looks more modern, and there’s plenty of space up front in both cars. Rear-seat passengers fare better in the Brit model, however, as there’s more room for adults. All occupants will appreciate the quieter top-down ride in the Mercedes, and its roof mechanism operates more quickly, by six seconds.
When it comes to carrying loads, the practical constraints of storing a folded top mean neither car’s boot is especially roomy, but at least the C-Class’s Golf-sized load area can be boosted by split-fold rear seats. The Evoque doesn’t offer these, and its luggage space is smaller to start with.
On the road, the Range Rover has a smoother high-speed ride as standard, and better deals with bumps in the road. The Mercedes can be bought up to par with the addition of the optional £895 air-suspension. The chunky SUV is more powerful, but its lighter rival is the better performer – and it’s generally more refined as well, although neither model is exactly quiet under strain.
The German model has the edge for steering, handling and body control. Its wheel is more naturally weighted and the dynamics more settled on urban roads – unlike the tall Evoque, which can be jarring on its stiff springs. Its nose ducks more under braking, as well.
The C-Class’s superior drive and better overall practicality than the Evoque – despite having less cabin space – hand it the win here. It’s cheaper to buy and run too, outright, on finance or as a business purchase. The Range Rover holds is value better, however, and we can’t argue that its strong image holds a great deal of appeal for its target audience. Drop-tops are more about the pose than anything else, and for that, at least, the Evoque gains full marks.
Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet C 220 d AMG Line auto
Engine size 2.1-litre diesel
List price £41,575
Target Price £41,066
Power 168bhp @ 3000-4200rpm
Torque 295lb ft @ 1400-2800rpm
Top speed 145mph
Gov't fuel economy 61.4mpg
CO2 emissions 123g/km
Range Rover Evoque Convertible 2.0 TD4 180 HSE Dynamic
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
List price £47,500
Target Price £47,500
Power 178bhp @ 4000rpm
Torque 317lb ft @ 1750rpm
Top speed 121mph
Gov't fuel economy 49.6mpg
CO2 emissions 149g/km