The Evoque is a beautifully designed SUV coming from the Range Rover stable; but the Brits have now introduced a drop-top version of it. Alongside the Evoque Convertible, we have the gorgeous Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster. No we are not pitting them against each other in a car versus bike showdown, but this is all about open-air theatrics. Well, I think only the Evoque can give us the ‘wind in the hair’ feeling and do not recommend you ride the Bonnie without wearing a helmet, no.
“I may not have a drop of ancient Greek blood in my veins, but I am as enamoured by the idea of an open air theatre”
The Greeks loved theatre. As a matter of fact, whether you talk about the Athenians or the Ithacans, theatre was a national pastime. They loved their comedies, satyrs (satires are the descendants of this form of burlesque) and tragedies. Complete with actors and actresses donning masks to portray emotions. But you know the best part about Greek theatre? It was held under the open skies. Hell, these guys were designing open air amphitheatres, amphitheatron to the ancient Greeks, that could seat thousands of people centuries before Christ.
Which brings me to these two open top British icons. Fine, the motorcycle couldn’t have been anything other than an open top, but if you’re talking about enjoying an under-the-open-skies experience in iconic vehicles, then these two are perfect. The Range Rover Evoque Convertible and the Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster, bound as they are by the shared legacy of being British icons.
Range Rover Evoque Convertible – Drop-top to up-top in 18 seconds
Eighteen seconds is all it takes to go from a fully enclosed acoustic chamber featuring that lovely Meridian sound system to a fully open air theatre experience in the Range Rover Evoque Convertible. Even when you’re on the move, as long as you’re below the 50kmph threshold. Going back to the enclosed opera house takes three seconds longer. On a glorious day like today however, there’s no need for the opera house. I’d rather have the open amphitheatre. And quite unlike the stone slabs on which the ancient Greeks had to plant their tush, mine is comfortably ensconced in a plush leather couch. Sorry, I meant seats, but they’re really that comfortable.
“From the Range Rover to the Triumph, the open air sensation is further heightened”
That Meridian system with its ten speakers and that woofer does create quite an aural experience. And Morisson’s throaty singing reaches my ears undisturbed. In spite of the fact that the top is tucked away and there’s the usual racket of Indian roads all around me. Not to mention half a dozen looney bikers going crazy with their cell phone cameras. I have to admit that this open top SUV creates quite an impression.
Wind in the hair, shall we?
But soon enough I feel irritated and can’t wait to get past these helmetless jokers who think nothing of putting their lives, and my car, in danger to get a shot to show their pals. So as soon as the roads opened up a bit, I planted my right foot firmly down. With the 2-litre four-cylinder Ingenium petrol putting out 237bhp at 5500-6000rpm and 340Nm of peak twist from 1500-4000rpm being sent to the wheels via a seamless nine-speed auto ’box, getting away from the brat pack is a piece of cake. Range Rover claims that the drop top Evoque can do a nought to 100kmph run in 8.1 seconds and can go on to a top speed of 217kmph.
Honestly though, speed runs isn’t the Evoque Convertible’s forte. Not with the amount of scuttle shake it exhibits when pushed. Especially over rough roads. In fact the rattles are the only thing that mar the otherwise wonderful open air theatre that the topless Evoque provides. Cruising at moderate triple digits is much better. Speaking of rough roads this is a Range Rover and naturally gets the benefit of that wonderful Terrain Response System. So if you’re in the mood for some mudplugging under the open skies, this is the car you must have. And that’s normally something we would indulge in, but not today.
Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster – The iconic British cruiser
For today, I also have this as a companion to the Evoque Convertible, the Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster that has just roared up next to me. This glorious twin-cylinder motorcycle is Triumph’s ode to an earlier Speedmaster made by the same company. With its swept back handlebar, tall windscreen and feet forward pegs, it cuts a striking figure. And the rich note from those twin slash cut peashooter exhausts on either side of the motorcycle is absolutely fantastic. Even if you’re wearing a full face helmet and it isn’t really a literal wind in the hair, the stuff that’s disappearing far too rapidly from my skull, experience.
From the Range Rover to the Triumph, the open air sensation is further heightened. Here there are no doors to shut, no couches – even though the well padded seat is extremely comfortable, no Meridian sound system to indulge you. Just a rich and raw experience of being connected. Not to your smart phone but to the motorcycle and the road you’re on. The song you hear is not from ten speakers and a woofer but the one that’s playing in your head because you feel so great on the bike.
Like the Evoque’s Ingenium motor, the Speedmaster’s 1200cc liquid-cooled parallel twin is a torquey gem. Peak output is 76bhp at 6100rpm with max torque of 106Nm kicking in at 4000 revs. Transmission is six speeds and each gear slots in with positivity, showing no signs of clunkiness or notchiness. Get up to cruising speed, slot it in sixth and then just let her be. I guarantee you, the bassy thrum of the engine and the smooth and stable ride will get you smiling before the digital odo moves past the first five kilometres. Get a set of fast sweeping bends and she handles perfectly and braking is spot on with those 310mm discs with Brembo twin pot callipers up front and a 255mm disc with Nissin single pot calliper at the rear.
Of course by no means is she perfect. Like the Evoque Convertible, and like all things British, she has her quirks. Mostly relating to ground clearance. For she grounds out far too often for comfort thanks to that ultra low stance. Makes her look super classy no doubt, but not entirely practical over Indian speedbreakers. The only other issue is that windscreen that ensured the wind wouldn’t hit my face or chest but the top of my helmet, resulting in a bizarrely uncomfortable experience at anything over 110. Thankfully, the latter can be solved. You can simply not opt for this optional accessory. The former, unfortunately, is something you’ll have to live with.
Oddly enough, the motorcycle with its comfortable pillion seat comes across as more practical than the convertible. In the latter you would really have to crawl your way into the rear seats. And then you’d have to Google ‘space’ to find some for your knees. It’s ridiculously impractical. But look at these glorious machines. If you ever owned one, or if you do own one, or even if you’re planning to own one, would you really care? I wouldn’t, for the charm of an open air theatre that you get with these two is undeniable. For sure, the Greeks were on to something. Even back then.