Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Evoquative: the ultimate all-rounder

ITS heart may be in the country, but Range Rover – for so long the preferred transport of the country set and most naturally at home on rural lanes – has a new sibling, and despite being created for city living, the new Evoque is the greenest Range Rover yet.
Available as a three-door coupé or five-door, the Evoque is the smallest and lightest Range Rover ever. We’re driving the Evoque from Anglesey – the original home of Land Rover – across Snowdonia and on to Liverpool.

Everywhere we go people stop to look. Evoque started life as the Land Rover LRX concept and the car has made it to production with barely any changes. Not only is this a very rare thing, the visual drama that remains means the Evoque may now be the world’s most desirable 4x4. Whether this represents a dramatic evolution or an exaggeration of traditional Range Rover design depends on whether your viewpoint is at the CAMRA end of weekend off-roading or the Chelsea end of Saturday shopping. It’s worth remembering that as far as Land Rover is concerned they’re not expecting a single, traditional Land Rover owner to sign up for this car.

While still obviously a 4x4, the Evoque has an athletic and dynamic look thanks to its slim headlights and distinctive taillights, high, sloping waistline, low windows and pronounced wheel arches. Keep in mind that a special Victoria Beckham edition Evoque is still to come and you get an idea for the kind of buyer Land Rover believes will be seduced by this car. The company expects the average Evoque buyer to be young, cool, design-conscious and living in the city, rather than labrador-loving country types. In fact, more than 80 per cent of the 20,000 sales so far have been bought by complete newcomers to this off-road brand.

And there’s no element of style over substance here either. The Evoque is just as credible off-road as any of its bulky brethren, even if it is a car that’s clearly been designed with an on-road city crowd in mind. On a memorable off road test route in Snowdonia and driving through an old railway tunnel underneath the City of Liverpool, the Evoque proves its credentials. On-road the Evoque feels fast and agile, yet it still manages to cushion urban potholes too without any bother. The best of the three engine options is the Si4 240bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine – capable of 0-60mph in 7.1 seconds. But other than some increased road noise, the SD4 190bhp 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel engine is very nearly as much fun too. There’s also a 150bhp 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel-engined version which emits less than 130g/km CO2.

Inside, the interior is excellent. In our Si4 Dynamic version, the seats are in leather, with a textured aluminium-like finish used on the centre console and dash and perforated leather for the steering wheel and gearshift. Aluminium pedal covers complete the sporty look. My colleague watches TV on the eight-inch dual view touch while I follow the nav system from the driver’s seat. With the optional panoramic glass roof the interior is a super place to be.

So for us city-dwellers, the Evoque is a no-brainer – luxurious but economical, comfortable and cool-looking: it’s as happy to rush you around the city during the week as it is comfortable on the motorway to whisk you to your weekend home. It can even plough through furrows of mud on the country lanes when you get there. This is a near-perfect all-rounder. Get your order in quick before it becomes a ubiquitous as a Mini.

PRICE: £39,995
0-62MPH: 7.1 SECS
CO2 G/KM: 199G/KM

DESIGN *****

Source: Evoquative: the ultimate all-rounder

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