Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Range Rover Evoque

Inside and outside, the Evoque’s design tells observers that the driver has arrived
You can measure the importance of a car by the length of build-up to its introduction, and by this yardstick the new Range Rover Evoque is possibly the most important car to be launched by Land Rover in the last decade

First there was the concept, then the public debut (where Victoria Beckham made an appearance), and now finally (after a wait that felt as if Christmas had been postponed), the real thing is here.

The Evoque is crucial because it will be the most accessible Range Rover ever sold. It’s a crucial distinction: the Evoque is cheaper than the Discovery, but that wears the Land Rover tag. The Evoque is a car for those who can’t yet afford a full-house Range Rover but want its status and prestige.

It all begins with the outside appearance of course, which by any standards is eye-catching. The fact that the Evoque looks like a concept car that has driven straight off the show stand shows how brave the company has been.

It has clear brand identifiers such as the clamshell bonnet and twin-bar grille, but the overall shape is much more radical and has a street-toughness about it that mixes with the luxury feel.

Whatever your opinion, the Evoque has unquestionably captured the attention of the car-buying public, and that is more than half the battle. Land Rover has also cleverly gone down the route of massive personalisation, to tempt potential buyers even more.

There are 12 exterior colours, three roof colours and eight alloy-wheel designs, and that’s just the outside. There are 16 “tailored” interiors available as well as a huge list of options.

Choosing your own will be a delicious and welcome dilemma, which is the whole point, but regardless of the boxes ticked, the Evoque’s cabin is another big plus. There are lots of geometric shapes inside that tie with the exterior looks, while the trim and the displays scream luxury.

Of course, this is a significantly cheaper car than a Range Rover, but the Evoque sits comfortably in the same ball park as its illustrious big brother.

Go for the five-door and you have a clearer view out and easier access to the rear seats. The three-door is arguably better looking but with the inevitable penalty of a tricky journey to the second row. Boot space is good regardless, but families who want room will be better served with five doors.

Under the skin, the Evoque has more options than any Range Rover before. As well as the obvious four-wheel drive layout there is a low-emission front-wheel drive model paired to the cleanest 148bhp, 2.2-litre diesel, which achieves an impressive 133g/km of CO2.

There is a higher-output 187bhp version of the diesel, as well as a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine that is comfortably the quickest of the range. If you want the full experience then the more powerful diesel with four-wheel drive and automatic gearbox is the way to go.

Land Rover laid on some off-roading for the test drive, and it took only a few hundred metres to dispel any fears about this being a showy on-road poser. The Land Rover off-road genes are clearly there, and the car is capable of more than 99 per cent of its land-dwelling owners are ever likely to go near.

It is on road that the Evoque is most impressive. Most immediately apparent is the directness of the steering, which is well-weighted, with decent feel and a surprising sharpness which highlights how agile and planted the car is.

Even in town, it makes you forget you are driving something which could be called an SUV. The ride, with standard suspension, is impressive too, although alloy-wheel options and the impressive MagneRide damping system give more comfort or sportiness as desired.

Once you’ve finished cruising sedately and glancing at your reflection in shop windows, the temptation to explore its abilities on a quiet road will be irresistible. The promise shown at low speeds is fully realised here too. The Evoque corners with zeal, shrugs off its kerb weight and attacks the road like an overgrown hot hatch. That it can do this without feeling out of its depth in mud or too harsh on broken streets is testament to its breadth of ability.

Some people won’t like the looks and others will dismiss it as another soft-roader for those who don’t need it. But viewed as a car in its own right, the Evoque is a mightily impressive piece of engineering and design.

It is highly desirable, very capable and even decent value. If you’re not a fan already, maybe the sight of hundreds of them on the road in coming months will change your mind.

Combining concept car looks with lightweight technologies, the Range Rover Evoque goes on sale at Shukers Land Rover Shrewsbury and Shukers Land Rover Ludlow with more than a million development miles under its bonnet.

Related Posts:
Range Rover Evoque Coupe Video Review : Motorward
Buyer’s Guide: 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
Test Drive: Range Rover Evoque
Range Rover Evoque Review: Telegraph.co.uk
Range Rover Evoque is a winner: CarAdvice

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