Since my teens, I have always been fascinated with the Land Rover brand – whenever I watched movies of heroes driving a prestigious off-road vehicle, it was usually a full-sized Land Rover or Range Rover. Fast forward to 2012 when Range Rover introduced the contemporary Evoque line, and I was even more fascinated. Range Rover knew they needed to add a smaller vehicle to its line-up to capture a diverse audience, and it had done it. Now in its 3rd year of production, the Evoque continues to be a hot-selling SU-crossover, with even more impressive specs.
What can you say about the Evoque’s exterior styling other than wow! This vehicle demands attention and respect, which it gets. It is also one of the few vehicles that has successfully fused traditional Land Rover cues with contemporary design elements. For example, the front end has hints of Land Rover, especially in the grill and hood. Depending on trim of choice, the lower bumper is either aggressive and bold, or elegant and refined. As you move to the sides, the rising beltline, along with the muscular shoulder and tapered, sloping roofline, give the Evoque an athletic appearance. From the rear, the styling clearly reflects the bold off-road capabilities of the vehicle, with a small rear window, high bumper, and dual exhaust pipes. One would think that the Evoque would have sub-standard outward visibility, but surprisingly, it does not. That’s because all the windows, front, side, and rear, have been placed at the driver’s eye line. This vehicle is definitely eye-candy for people of all ages, which is reflected in its high sales numbers.
Step inside the Evoque and prepare to be awestruck with the lines, flow, and curves of everything from the dash and center console to the seats and ginormous panoramic roof. For those of you who know your interiors, you’ll notice some mix of Ford and Volvo, and that’s because when the Evoque was being designed, Range Rover and Volvo were both still owned by Ford. Don’t get me wrong – the sleek interior is a masterpiece and still purelyRange Rover in look, feel, and fit and finish. The center console has some of the controls for audio and climate, while the floating center touchscreen controls most everything else from navigation, settings, parking assist, and Bluetooth connectivity. For Canadian consumers, a heated front windshield is standard. The front seats are very comfortable and offer good legroom, while there is adequate legroom for adult passengers in the rear. Even though this is a compact vehicle, the large moonroof gives a much more open and airy feeling.
Pressing the start button brings this Rover to life and the shifter, clearly from Jaguar, rises from the center console. The lightweight, direct-injected, turbocharged 4WD 2.0 litre engine, borrowed from Ford, produces 240hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough power to launch the Evoque from 0-60 in just 7.1 seconds, while maintaining excellent fuel economy. The engine is mated to a brand new nine-speed – that’s right, you read correctly, nine-speed automatic gearbox. The previous six-speed was very good, but this new ZF transmission is just superb, providing a smoother drive and increasing fuel economy by 11%. Also new is a four-wheel drive system that disengages at speeds above 35 km/hr, thus reducing load on the drivetrain. Of course, should grip be necessary, the four-wheel drive system engages in just 300 milliseconds.
Driving the Evoque is not like driving your typical Range Rover. It is noticeably stiffer around corners and over bumps; but remember that this vehicle is smaller, shorter, and more ‘car-like’ in driveability. None-the-less, the ride is quite smooth thanks to the new MagneRide and Adaptive Dynamics technology, which monitors the vehicle 1,000 times per second. The Evoque is very easy to maneuver and is a breeze to drive around the city. Parking is made very simple with the automatic parking assist technology, where through the use of cameras, the Evoque is able to parallel park itself. I know this technology is not new, but it sure is amazing. On the highway, the Evoque offered a very smooth and quiet ride, and the electric steering provided exceptional feedback. For a smaller compact vehicle, the Evoque was firmly planted and I had complete confidence driving on the rain-soaked and snow-covered streets. While on a quick trip to Squamish, the Evoque was quite nimble and I was able to throw it into the curves easily. This is a very fun vehicle to drive! Although I didn’t have the opportunity to take the Evoque off-road, I was assured by Land Rover Canada that the vehicle is more than capable and lives up the brand’s name.
One of the most important aspects of driving in today’s world is the ability to connect the driver to the vehicle. Range Rover has done an exceptional job in its voice operated controls of Bluetooth, navigation, and audio. I had no problems in placing calls, changing audio inputs, and setting a destination on the navigation system. Playback of audio on the Meridian sound system was music to the ears and made the daily commute more than enjoyable. The only complaint I have is that the Evoque does not have the ability to dictate/show, or reply to, text messages. Yes, it is a minor complaint and is not a deterrent for choosing this vehicle.
The Range Rover Evoque, like its older siblings, has a plethora of safety features to ensure driver and passenger safety: Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Alert, Intelligent Emergency Braking, Park Exit, hill-descent, and Parking Assist Cameras are just some of these. This Rover is available in a number of trims: Pure, Pure Plus, Pure Premium, Prestige, and Dynamic. Go for the Pure Premium or Prestige because you will have all the premium features you need without breaking the bank. The Pure starts at $47,965 while the Pure Premium and Prestige will run in the mid to high $50K mark.
The Evoque is one of the best premium compact SU-crossovers available. Yes, it is probably a few thousand more than its competitors, but it has the attitudeand style that the others don’t. You need to drive it to really experience it.