I’m no stranger to Evoque. When I first heard Range Rover was building a wee baby I got excited. Most of us don’t need the full-Monty 4WD experience, so AWD will do. The concept drawings looked amazing, but as we know, concepts are rarely realised in the flesh. This one was, and there have been over 500,000 made since. Isn’t it pretty? Ignore the annoying little things, they’ll just ruin your ride, and your day. Let me explain:
Smooth and sexy, and looking all the better for the strong concept resemblance. There was a 3 door which I think was even sexier, but slow sales saw it dropped. It had a lower roof and better proportions but it just didn’t float fickle boats of those pesky buyers.
The wheels range from small and demure 17” to a large and showy 20” monster depending on how deep your pockets are.
The Day Time Running Lights trace a not-very-discrete line around the outside of the headlamp lamp cluster, with the rear lights tracing a similar line just beneath the lense. It looks so elegant and thoroughly cutting edge.
The aggressive forward slant gives the profile an attractive if slightly menacing stance. It looks like it’s fresh out of the shower after a workout. At any moment you expect it to tussle its hair while its towel falls off.
Entry level for Range Rover does not mean the driver sits entombed in poverty stricken misery. Remember, this is the baby of the family that started the whole SUV revolution. The Range Rover was the very first off-road vehicle that people weren’t ashamed to be seen in. It pioneered upper class luxury for the well-heeled, gravel-drived, country-pile owners so they didn’t have to change cars to survey their holdings from its highest peaks. Previously, they’d have been on a horse or some mangy old post-war banger with rust holes and all the power of a sewing machine.
The seats sit reasonably high despite the roof looking low. The finishes feature both high gloss piano black, and classy matte surfacing, and the leather feels supple. Our car had $4,000 worth of leather upgrades that made you feel like you were inside a Luis Vuitton show room. Unlike other Rangies, the Evoque is AWD not 4WD. It lacks fancy locking diffs and high/low gear ranges. It still manages a few off-road features such as his descent control and various drive modes, and has been filmed in places you’d think a posh soft-roader had no right being. The pop-up gear selector is a cabin highlight especially if you haven’t seen it before. Pressing the start button causes the selector to rise mysteriously from the console. It reminds me of a Madonna concert I once attended, the only thing missing was the fog machine.
The centre stack has the touch screen infotainment system, A/C and drive mode controls, as well as the electric parking brake lever. Even though the Evoque costs a mere fraction of her big daddy, the switch gear retains the same feel of quality. There is a resistance to the knobs which lends an air of longevity and class.
The rear seats have enough room for an average size adult to feel comfortable.
The cargo hold isn’t huge, but the Evoque is larger than other small SUVs so the overall space is well designed to take advantage of it. This is a newish segment where less expensive brands have been making a killing. Small SUVs are set to become the next big thing.
Our Si4 HSE Dynamic is the range topper at 80 grand plus onroads, but there is an eye-watering $18,450 worth of optional goodies on our test car. I was slightly distraught to learn that many of the things I really liked were options. See details below:
The best thing about an Evoque is that it feels like a car to drive. Even with the options, you have every right to expect a car worth almost a hundred grand to be a cracker, and it is.
It’s about now that I should make a small confession: for the first few days I thought the baby Rangie was a bitter disappointment. It was terribly slow with an engine that felt that it would be lucky to pull the skin off a custard. While sitting at a set of lights waiting to enter the Eastern Distributor I glanced down at the console. I’m a fiddler you see. I press buttons to see what happens. “Oh,” I thought. “Um, oh dear me,” I continued to mutter. I realised I had been driving around in “SNOW” mode. I selected “NORMAL” and the world became a much rosier place.
It is about now that I’d normally say, “however we were not able to evaluate any of the special driving modes as we did not encounter adverse weather conditions, and did not venture off road”. I can certainly see how robbing the engine of power, and taking off in second gear would stop the wheels from spinning in icy conditions. The less said about this embarrassing misadventure the better.
Moving on, the Evoque was a pleasure to drive. Once in normal mode, the engine felt responsive. The 0-100 time of 7.6 seconds is reasonable for a small turbo-petrol 4 cylinder pulling 1658kgs. Equally impressive is the combined 7.8L/100km fuel figure.
The Evoque feels light and nimble, and the ride is smooth most of the time. I noticed a bumpy corner made it feel slightly jittery, but this misdemeanor fades the further you drive. There is less body roll than you might expect and has the all-round performance of a smaller, sportier coupe.
Before we move on, I want to spend a moment on the 9 speed auto transmission. Selection via the electronic rotary knob takes a little getting used to, but is easy once you’re practiced.
The 9 speed ZF box is used in other brands, for example the Fiat-Chysler’s Jeeps and Fiat 500X, plus some of the Hondas too. There were reports of teething problems for the world’s first 9 speed. Most were not serious but a few owners reported unintended shifts into neutral, and rough changes into and out of 1st gear. One owner was found pinned to a wall after his Jeep went from park into neutral without the brake on. Similarly, the auto shifter into neutral from Drive, at speed. The issues appear to have been fixed in most cars. We had no such issues. I noticed the change from drive to reverse is much faster than it used to be. After trawling the forums, I discovered a software upgrade fixed the issues. Our petrol model felt noticeably smoother than a diesel we drove earlier in the year. The diesel took a long time to change from reverse to drive when backing out of a parking space.
The infotainment system is easy to use and fairly quick to respond, but could definitely be quicker. The Satnav needs a second to input each character and I can’t help but feel a faster processor would hasten the waiting time. This unit is common across other Jaguar-Land Rover models.
Although the sound is good, I’d like to be able to have more control over the tone. I’d like a subwoofer too while I’m about it. When I plugged the USB into the phone, the Bluetooth disconnected. Unsure if I was doing something wrong, I tried again. It seemed to be working but when a call came through, sure enough the Bluetooth had disconnected again. I will follow this up to see if there is a problem.
Meanwhile, to amuse your friends, put the television on. The driver will see the normal screen, but the passenger will see the TV programme. The dual screen appears to display two different things in the same space but employs clever prism-shaped cells. It can show the same display, or two different displays on the outward facing surfaces. As you move your head from one side of the cabin to the other while staring at the LCD, the picture changes. The sound comes through wireless headphones. We didn’t get a chance to try this out on the road, but on the surface of it, seems a great feature. Remember, you’ll only get TV in a digital reception area so on long trips you’d need to BYO viewing. I’d be interested to see if you can play a DVD in dual screen mode. That’s a question for next time.
DAB radio has the same limitations. Music streaming via the internet has slightly more range, but on long trips going in and out of cell range will drive you potty unless your system has a substantial buffer.
The driver’s seat has a huge number of electric adjustments, and as I said before, has leather that felt like a pair of kid gloves.
The full glass roof option costs $1,800 and has an interior roller blind. I’m not a fan of full glass and would not choose it. It adds weight to the top of the car raising the centre of gravity which is a bad thing in cornering. I didn’t test it in summer but one wonders if the cabin would bake even with the blind closed.
I was impressed by the sporty feel of the handling. With 2 on board, the mountain passes were a doddle whether uphill or down. The auto is best used with the steering wheel paddles if you fancy a bit of fun otherwise the auto is going to try and get to the top gear as quick as it can.
Life up front is good. The view is excellent in all directions, and the parking cameras make up for any shortfalls because of the high rear end. The ride firm but smooth and the engines are sublime, especially the petrol.
The inclusions are impressive but as always, luxury brands like their pricey options list. Such is life. They sell it to us as the customer being able to customise their purchase, but we all know that is code for “spend, spend, spend”. If you don’t like it, don’t choose any.
I never got the gesture-tailgate to work. I know it does, I’ve see the video, but that’s as close as I got.
Although there are one or two little niggles, there is nothing I couldn’t live with and as premium SUVs go, the Evoque ticks all the boxes.
The performance won’t snap your neck but it’s more than enough to make the weekend fun, and still be a comfy commute on week days.
I like Evoque for its cheeky face and pert rump. The profile is sporty with the roof sweeping rearward like a hot hatch.
It is the best of both worlds because it has proved to be a dab hand at light off-road work. Well, it would wouldn’t it? Its dad is the venerable Range Rover which can cross continents, wade through water over half a metre deep, and crawl up rocky escarpments with the aplomb of a mountain goat. Evoque doesn’t possess the full 4WD system of its dad, but the AWD is brilliant regardless.
Evoque is for the buyer who fancies something nice to ride in, but has the cash to be different and not care whether others approve or not. The looks aren’t for everyone, and to them I say tough luck.
There are now over 500,000 Evoques, so you might even dip your toe in the muddy waters of the used-car market. You can get a (high km) 150,000 km, 4-year-old example for around $35,000 for the base model Pure which goes new for around $52,000. It means they have a reasonable resale after your loan period lapses.
Of course you can get a proper 4WD for less money, but look at Evoque, it’s gorgeous!
Would I buy one? Yes.
MAX POWER (KW)
MAX TORQUE (NM)
MAX SPEED (KPH)
1,999cc Si4 turbocharged petrol engine
177 @ 5,500
340 @ 1,750
Up to 1,800 KG
-Automatic 9-speed incl. Drive Select, with Paddle shift & Sport Mode
19″ Alloy – 7 Split-Spoke Style 707 with Sparkle finish
InControl Touch (11 speaker incl. Subwoofer, 380Wt Meridian Sound System, voice control)
Parking Aid – Front & Rear Sensor
Rear Camera incl. hitching guidance and Rear Junction View
Lane Departure Warning with Autonomous Emergency Braking
Gesture tailgate (Hands-free open and close)
Head up display
HDD premium Navigation
Electronic Power Assisted Steering (EPAS)
Four Wheel Drive (4WD) with Active Driveline
Torque Vectoring by Braking
Xenon Headlamps w/ LED Signature Lighting & Auto Headlamp Levelling
Rain Sensing Windscreen Wipers and Automatic Headlamps
Configurable mood – lighting
Exterior Mirrors- (Electric Adjustment, Heated, Power Fold, Puddle Lamps w/ Projected Evoque graphic, Direction Indicators)
12/12 Way – Electric Memory
Solar Attenuating Windscreen
Headlamps – Power wash
Fog Lamps – Front
Steering Wheel (Perforated Oxford Lthr w/- Audio & Cruise Control)
Oxford Leather (HSE DYN style) with Perforated Mid-Section
Tread Plates – Illuminated “RANGE ROVER”
Carpet Mats – With Edging
Firenze Red/ Ebony Full Perf Oxford Lthr Seat
Black Pack w/ 20” Satin Black Style 508- $4650
Front seat entertainment pack (InControl Touch Plus – 17 speakers including sub-woofer, CD and DVD player, Digital television with dual view screen and wireless headphones) – $4400
Full Oxford leather interior – $1920
Adaptive Dynamics – including Dynamic Mode – $1850
Extended Leather Pack- $1920
Fixed Panoramic Roof incl. powered blind- $1800
ATPC – All-Terrain progress control – $ 460
Santorini Black Contrast Roof- $920
PRICE AS TESTED
(Please note that ORC are dependent on which state is registered, driver history, etc.)
*Currently with free on-roads.