Range Rover’s baby boomer – the Evoque – goes out with a bang off-piste in its final month on The Management Fleet
|Engine||Power||Torque||0-100kph||Top speed||Weight||Basic price|
|Inline 4cyl, 1999cc||503bhp @ 5800rpm||340Nm (251lb ft) @1750rpm||7.6secs||217kph||1658kg (143bhp/ton)||$63,900|
|Kilometres this month:||645|
|Costs this month:||$0|
|L/100km this month:||8.9|
We’ll admit that, for the past two months, the off-road capabilities of our long term Range Rover Evoque have been largely ignored. There is more to this though than shonky professionalism. After all, the sleek coupe looks, the ergonomic and premium designed cabin, and the impressive ride quality can make us forget that the Evoque is still a Land Rover. And while most of the heavy-duty off-roading has been undertaken by the Mercedes-Benz G500 4×42 this month, Range Rover’s baby still needs to prove itself a chip off the old block. Cue an afternoon run through the desert.
Not that we really doubt its capability. Back in 2012, we joined Land Rover’s Middle East team for an impromptu run across desert, rocks and wadis with success, testing its capabilities first-hand albeit while cynically trying to ignore the low ride height and comparatively long ascent and descent approach angles. Even ahead of production, six months was spent by Jaguar Land Rover’s development crew ensuring that the Evoque’s on-road civility would not impinge on its off-road toughness, said rugged skills honed around the team’s UK testing facility like every Land Rover before or since. We’re not expecting any big surprises.
Bizarrely, it’s not long before we’re dealt one. The further into Mad Max territory we go, the larger and more rutted the dunes swiftly become. Admittedly the lightweight chassis – borrowed from a Freelander of all things – and our five-door model’s 1658kg kerb weight – mean that the Evoque boings its way across the dunes compared with the Discovery’s slightly more muscular manner of bulldozing its way through. What does surprise though is the way in which we’re tossed around in our seats – even by off-road standards – a hallmark of the Evoque’s firm suspension.
Fortunately salvation arrives via the Terrain Response’s off-road setting, which automatically adjusts the dampers and torque/power distribution for more controlled body movement and better traction. It’s a technology we’ve experienced before from Land Rover, the MagneRide suspension using magnetic fluid to re-adjust the shock absorbers both front and rear, and alongside a deep reservoir of torque, allows the Evoque to plough through the dunes with little indication that it’s struggling at all. The low ground clearance did come a cropper a couple of times, but fortunately the towrope in our accompanying camera car was not required.
That would have been a great way to end our tenure with the Range Rover Evoque. Unfortunately, shortly after our off-road run had come to a close, the words ‘service pending’ appeared on the driver infotainment screen, a phrase up there with ‘cavity filling’ and ‘mortgage payment’ in terms of desirability. Maybe starting with our off-road run was the way to go, after all…