Does the company’s most ‘lifestyle’ model – the Evoque – still boast Range Rover capability?
|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|
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|Kilometres this month:||834|
|Costs this month:||$0|
|L/100km this month:||8.7|
To many, the Evoque is a radical departure for Range Rover, and as a fan of the overly rugged, brawny brand of four-decade lineage, I admit to being sceptical when the Evoque first landed five years ago (and indeed when our brand new long termer rolled into CnP towers). Much like when your favourite band changes musical direction after many years of Top 10 hits, you still enjoy them, but it doesn’t feel quite the same…
A three-hour odyssey (originally 40 minutes) through Dubai’s city streets to drop off some camera equipment recently gave me time to put such predilections to bed. After all, the Middle East and its flamboyant demeanour is the fashionable Evoque’s natural habitat, like it or not Mr and Mrs Beckham. Scornful fans will decry this, but much like the convertible version, this was Land Rover’s primary goal to lure in trendy new customers. And while I wouldn’t begin to associate myself with such company – I still own the same weathered pair of Crocs I bought two years ago – I’m also pleased to see the ‘lifestyle’ element of the Evoque hasn’t overtaken the Range Rover capability.
Handling for an SUV is tidy, the Evoque’s steering finding a nice compromise between shoulder rupturing weight and flighty insignificance. Turn-in is satisfyingly responsive, there little in the way of pitch – again for an SUV – as the tyres grip cling on through the corners. Refreshingly, even the oversized 19in wheels do not adversely affect the ride comfort or the turning circle: three-point turns are bullied into submission when, inevitably, I make a wrong turn en-route to our rendezvous. Fair enough, the wheels can feel a little fidgety over rutted sections, but rarely does the ride feel jarring or crashy. Due credit to the adaptive dampers.
Such composure and precision is beyond Range Rover’s both past and present, SVR maniac included, courtesy of the Evoque’s compact packaging. Amazing really, considering it shares the Freelander’s platform.
Of course, such compact / fashionable lines can a problem with practicality make. Loftier rear passengers may struggle with both head and legroom (I’m thankful ours is the five-door option), and the boot is far less cavernous than the sloping, elongated hatch might suggest. The worst culprit though would be visibility, an appropriately chic rear window and enlarged pillars don’t offer the support one would like in such heavy city traffic. A question mark still lingers over both fuel economy and the efficacy of the Sat Nav too: either I’m technically backward or the latter needs a refresh ASAP.
But on the whole, with three hours of city driving behind me? The band may not play the same hits it once did, but you will find me buying tickets for the comeback tour. Even if they do play their latest set.