Range Rover is a brand that has long been regarded with opulence, class, sophistication, and a dash of reservation. The Range Rover Evoque, however, eschews the brand’s traditional qualities by offering a mix of sumptuous finishes with a modern design that begs to be driven at a heart pumping rate. Yes, it’s a CUV – a class of car that has long been regarded as a utility vehicle that forgoes the caveats of its full sized brethren- but yet it is still large enough to accommodate those that demand a vehicle that won’t wince at the sight of a pot hole, or cry afoul if mud is slapped on its facade.
However, the Evoque is something of a sports car in sheep’s clothing. From the outside the Evoque is sleek, sporty, and boasts a set of adrenaline inducing lines that will solicit an oggle or two from even those dressed in their Sunday best. Seriously, the Evoque looks good from any angle, which isn’t something I often get the luxury of espousing. But, and yes there is a but, a design of this nature has resulted in a sacrifice in terms of visibility from within the interior cabin (interior panorama below).
Much like BMW’s X6, the Evoque’s rear windshield is, well, quite small. Follow the lines of the roof and you’ll quickly understand why it’s a bit like looking through one of those security slots in a door found in back alley speakeasies. That said, it’s not a problem while driving in a forward trajectory, as the blind spot detecting, large side mirrors combined with the rear view mirror provide a more than adequate view of one’s surroundings. Nevertheless, thank God Range Rover has outfitted the Evoque with a rear view camera complete with sensors and a warning system such that you don’t run over the neighbor’s kid, or back into an old lady pushing her shopping cart through the Ralph’s parking lot. That said, using the rear view camera to backup takes some acclimation and isn’t something I would recommended for the faint of heart. That, or to those married to the idea of looking through the back window while reversing. Nevertheless, I faired find during my 7 days of travel despite my discontent for such a caveat.
And Range Rover didn’t stop there. In my model, which almost topped $59,000, they’ve packed in 4 additional cameras providing a full 360 degree view of the car’s surrounding. Zombie Apocalypse preparedness comes to mind, but if cooler heads are to prevail the cameras can be useful to ensure that you’re legally parked the correct distance from the curb, not infringing on a handicap spot, or that there isn’t anyone lurking too close to the Evoque’s front wheels as you race away from mashing the accelerator to the floor.
Which mind you happens at an astoundingly fast rate for a vehicle of this ilk. Powering its jet propulsion like agenda is a 4-cylinder 2.0l turbo charged 240hp engine. By our accounts we achieved a rather nimble 0-60mph in a hair over 7 seconds. Not too shabby Range Rover. Keep in mind that this vehicle is NOT marketed as a sports car, but wrap a blindfold on me and slap me silly, because if I didn’t have eyes I might have thought otherwise.
And like a an awards ceremony, the credit goes to the Evoque’s MagneRide suspension system. Ask a scientist and they’ll tell you that it “works by magnetising iron particles inside the suspension fluid to quickly adapt shock absorber firmness to road changes.” Ask me and I’ll tell you it magically converts the Evoque into a sports car, at least internally.
This feature comes by way of a single button press, which resides just below the Evoque’s unorthodox gear select knob that magically erects itself from the center console when powered on. When “dynamic mode” is selected, the speedometer and tachometer’s lighting turns a firey red, the supsension firms, and the steering turns from comfortable to nimble. It’s a subtle change, but one that can be felt immediatley if traversing bumpy terrain. And while that sounds like a drawback, trust me, it’s not. Turning the gear select to S, which engages the computer’s aggressive shifting alter ego, compounds the effects, but I’m one for the manual, so the paddle shifters suited my needs just fine.
And by just fine I’m referring to effortlessly zipping between lanes on the 10 freeway, or hugging the windy roads of Malibu’s canyons. It’s a cliche, but Evoques drivability had me grinning from ear to ear. In fact, on my last night with the car I determined that the only way to drive this vehicle is as aggressively as possible. That’s probably the last thing one should write in their review, especially when they’re trying to develop a relationship with one of the best car makers in the world (see what I did there?).
So superlatives aside, their are a few shortcoming I have to make note of. The Evoque operates on a 6 speed gear box. It’s by no account buttery smooth, which is evidenced at slower speeds, hence my emphasis on the drive fast thing. While I didn’t fill a cup to the brim with steaming hot coffee, allow me to exemplify my point by suggesting a lid. That in mind, the turbo lag on the vehicle has been fairly well addressed, though the 4 banger can be a bit short on power during the initial wind up, but it is an inline 4, so it’s really par for the course in that respect. Nonetheless, the accelerator and brake’s pedal feel is ample and well suited, as is the steering response, though I can’t recommend the dynamic mode enough, especially for those looking for a driver’s experience. Body roll is almost no where in sight, at least for this type of vehicle, and can be further eliminated (or increased for comfort) by cycling between the different driving modes.
But the Evoque isn’t all drive and no play. Situated in the cabin is a myriad of features that had me busy for the full 7 days I had the car under my command. I’ve already told you about the adaptive suspension system, camera system, and cat like reflexes that the car embodies. What I haven’t mentioned is the full rear entertainment system in each headrest (8-inch screens), which can be controlled via a docking touchscreen remote that works surprisingly well.
Though, keep in mind that the backseat is hardly suited for large adults, or adults of any size for that matter. My 6-foot 2-inch frame required the driver’s seat to be in the furthest position back, which resulted in the same amount of leg room as found in my 2003 VW GTI’s back seat. A similar scenario exists in the Evoque’s trunk, where I wasn’t able to get a full load of Costco groceries inside. However, Costco is analogous to bulk, so it doesn’t do much to exemplify my point. That isn’t to say the Evoque isn’t a comfortable or accommodating vehicle. But much like the limited visibility of the rear window due to the beautifully crafted roof line, the same sacrifice has been made in terms of cabin space. Some of the smallness is of course offset by the massively large sun roof that extends from the front seat to beyond the B pillar of the car. However, it doesn’t open, though a motorized sun shade can help diminish the added heat on those blistering hot, crystal clear days.
For those who actually decide to drive this AWD vehicle in cold and inclement weather, there are of course heated front seats, as well as a heated steering wheel. It’s a far cry from a remote start, but I’ll settle for the feature, especially seeing as the keyless remote can open the rear trunk from afar, something I’m far more inclined to use here in SoCal. Lock the car and the mirrors automatically rotate out. Unlock it and they fold out and beam a light to the ground that is complete with the Evoque’s logo – for some reason I really enjoyed this detail. As they say “the Devil is in the details,” and the Evoque is no stranger to the man with those dangerously sharp, and exquisitely shiny horns.
However, that isn’t to say that Range Rover is an angelic being, able to do no wrong. Just lay your finger on the 8-inch Nav’s screen and your brow will drop with massive disappointment. It’s slow, arduous and all together the same old, uninspired nav UI that is only further hampered by its more than cumbersome operation. Good thing the rest of the car is birthed from an elite spawn, which is further evidenced by the magnificent sounding 825-watt, 12 speaker Meridian surround sound system.
I was also thoroughly impressed with the Evoque’s auto adjusting headlights. Though my night time driving was few and far between, it performed flawlessly by activating and deactivating the high beams when oncoming cars approached or vehicles lay in my path. So flawlessly in fact, I now wonder why all vehicles don’t include this feature?
There is no way to overlook the Evoque’s price tag, which starts at $44,000. As tested my Evoque cost $58,195, certainly no drop in the proverbial bucket. Personally, that’s a rather sizable figure to muster especially in the context of a CUV. But price aside the Evoque drives, feels, and elicits a response from my heart and soul that hasn’t been felt since I drove my first car in 1996.
Bottom Line: a sports car masked in CUV clothing, and quite possibly the only Range Rover that looks good from every angle.
- A car like ride in a CUV package
- Well appointed creature comforts with attention to detail
- Magnetic adaptive ride is nothing short of amazing
- Antiquated nav system that is slow and uninspired
- Slightly lurchy 6 speed auto transmission
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- Ranger Rover Ultimate Edition