New 2012 Range Rover Evoque: light on weight, lighter on your conscience
The beauty of the Evoque is more than skin-deep
Wednesday, 01, Jun 2011 03:46
by Marcus Dubois
Many motoring journalists will be familiar with that sinking feeling. When an exciting, dynamic concept car is well received by public and press alike - and then goes past the committee and safety tests to emerge tamed and compromised. Yet what's remarkable about the hotly anticipated Range Rover Evoque is the resemblance to the Land Rover LRX concept of 2008. The extreme raked roofline, the peeled back slim headlights, and the coupe-like stance have all made it to the production Evoque.
The beauty of the Evoque is more than skin-deep however, and extends to an argument that could define the very future of Land Rover. With the length of a family car and the emissions of a supermini the new vehicle is an attempt to tackle the gas-guzzling reputation of Land Rover head-on. Recent directives from Europe have meant car companies have been forced to reduce emissions in their fleet, so the Evoque should be the closest you'll get to guilt-free 4x4 motoring.
Coupe looks, 4x4 stance
Approaching the Evoque for the first time is an event. This car is the Audi TT for off-road vehicles, with an instantly recognisable and striking profile. Available in both three-door and five door options, each model sports a tapering roofline and slim headlights for an aggressive purposeful look. With pricing starting at £24,000, the range is offered in three trim levels with top-of-the-line Dynamic models hitting £44,000.
Step inside the Evoque, and it becomes clear the designers aimed for a modern take on the luxury of the Range Rover. The soft-touch plastics and flush switchgear comes straight from its bigger brother, while the leather is commensurate with the forty-year old name it carries. The driving position is similar to the Range Rover Sport, with a high centre console wrapped around the driver like a sports coupe. Everything is close at hand, with superb information screen for sat-nav, phone and audio.
Four wheels driven or two?
Die-hard Land Rover fans may want to look away now. The Evoque departs from the typical "go-anywhere" Land Rover brief with a two-wheel drive version. The firm explains it cuts 75kg from the kerbweight while adding stop-start technology for greater economy. Yet some purists will refuse to accept what is seen as brand dilution.
If the move to two wheels is a step too far, then fear not: most versions of the Evoque come with all wheels driven. Land Rover claims it used the Volkswagen Scirocco and Audi TT as benchmarks for handling, and although the baby Range is no coupe to drive, in all formats the steering is crisp and weighted. All Evoque models come with the five-seating Terrain Response dial, which changes the chassis and dampener settings according to driving conditions. The result is an extremely capable car which strongly echoes its older sibling the Range Rover.
Four engines are on offer at launch, with the quick 240bhp turbocharged petrol claiming impressive acceleration figures. However the best seller will undoubtedly be from the three diesel ranges, with both more suitable for our purpose.
Three variants of the 2.2 diesel cover everything from economy to performance. The eD4 uses a 150bhp version married to front-wheel drive, and emits less than 130g/km of CO2. Land Rover is claiming a staggering 58mpg on the combined cycle for this model.
Our pick of the bunch however is the 2.2 litre turbodiesel which offers impressive torque output for towing and decent returns at the pumps. The 190hp SD4 four-wheel drive version will undoubtedly prove the bestseller on UK roads.
Since the final design was announced 5,000 UK buyers have parted with a deposit of £2,000 without so much as driving the Evoque. And there is no doubt Land Rover has a potential sales smash on its hand. It is to their credit that the firm did not abuse this goodwill and cut corners, but worked hard to create a genuine "baby" Range Rover with commensurate levels of luxury. The only question remains, can they build them fast enough?