Chris Miller road tests and reviews the 2014 Range Rover Evoque.
The Range Rover Evoque has been a huge hit worldwide, and with good reason. A striking design, excellent dynamics, powerful engines and plenty of luxury combine to make the Evoque one of the more accomplished small SUV’s on the road.
To wear the Range Rover badge, the Evoque needs to live up to the tradition of ultimate luxury and excellent off road ability…and it does in spades.
It’s around town though that the Evoque really shines. Nimble and athletic, the Evoque is a surprise in the way that it handles. Easy to park and with a reasonable amount of cargo space, it’s functional and supremely easy to live with.
With a base price of $68,895 for the Prestige TD4 as tested, our car was also fitted with a few rather expensive options that saw the price jump to $77,565 before on roads. It certainly couldn’t be described as budget priced, but in comparison to its main competitors (like the BMW X3 & Audi Q5), the value equation stacks up quite favourably.
There are a couple of engines to choose from; A petrol 2.0 turbo litre that develops a healthy 140kW and 420Nm, or as tested, a 2.2 litre turbo diesel producing 110kW and 400Nm.
Both are hooked up to a standard six-speed manual or an optional smooth shifting 6-Speed auto with a graceful rotary selector dial that can be controlled manually by flappy paddles behind the wheel.
The diesel powered Evoque is spritely and gets away from a standstill with a fair amount of urgency that feels faster than the official 0-100km/h time of 9.6 seconds.
The 400Nm of torque provides a forceful shove in the back from quite low in the rev range making it a really easy, quite satisfying drive. We’d hoped for better economy, but with a stop-start system reserved for manual variants only the best we could muster was around 10 litres per 100km, admittedly in mainly city driving.
The on road manners of the Evoque are very civilised. It changes direction easily at speed with a nice weight and feel to the steering, handles low speed corners well by providing plenty of grip, and delivers a reasonably plush ride around town, even sitting on 19 inch alloys wrapped in 235/55 tyres.
The Evoque also shines on the gravel, soaking up corrugations with the minimum of fuss, and if you want to head off the road, the Range Rover Terrain Response system with Hill Descent and Start control and a Gradient Release and Acceleration system will get you there with the push of a button. It’s a very capable little unit.
The biggest downside to the Evoque would be visibility from within the cabin; a direct pay off for the eye catching design. Forward vision is hampered not by the A-Pillars, which is common in modern cars, but by the enormous wing mirrors hanging off the side – at times you’ll even need to shift in the seat to see around them.
It’s a little annoying but worth the aggravation for such a unique look. The narrow rear and side windows also restricts visibility, but is overcome by an optional suite of parking sensors and an excellent rear camera.
The interior is reminiscent of the big Range Rover, with an elegant dash architecture wrapped in high quality Oxford leather with contrast stitching.
The seats, both front and rear are large and comfortable, and together with a chunky steering wheel that has a telescopic adjustment, it makes it easy to hunker down into a great driving position. The legroom in the back is a little restricted, and cargo area is far from class leading, but the space is adequate and comfortable.
A decent size 8-inch central screen that is easy and logical to operate is the interface for audio, video, phone and navigation control.
ANCAP has rated the Evoque 5 Stars for safety and as you’d expect it has a full suite of airbags including side curtain airbags for front and rear, and a knee bolster airbag for the driver. Stability and traction control, ABS brakes, Roll stability control, Engine Drag Torque control, trailer stability assist and electronic brake force distribution are all standard.
The option list is certainly long…and expensive. Options fitted to the test car included; HDD Premium Navigation System, including a Hard Disk Drive audio server, TNC – Dynamic route guidance, and “Say What You See” voice control - $3400. Commandshift 6-speed automatic transmission - $2 480, Panoramic roof including power blinds - $1 500, Rear View Camera with tow hitch guidance - $670, Park Distance Control – Front - $620.
Of course, you can keep on spending.
A further $1900 will get you the tech pack which includes Xenon HID lights with a rather groovy LED signature lighting system, blind spot monitoring and auto climate control with air filtration. Add $2,300 for an electric tailgate, $2,300 for an analogue/digital TV receiver, $2,600 for Premium metallic paint and $670 for privacy glass.
For a set of screens in the back you’ll need to set aside a whopping $5,800. As you can see the price can blow out very quickly, but the Evoque’s competitors are no different.
The premium SUV segment is hotly contested and the fight is about to become fiercer still with new challengers coming in the shape of the Mercedes-Benz GLA and the Porsche Macan.
Still, even with the impending new arrivals the case for the Evoque stacks up. It is well thought out, executed beautifully and is a proper Range Rover in every sense of the word. It has a road presence like no other car, is satisfying and accomplished on and off the road and is uber stylish.
For now the Range Rover Evoque is still the top pick in the segment, and with an imminent upgrade on the way that will add three extra cogs to the automatic gearbox and improved efficiency and technology, it looks destined to stay there.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 2.2 litre turbo diesel developing 110kW and 400Nm or 2.0 turbo petrol developing 140kW and 420Nm
Transmission: 6-Speed manual or optional 6-Speed automatic
Safety: Five stars
Origin: United Kingdom
Price: From $77,565 (as tested)
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