Think ‘Range Rover’ and the Sport instantly comes to mind. But if the company has its way, the Evoque is slated to take its place. Ever since the LRX concept car was unveiled in America couple of years ago, everybody who saw it knew that Range Rover had hit the proverbial bullseye with this baby. But a concept car is just that, and getting one into production which even vaguely resembles it is far from easy. But Range Rover has done just that and a lot, lot more.
Even from the LRX, it was clear that the sloping roof and the compact dimensions were going to be difficult to get right in order to comfortably fit humans inside. The Evoque gets a panoramic roof (optional) which improves headroom, as well as giving the cabin a sense of spaciousness. The sporty seats feature bolsters that are sculpted to hold you in place during spirited drives. But what takes centrestage in the Evoque is that spiffy-looking rotary automatic transmission selector, crafted out of solid aluminium, which emerges from the console when the car is switched on. Top class multimedia systems in the form of either a 380W, 12-channel system with 11 speakers or a 16-channel, 825W unit with 17 speakers, both sourced from top-British manufacturer Meridian, belt out the tunes.
The Range Rover badge on the Evoque automatically implies its off-road worthiness. The Evoque boasts of the best break-over, approach and departure angles when compared to all other current compact SUVs in the market. It has 10 mm more ground clearance than the Freelander 2 and an impressive wading depth of 500 mm. To aid in all-weather driving, the Evoque has four terrain-response settings that adjust the engine, gearbox, centre coupling, chassis systems and the electric power-assisted steering. The suspension is fitted with Magneride systems, which use electromagnets to stiffen or soften the damping by changing the viscosity of the working fluid within the struts – a first for off-road applications. Other assistance for the driver comes in the form of hill-descent control, electronic traction control and other doodads.
The Evoque will be available in two main variants – a five-door version as well as a three-door option. You also can choose between the Si4 petrol motor or the 2.2-litre diesel, both inline-four cylinder engines and even a 2WD variant - a first for Range Rover. The petrol engine makes 237 bhp of power, with 35 kgm of torque – good for a claimed 0-100 kph sprint in 7.6 seconds and a top whack of 217 kph. The diesel puts out 187 bhp with 43 kgm of pulling potential, which takes it to 100 kph from standstill in 8.5 seconds and maxes out at 195 kph. Land Rover claims 11.5 kpl and 15.6 kpl for the petrol and diesel respectively.
Unfortunately, I was only driven around the facilities in Gaydon, UK, but I must say that both these engines are very silent and refined. What was also apparent during the drive was the fact that the Evoque has great handling and straight line performance and can be driven aggressively around corners, not quite the strong point for traditional SUVs. Aerodynamics and severe weight reduction have a large role to play here. Implementation of plastics for the hatch door and front wheel arches along with an aluminium bonnet and roof among others have shaved considerable kilos off the kerb weight of this car. Range Rover has tried to make the Evoque as environment friendly as possible. A lot of materials that go into it are either recycled, recyclable or both. Also, this is the lightest, most compact and fuel efficient Range Rover ever – clearly a sign of things to come from this marque of rich and illustrious history. The writer was invited by JLR for a technical briefing in Gaydon