The Evoque may be the smallest Range Rover yet, but because of its radical styling it will make a big impression out on the street. The question is, will this be favorable?
Its German competitor compact SUVs like the BMW X3, the Audi Q5 and the Mercedes-Benz GLK seem almost apologetic with their relatively bland, functional designs. BMW, Audi and Mercedes must think their buyers want more anonymity, and eschew attention-seeking.
Range Rover thinks Evoque buyers won’t be shrinking violets. The rising waist line and diving roof shout “look at me”. From whichever angle you approach the Evoque there are design touches likely to start arguments. Some models are so-called Coupes which will have some people saying, “what’s the point of a two-door SUV?
The interior is typical Range Rover in the traditional sense that invokes leather, luxury and comfort. There is a cockpit feel, with a big centre console built around the driver. There is plenty of room in the back. The sharply angled roof line suggests that normal sized rear seat passengers will be short of headroom, but that isn’t the case. Strangely, given the likely Evoque clientele, the trunk isn’t big enough to take a golf-bag without folding down a rear seat.
In Europe, there are two-wheel drive and diesel versions, with manual gearboxes, but these aren’t for sale in America. There is only one engine option in the U.S.; a two liter 240 hp direct injection turbo-charged four-cylinder gasoline motor which propels this all-wheel drive car from rest to 60 mph in seven seconds. A hybrid is promised in 2013. In unrestricted Germany, the Evoque could hit 135 mph. There is a six-speed automatic gearbox with manual override with flippers behind the steering wheel. The Evoque borrows from its sibling company, Jaguar, the idea of a gear selector disc, which rises from a flush level when you press the “start” button. You can opt for three or five doors. EPA rating is 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, but on undemanding rolling country roads in England, I only managed an average 21.1 mpg. The steering is precise and impeccable.
Prices start at $43,995, as sales begin this month. If you are willing to spend more than $50,000 the Lux pack buys things like Park Assist, powered tailgate, panoramic glass roof and blind spot monitoring, warning the driver that a vehicle is about to overtake. There are front and rear camera sensors which, if you live in the country down a narrow lane, will warn you with many bings, bongs and buzzes about threatening objects dangerously close.
Being a Range Rover, you can expect top rate off-road capability. The Evoque has Hill Descent Control and uses the Terrain Response system from the Discovery and bigger Range Rovers. You can select grass/gravel/snow, mud and ruts, sand, or rock crawl, and let the computer take the strain.
Range Rover has been brave to retain the dramatic styling from the concept model which was unveiled at the Detroit Car Show in 2008. I wonder if Americans will go for it?