Words & Pictures: Kevin C. Limjoco
One of the finest juxtapositions of form and function
Admittedly I have been pretty critical of Land Rover vehicles for some years now mainly because of their failure to innovate enough to be more than just status symbols of a time when it was once the king of the genre. There have been herculean efforts though since TATA took over, and I do recognize that the model range is fast becoming genuinely and universally competitive again. But the current crown jewel of the entire range, including the recently launched all-new Range Rover, is definitively the Evoque.
Often mistaken as a byproduct of Victoria’s (Beckham) worst kept secret, the Evoque in both 3 and 5 doors are exceptional luxury vehicles. Victoria in the end had the last laugh because her actual limited edition variant which she did have a real design hand in is the finest of the range with only 200 exquisite examples ever built.
What began as the LRX concept back in 2009, the Evoque broke all Range Rover traditions and is in fact the turning point for the brand. Not only is the Evoque fully functional and fully usable in real world situations, its level of comfort, design and craftsmanship parallels even the most opulent Jaguar.
Moreover, what makes the Evoque so compelling and desirable to a vastly larger consumer base, is that it is dynamically the fastest, best handling, most fuel efficient, and arguably the most enjoyable Range Rover ever built! Its off-road ability may not be as effective as its larger brethren but that is why they still exist. Our fully-loaded test unit for example was simply wonderful and I wish I spent more time behind the steering wheel, I could never say that about any other Range Rover. Our 5-door example had the lovely panoramic roof combined with the best combination of leather materials, interior trim, and the incredible Meridian 825-watt 17-speaker audio system on top of an already outstanding list of equipment.
Now for the informed few out there, the upcoming 2013 Ford Escape 2.0 EcoBoost actually shares mechanically plenty with the Evoque, for a fraction of the cost but for once I can say that there is certainly more than enough to justify pining for the Evoque. I assure you, after only a few minutes caressing the brilliant textures and absorbing all other sensory inputs to your brain on the move, you will start figuring out how you can find the means to acquire this overload of greatness.
Our test unit didn’t even have the optional MagneRide magnetic ride control dampers that provide continuously variable rates, and the ability to select a Dynamic mode that also sharpens the response of the standard electric power steering, yet I didn’t even look for it. The very car-like Evoque is very nimble, enthusiastic, and even precise. The standard Terrain Response system is always functioning and adapting, transferring power where needed but the Evoque is primarily a front wheel drive under normal driving duties. The Haldex AWD system engages and transfers torque front to rear as needed through open differentials at both ends, nothing exceptional here by design but what is great is the seamless execution and how effective the mode-settings are with that added sense of flair.
The build quality of the Evoque is very impressive, the body feels indestructible, yet it is light and eager to dance. There is no hint of creaking sounds from the interior panels and such under even some pretty harsh road surfaces that we encountered. Even the rear seat passenger comfort is better than in most sedans, and passengers get a remote control too to manage the infotainment systems, but do still try to keep only 2 passengers there as even how fabulous the interior is, that third person would ruin things for everybody.
My only issues with the Evoque truly are limited to the extreme acquisition cost and that the exhaust system castrates the remarkable engine to the point that it sounds like it is strained even if it isn’t.
Engine: Inline-4, 1999 cc, dohc 16V, Direct Injection Turbo, Twin-VVT, 6-Speed AT
Max power: 240 bhp @ 5500 rpm
Max torque: 250 lb ft @ 1750-4000 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 7.5 sec.
Top Speed: 217 km/h (135 mph) Governed
Fuel Mileage: 18 mpg City & 28 mpg Highway
Price as tested: US$ 57,670.00
+Gorgeous interior, the most alive and best performing Range Rover ever, outstanding equipment
-Engine exhaust note inappropriately dull, too exclusively priced even if mostly justified
C! RATING: 10/10