CarAdvice has been attending the worldwide launch of Land Rover’s new Range Rover Evoque in the UK and after more than two-hundred kilometres behind the wheel of both the diesel and petrol versions, we can categorically say that Evoque has ‘guaranteed success’ stamped all over it.
F1 ace Lewis Hamilton wants one, and so does half the world’s motoring press. That’s your immediate reaction before you even take it for a drive. It’s a must have item according to those in the know.
If you thought Evoque looked good in the various photographs that CarAdvice has posted over the last few months, it looks ten times better in the metal.
If you look back the show car and compare the two side-by-side, there are barely any noticeable differences between the original concept and the series production model that is currently rolling off the line at Land Rover’s Halewood plant near Liverpool, in the UK.
It’s this unique situation where a concept car has been successfully engineered to produce exactly the same look in the series production car, which has created such huge interest in Evoque on a truly global scale.
The Range Rover Evoque is built on the same assembly line as Land Rover’s Freelander 2, but here’s the thing; the factory is currently producing three Evoque to one Freelander in order to cover demand.
The numbers for that particular line are staggering. The plant is currently completing an Evoque or Freelander every seventy seconds. Based on the current operating shifts, the plant will build around 170,000 of them by year’s end.
If demand climbs even higher and that’s highly likely when you consider that even though there are 20,000 paid deposits on Evoque, few if any customers have actually seen the car in the flesh yet, much less driven it; then production can be increased by moving from two to three shifts on the line.
There’s little if anything not to like about the Evoque, as it goes as good as it looks. The SD4 diesel pulls well and is very well refined but the real surprise was the Si4 direct injection turbo petrol. You won’t believe how this thing performs and sounds. From anywhere north of 3000 rpm it sounds like a Lotus Elise S at full throttle.
Best to dial up the ‘Sport’ setting on the svelte six-speed Aisin automatic transmission and use the paddle shifters, as the whole experience is a lesson to all other manufacturers on how to put proper sports performance into a compact SUV.
This is an automatic gearbox that shifts at speeds similar to that of a dual clutch unit, seamless, but also smoother. Downshifts are equally impressive, but it’s the engine note that will excite you most.
The all-electric power steering has good feel and response, and there’s plenty of weight from the straight ahead to lock.
Our test car was a ‘Prestige’ model, which doesn’t get the more advanced MagneRide active suspension, but that didn’t matter, as the Evoque is as agile as a South African Springbok, and that was on damp roads. There’s no body roll either, even when you push on.
I can tell you that the Si4 Evoque is capable of some serious speeds on the twisty Welsh roads and in-gear acceleration is outstanding for a four-cylinder vehicle in this segment.
It might be the smallest, lightest, and the most stylish Range Rover ever produced, but don’t think for one moment that it doesn’t do off-road all that well. We tested the Evoque in some of the slipperiest mud Wales has to offer (I’m talking bog mud) and this thing just went straight through it and barely missed a beat.
The Evoque may not look like any other Range Rover product, but inside the cabin, it’s a total luxury environment. The supple leather seats are superb as is the hand stitched leather dash with contract stitching
You’ll find the same DriveSelector as you’ll find in an XJ Jaguar or Range Rover Vogue and there’s a stack of elbow room between the driver and front passenger. Despite the unsually high beltline and tappering roofline, there’s a surprising amount of head and legroom in the rear seats too.
CarAdvice will bring you a full launch review of the Evoque in two parts, later this week.