Car reviews - Land Rover - Range Rover Evoque - Prestige
Land Rover models
Decent fuel economy, style and substance, great six-speed manual, gains more than it loses for urban driving, effective idle-stop system
Room for improvement
No automatic option, quality still a concern, engine lacks grunt and is unrefined at idle, pricey options
4 Oct 2012
LAUNCHED last December, the Range Rover Evoque quickly became Land Rover’s best-selling product in Australia, even before the front-drive, entry-level variant was available.
Losing the weight and complexity of an all-wheel-drive system under the floor aided fuel consumption, with an official combined fuel use rating of 4.9 litres per 100 kilometres representing a 14 per cent saving over the manual AWD TD4 and adding an extra 170km to the theoretical tank range for a total of 1160km.
We did not manage to achieve the official fuel figure, but 6.4L/100km in mainly urban and suburban driving was respectable enough.
Our test car was the $66,995 eD4 Prestige coupe, which costs $3400 less than the equivalent all-wheel-drive TD4 Prestige, with which it shares a 110kW turbo-diesel engine but has the torque scaled back 20Nm to 380Nm.
In theory, the torque deficit should be made up for by the 75kg weight loss and round town we found the engine pulled well and offered more than adequate thrust.
However, we experienced a frustrating lack of go when driving on twisty uphill roads, which also made us question this Evoque’s country road overtaking ability.
The six-speed manual transmission – no automatic is offered on the eD4 – is a pleasure to use, its stylishly chunky selector a visual clue to the well-weighted, meaty and slick short-throw shift feel, complemented by a pleasantly light clutch pedal.
As a manual Evoque, the eD4 also comes with fuel-saving idle-stop technology, which only activates when the driver selects neutral and takes their foot off the clutch.
For drivers used to keeping the clutch depressed and first selected while waiting at traffic lights, this may seem a bit of a ritual but, fuel savings notwithstanding, relief from the borderline unacceptable noise and vibration of the Evoque’s four-cylinder diesel unit is well worth it.
In addition, the Evoque’s idle-stop seemed more willing to activate in all conditions compared with others we have tried that can be quite fussy about temperature and other factors – and the engine always fired up in plenty of time for first gear to be engaged.
All-wheel-drive Evoques we have driven displayed impressive handling for an SUV and the eD4 is just as much fun – dare we say a little more nippy in the city – due to the extra agility that comes from shedding the equivalent of an average male passenger in weight.
In dry conditions there is little to separate the eD4 from its AWD siblings apart from a touch of tyre chirp and mild torque-steer if accelerating hastily out of junctions – and the traction control system takes over to tame the worst excesses anyway.
At other times it just does not have enough power to overcome the grippy front tyres – especially as our test car was fitted with optional ($1000) 20-inch alloys that looked great and had us detecting only a slight adverse effect on the Evoque’s otherwise firm but compliant ride.
The Evoque is a head-turning car at the best of times and Land Rover has hit the nail on the head with its ‘power of presence’ advertising slogan but our car in metallic Colima Lime green ($1300) with contrasting Santorini black roof ($995) and EVOQUE personal numberplate took this to the next level.
To be honest, we felt a bit embarrassed driving it.
On the inside, the only clue that this was a lesser variant was an aluminium plate on the centre console bearing the Evoque motif that replaces the Terrain Response selector.
The car we drove was fitted with Cirrus white leather with Lunar grey contrast stitching, making for a bright environment that almost matched the bling exterior for its gauche, nouveau riche connotations.
But we liked the sporty seats that, unlike the broad, smooth seats of Evoques driven previously, gripped the body well and eliminated annoying buttock slides when tackling twisty terrain.
They were supremely comfortable for taller drivers, but the short of leg found the long thigh support – and its bulging leading edge – made it hard to fully depress the clutch pedal.
Disappointingly, every Evoque we have driven has had some kind of trim rattle or loose trim and this was no exception. As with one of the coupe variants we drove before, the rear-right speaker on the eD4 rattled annoyingly.
The huge door mirrors are also at odds with the slim windows, adding to the numerous blind spots that are a penalty for the swish styling, so the $1575 Surround Camera System option fitted to our test car came in handy.
By the way, the Evoque’s mirrors have an Australian connection as the puddle lights that project an Evoque logo onto the ground at night are an Aussie-made, Aussie-innovated feature from Adelaide-based supplier SMR Automotive.
Other options fitted – increasing its price over basic spec by $10,730 – included the $5900 Prestige Tech Pack, which adds a hard-drive-based premium satellite-navigation system, front parking sensors, a powered tailgate, automatic climate control, illuminated tread plates and stowage rails in the boot.
Land Rover’s navigation system is pretty dated and at odds with the ultra-modern interior and its good-looking integrated touchscreen display, and why isn’t climate control standard on a $66,995 car?
As far as we can see, external clues to the eD4’s status in the Evoque range are – like the AWD TD4 – are limited to a single tailpipe rather than the dual outlets of more powerful SD4 and Si4 variants, although the Dynamic trim level hides this with faux dual outlets built into the rear bumper.
But even the least expensive Evoques feel just as special and exclusive as top-spec variants, further democratising Range Rover ownership.
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