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Car reviews - Land Rover - Range Rover Evoque - Pure TD4

Our Opinion

We like
Design inside and out, smooth drivetrain, enjoyable dynamics, luxury ambience, capable dynamics, real practicality, not extortionately expensive, some off-road capability
Room for improvement
Vacuous image not in pace with actual capability, expensive desirable options, blind spots, some diesel lag

Gallery

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Land Rover logo17 May 2013

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

Price and equipment

FORGET, for a minute, that most SUVs the size of the Evoque can be had for $25K less.

If this bothers you then look elsewhere, because the littlest Range Rover will never add up.

It’s a luxury brand – one that’s a self-proclaimed off-road king to boot – so some slack needs to be cut. After all, comparable rivals such as a BMW X3 and Volvo XC60 aren’t exactly cheap either.

In this context, the $55,875 (plus on-road costs) Pure TD4 4x4 auto is right on the money.

Along with most of the gear even the cheapies throw in such as cruise control, 17-inch alloys, and Bluetooth telephony with audio streaming, this base all-wheel drive Evoque includes climate control air-con, rear parking radar, electric park brake, partial leather seats and wheel, push-button start, Stop/Start fuel-saving tech, fog lights, Hill Holder, and an on-board computer.

Our test car added a $4500 Pure Tech Pack (nine-inch touchscreen, 380w/11-speaker/subwoofer audio upgrade, ‘mood’ lighting, grained leather seats, 18-inch alloys, rear air vents, and floor mats), $1870 Clear View Pack (auto Xenon headlights with washers and rain-sensing wipers), a $1000 power tailgate, $650 rear-view camera, and $620 front parking radar.

Total outlay: $64,555.

Those options aren’t cheap. But even so, it’s still in the luxury compact SUV ballpark.

Time to play.

Interior

LOOKING splendid in (standard) Fuji White with (optional) Ebony Grained black leather interior, we were quickly surprised when most people predicted the Evoque’s price tag to be north of $65K.

What we’re saying is that people expect to pay a premium for great design. Otherwise we’d all be driving dependable Toyota SUVs.

The Evoque does have a few party tricks of its own, however, to help push people over the line, like the retractable cylindrical automatic shifter from a modern Jaguar, as well as the cool ice-blue lighting ambience.

Sturdy, solid, and well-built, the dash, too, evokes the bigger Range Rovers with its elegant horizontal lines and neatly vertical centre stack.

Being a base model, we weren’t expecting anything other than plastic (albeit of the slush-moulded variety) to swathe the fascia top, so were pleasantly surprised to find a soft wetsuit like spandex-style material instead.

Fitting the adventurous spirit of the Land Rover, it’s a novel solution to the problem of poshing up a slab of dashboard real estate.

Enough of the design details, for the Evoque actually excels with the big-picture stuff inside too.

For starters, it’s pretty spacious. Even long-legged folk won’t find the front-seat area wanting, while the rear isn’t too bad either.

Being a five-door wagon, the roofline is higher than in the coupe-like three-door version, but taller people may find their scalp scraping the headlining.

Get past the (optional) slow electric tailgate, and you’ll find a large load area as well, upping the Evoque’s family friendly quotient.

Included here are cargo rails to help keep things secure, storage underneath the floor (alongside the space-saver spare wheel), and folding split/fold seatbacks that up total volume to a handy 1445 litres.

Rear-door entry and egress isn’t brilliant, while thick pillars and the upswept window line does reduce side vision, but the lofty (and well thought-out) driving position and large windscreen provide a vast view ahead.

Comfy seat cushions with sumptuous padding and support, excellent ventilation, attractive instrument graphics, lots of slots to store things into, a very logical switch layout, and a lovely steering wheel, are further feathers in the Evoque’s stylish designer cap.

No wonder the world has gone bonkers for this… and not just the First World one, either.

Engine and transmission

PUMPING out 110kW of power and 400Nm of torque to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission and Haldex 4WD system, the 2.2-litre twin-cam four-pot turbo-diesel is a strong if vocal performer.

There is some hesitation in initial acceleration when all you want to do is move off the line quickly.

Mid-level oomph is this engine’s forte, with the Evoque easily capable of punching up to freeway speeds with just a flex of the right foot.

Selecting ‘Sport’ mode does improve response, increasing the gear change-up points. Alternatively buyers can fork out on the gutsier 120kW/420Nm SD4 performance version.

Of course, being a diesel, the TD4 can also sound a bit gruff, even through the noise needs to penetrate a wall of Land Rover’s best sound deadening attempts, betraying the engine’s Ford/PSA origins.

On the fuel economy front we averaged 11.2L/100km with mostly urban driving – what we consider an acceptable effort for an enthusiastically driven 1.8-tonne mid-sized SUV.

Ride and handling

THERE’S a Ford platform (EUCD) lurking underneath, with tenuous links to the existing Mondeo, though Land Rover says some 90 per cent of it has been modified to suit.

The Blue Oval connection, then, translates to a chassis that walks the fine line between sporty and comfort. Or, in other words, it’s a well-sorted setup.

Sharp steering and exceptionally flat cornering makes the Evoque quite the sporty little device, transcending its SUV DNA by providing meaningful responses and feedback for the keen driver.

Despite its weight, corners are carved through cleanly and calmly, aided no doubt by the full-time AWD system and sophisticated electronic stability controls, that seem to conspire to shrink the car around the driver.

The flipside is a firm ride as experienced on our (optional) 18-inch wheeled (265/60 R18s) Evoque example.

While most of the smaller frequency bumps appear to be simply smothered away, the suspension doesn’t quite have the travel to absorb bigger stuff like speed bumps with the required suppleness.

That’s the price to pay for exceptional handling and roadholding characteristics. The standard 17s are likely to be a bit more pliant.

There’s really very little road noise intrusion, however, adding to the Evoque’s luxury veneer.

Finally, the brakes are first class in their response and linearity.

Along with the usual ABS anti-lock, EBD electronic brake-force distribution, and stability control systems, there is cornering brake control for added handling composure.

Conversely, being a Land Rover, the Evoque can also handle some off-road conditions better than its Victoria Beckham branding suggests, backed up by 210mm ground clearance, as well as a litany of 4x4-enhancing acronyms like Roll Stability Control (RSC), Trailer Stability Assist (TSA), Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control (HDC), Gradient Release Control (GRC), and Engine Drag torque Control (EDC).

But can you imagine anybody taking one of these bush bashing?

Safety and servicing

MADE from lightweight steel, the monocoque bodied Evoque scores a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating.

Land Rover offers a three-year/100,000km warranty, but no fixed-price servicing as yet. Intervals are set for every 12 months or 26,000km – on the lengthy side.

Verdict

THERE are only two modern medium-sized SUVs that could accurately be called true design icons – the Kia Sportage (yes, it’s true) and the Evoque.

But only the Evoque is for the driving enthusiast, even in the base TD4 automatic, which delivers a sturdy stream of performance that barely bothers the dynamic chassis’ capabilities, with parsimony to boot.

And all this is even before you consider the emotional impact of the striking styling, or the luxury cabin’s feel-good factor.

So, yes, on purely rational terms the Evoque Pure TD4 4x4 is as expensive as it is extrovert, but there is also real depth and character to be savoured here. Attributes, we should add, that most luxury SUV rivals could only dream about.

In this context, then, the smallest Range Rover could even be construed as big value for money.

Yes, we’re shocked too.

Rivals

, Volvo XC60 D5 AWD. From $62,490 plus on-roads.
, Very distantly related to the Evoque underneath, the handsome Swedish SUV is a very different experience, prioritising comfort and functionality over driving dynamics. But the D5 is a solid performer anyway.

, Audi Q5 2.0 TDI quattro. From $62,200 plus on-roads.
, The Q5 scores with typical Audi design thoroughness combined with exquisite materials and craftsmanship. It’s also a fine drive, with a slick engine/dual-clutch gearbox, but beware of the firm ride.

BMW X3 xDrive20d. From $63,100 plus on-roads.
, Better to look at than before but still no thing of beauty, the X3 is objectively the best SUV for overall capability and efficiency, but is hampered by an unusually clinical personality.

Specs

MAKE/MODEL: LR RR EVOQUE PURE TD4 4X4
, ENGINE: 2179cc 4-cyl DOHC diesel
, LAYOUT: AWD, transverse
, POWER: 110kW @ 4000rpm
, TORQUE: 400Nm @ 1750rpm
, TRANSMISSION: 6-spd auto
, 0-100km: 10.8 (approx)
, TOP SPEED: 185km/h (approx)
, FUEL: 6.5L/100km
, CO2: 174g/km
, L/W/H/W’BASE: 4365/1965/1635/2660mm
, WEIGHT: 1795kg
, SUSPENSION f/r: Struts/Struts
, STEERING: Electric rack and pinion
, BRAKES f/r: Discs/discs
, PRICE: From $55,875 plus on-roads

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