The names Land Rover and Range Rover do have a certain cachet: the brand itself exists since 1948, while its most famous model saw the light of day back in 1970 and is now associated with luxury and comfort.
To broaden its customer base, Land Rover launched the Range Rover Evoque a few years ago. It’s a small urban SUV that boasts a contemporary shape and a reduced footprint. It shares nothing with the “real” Range Rover, apart from the infotainment system and a few buttons, so why does it share its name? Simply because saying “I drove to work in my Range Rover” sounds pretty good!
A question of looks
If we place the Range Rover Evoque beside the Range Rover and the LR4, we can barely believe that they’re all produced by the same manufacturer. If these other family members are massive and square, the Evoque is all about roundness and, well, smallness. While the Range Rover and Land Rover LR4 offer a more classic look, the Evoque stands out with its modern shape.
Without a doubt, the Evoque doesn’t target the brand’s purists, but rather a buying public that wouldn’t normally consider a Land Rover product on their shopping list.
Worthy of the name
Obviously, it would be a sin for a Land Rover to not include a four-wheel drivetrain, and that’s why the Evoque comes standard with an AWD setup (in North America, at least).
The Terrain Response system so cherished by Land Rover is also included, which helps adapt the vehicle’s settings according to road conditions, whether it’s asphalt, sand, mud, snow… This system works wonderfully: at no moment did I feel that the Evoque wasn’t sure-footed. Even in a big snowstorm, the SUV handled itself brilliantly.
No engine options are available for the Evoque. The only one offered is a turbocharged, 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that develops 240 horsepower and 250 lb.-ft. of torque. The only transmission that can be connected to it is a nine-speed automatic sourced from ZF.
If a few automakers are having troubles with that gearbox (notably Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), it works very well in the Evoque, and does its job fluidly to the point where we don’t notice it anymore… which is a good point for the transmission. On the road, the Evoque is at ease, its engine never runs out of breath and it’s possible to squirt effortlessly through traffic.
As mentioned above, the Range Rover name is synonymous with luxury, and the Evoque’s cockpit abides to this rule. In our HSE Dynamic tester, all the surfaces within hand’s reach are wrapped in high-quality leather.
The seats provided plenty of lateral support without being uncomfortable, are very cushy and even offer a massage function. In addition, rear passengers benefit from a sufficient amount of legroom. Finally, the huge sunroof made the cabin feel more spacious than it really was.
There are only two things that bug me in the vehicle’s cockpit. First, the sloping roofline (which is very stylish, by the way) results in horrible rearward visibility; without the rear camera, it would be almost impossible to back up with this SUV.
The second problem regards the infotainment system, which is arguably the worst in the automotive industry in 2016. Not only is it counterintuitive to use, but it’s also ridiculously slow. I calculated a second-and-a-half delay between the moment I pressed a button and the moment when the command was acknowledged. And that’s when the system actually responded, as quite a few times, I would press a button to change menus and nothing would happen.
A success on (almost) all fronts
The Range Rover Evoque has been well received since its introduction, as 88,000 units were sold during its first year of production. Starting at $49,990 before adding freight and delivery charges, the invoice for an Evoque can rise rather quickly: our test model listed for more than $76K. At that price, we’re getting dangerously close to the Range Rover Sport, which is noticeably more luxurious and spacious.
Nevertheless, the Evoque impressed me. It can proudly wear the Land Rover badge, and those who are willing to deal with its shortcomings will get a vehicle that’s both modern and luxurious.