‘Practical’ is not a word to be used in the presence of the Range Rover Evoque. Listen for a snigger and you’ll hear it. Every cut or curve is there to impress, stun, mesmerize… not to be ‘useful’ in the traditional sense.
Yet, there is a great sense of character about this compact SUV. Evocative in design, few cars exude a character that can be unmistakably etched with a few brush strokes like Evoque’s – the classic Beetle or the Mini, or even the Lambo may be. This essential character is flaunted everywhere possible as well, including the spot of genius in placing it at the centre of a limelight – I am talking about the circular welcome light beneath the side mirrors that cast the silhouette of the car on the ground.
Already driving up the profits of Jaguar-Land Rover in the first half of 2012, the average demand for the Evoque is taking their balance sheet on a perpetual climb. As for now, in the JLR stables, another legend is born.
UPSIDE: Fiercely individualistic design, Plenty of fun, Agile and responsive engine, Rage Rover technologies like surround camera and terrain response, elegant cabin material
FLIPSIDE: Interrupted or narrow view, Not family friendly, Coupe headroom restrictive, Segment beating price
While 2.0L turbo might sound menial, the powerful engine lives up to the almost juvenile exuberance that the Evoque exudes. Compared with its older – and supposedly more mature – siblings, the Evoque frolics more with its torque upon start. The bursts could throw you many feet ahead with one touch of your foot – feels like a lot of fun and you’ll get used to it.
The dampers are good though but they tend to spring noisily when those 19” wheels roll over speed breakers. The steering is impressively accurate in curves and almost absurdly quick in response. The Evoque features the family’s multi-terrain response system for the wild journeys that get carried away.
A bundle of ironies, the Evoque is cute and compact just as it is burly and aggressive. The daring design is marked by the muscular folds unfurling around it – note the front wheel arches that flare up right up to the hood line and the central stretch of muscular prominence that runs all the way to the rear. Along with its crouching stance, they make the Evoque look and behave like an English bulldog – adorable and menacing at once!
The black honeycombed grille and the black wing strips with the sharply squinting eyes give its appearance ‘the bite’, complemented by the conspicuously design-heavy quad exhausts and low-flung fenders at the rear, again, in black gloss.
Nevertheless, its greatest strength – Design – is its root of contention as well. Like the side mirrors with its overwhelming presence or the narrow, restrictive windows! Those angular side-view mirrors are big and beautiful but they stand right in the viewing line. The sharply ascending waistline and the deeply seated sports seats don’t help with much of what’s around; not even with the blind spot and what lies further behind. Especially while taking a turn or backing up, I had to keep a third eye open for curbs or parking dividers.
Cabin and Controls
The cabin isn’t without the dramatics that please the quirky mind – like, the 26 blings around the two dials turn ruby red by sunset! Completing the sporty smart character is the red leather sumptuously worn by the seats and the black gloss that drapes the dash and the doors. The Meridien sound system gives DTS and PLII sound options as well. The cues from the Range Rover Sport are evident in the dash and the inclined console that houses easily navigable buttons, apart from the touch screen on top.
Quirkily enough, the Evoque has nothing to hold on to at the back – but then you might not complaint too often as the car has minimal body roll even during a freakishly fast descend via the interchange loop. But don’t give it sports car credits lest it turns over your expectations when pushed too hard!
In this compact SUV, individuality takes the front seat and everything else is thrown out the rear window that, by the way, doesn’t open! Thankfully, the panoramic glass roof lends the much-needed open feeling to the cabin, with its miserly share of glass.
The frame of the Evoque is its practical hazard as well. You’ll need the cervix of a giraffe to make contact with the outside world through those windows. And if too tall, you might crash through the roof!
Getting in and out of the back seat calls for effort but it’s nothing compared with the way our baby seat had to make a back door entry, with one of the 40-60 seats pushed down. Thankfully, the boot isn’t anything to fret about or harp on. The same goes for the rear legroom, sharing a familial trait of the Range Rover (prior to the 4th gen). But once you are in, the ride feels solid and comfortable for its size.
Overall, the aggressive side of the Evoque will be loved by men, and makes a bold statement for women drivers, who should be delighted by the light and responsive steering as well as features like the automatic tailgate and self-parking. The one really left complaining would be the toddlers. In the ISOFIX seats, their view will hardly get past the rising lines of the rear compartment.
The Essential Evoque
The Range Rover Evoque is not only fervently individualistic but is designed around the individual, too. Though it makes for a great carriage for companionship and fun among friends, it is not what you would call a family SUV. Instead, it is an adorable bit of self-indulgence that puts everything else in the back seat.
Drive Courtesy: Al Tayer Motors
Pictures: Sudeep Koshy