The beautiful shadow
I love the Range Rover Evoque and I’m sure you do too. If you weren’t a fan, you wouldn’t be reading this anyway. The favourite slander this poor vehicle endures is for its outlandish looks and usually culminates in utterances to the tune of “looks like a baby elephant sat on it!”
Have you ever heard such horse manure in your life? For starters, an infant pachyderm isn’t even half the size of a fully-grown Evoque and secondly, I’ve never seen one take a seat on a Landy. Ever. What they probably mean is that this car’s window line rises so sharply that it gives the impression of being squashed out back.
Available with four or two doors, the latter coupé models heighten this sensation even further because their roof is actually 3cm lower. Combined with its pointy face, gigantic wheels, futuristic light clusters, brash air vents and THAT interior, it’s easy to see why the Evoque has gushing fans or recoiling critics.
That interior. I honestly couldn’t care a frosty Friday if Spicy Beckman or the Queen helped to design it; whoever was part of the team can be proud of their work. Snazzy shapes and trendy textures are moulded into one of the automotive world’s most modern and interesting interiors.
Other Land-Rover products follow this template but it’s the author’s humble opinion that an Evoque has the most distinctive cabin of them all. The four-door car (as tested here) has almost identical innards to its two-door sibling and happily they are available in a multitude of leather colour combinations.
To give it its full name, our test car was an Indus Silver Range Rover Evoque (4-door) SD4 Pure with Cirrus / Lunar grey leather interior. Based on the more humble but very capable Land-Rover Freelander platform, Evoque is available with a choice of turbo-petrol (Si4) or – as in this case – turbo-diesel (SD4) engine.
…this “Pure” line is the cheapest…
Drive is to all four wheels via Land-Rover’s clever Terrain Response full-time 4×4 system and an 8-speed automatic gearbox. The Evoque range is available in three distinctive trim levels of which this “Pure” line is the cheapest, uhh, most affordable starting at N$628,100. Is that such a bad thing though?
I don’t think so. The main reasons you’re saving between N$101,800 and N$144,600 are the absence of satellite navigation, electric front seat adjustments, Xenon lights, luxury mats, extra colours and more decadent trim. A hundred grand! For more buttons and some fluffy carpets?
Seriously though, while the more posh versions are desirable it will take a real expert to tell this Pure model apart. Its halogen headlights (which are very good) and their big LED daytime reflectors might be a huge giveaway but for an extra N$11,900 to N$15,500 you’ll have the same Xenons as other Evoques.
Electricity to adjust your chair? About N$10,000. Rear camera? Yours for N$4,800. Add a few more grand to have the car park itself. Navigation is a bit pricey at N$24,200 and so is rear entertainment for N$44,100 but the only thing you’ll really need is that reverse camera in the car’s elevated bum; unless you enjoy parking by ear.
The entry-level Evoque is a great car because it retains those looks and lots of features like a 380 Watt Meridian sound system with 10 speakers and subwoofer, Bluetooth and multiple media inputs. Airbags, hill descent control, keyless access and start, climate control, touch screen, cruise control, they’re all here.
The 2,179cc, 140kW, 420Nm turbo-diesel hits 100km/h in 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 195km/h while those eight gears ensure that you always have enough power in reserve. Land-Rover claims a combined average of 6.3L/100km from the 58L tank and our real-world average came close at just over seven.
Ride comfort is firm but comfortable, handling and steering feel are superb for an SUV although one driver noted that throttle response and first gear upshifts were a tad harsh. Our test car made light work of farm tracks and a few slippery hills which confirms that the Evoque is not just a pretty face.
Should you go off-road in this car, I strongly recommend avoiding low-profile tyres or at least treating them as the weakest link. 500mm wading depth, 215mm ground clearance, 25° approach and 33° departure angles will do the rest. Evoques can also tow between 750 and 1,800kg or load 575 to 1,445L of cargo.
What this means is that any critics – if they’re somehow still reading this – will be bitterly disappointed. Even the entry-level Evoque is an impressive machine. And if you’re thinking of buying one – be it only to show off – you’ll be piloting a fantastic car that can do much more than cast a beautiful shadow.