Proud. Patriotic. Prestigious. Words that can be used to describe the manufacturer, Land Rover.
Up until now the Chelsea set were the accused to be seen in these gas guzzling beasts, but all that is about to change with the marque’s latest offering, the eagerly anticipated Range Rover Evoque.
Of late, their cars have started to look decidedly dated. By all means when you jump inside they still have that special feeling of pure class, but the exterior has needed bringing upto date.
Launches for new cars are usually in far flung European destinations, but staying true to their heritage North West England and Wales were going to provide the spectacular backdrop to the SUV. How apt that, driven by many of the protection guards to the royals, the first time I saw the car was at RAF Valley in Anglesey where Prince William is based.
Arguably it may have hints of the Freelander about it, but the Evoque is a complete newbie to the stable and is Range Rover’s entirely new model for 40 years.
Available as a five-door and as a Coupé each variant is available in three trim levels - Pure, Prestige and Dynamic. With it’s high wheel arches, futuristic exterior styling and windows that look smaller than you would see on an army tank, the car was designed to turn heads. Add its cat’s eye headlights glaring at anything on the road infront and this beast would have a rioter running for cover.
You think of a 4 x 4 and high fuel consumption comes to mind. But their one petrol and two engine choices have the lowest economy of any Range Rover to date. The diesels will average 44.1mpg and the petrol 32.4mpg. The two-wheel-drive eD4 model, which will be available in early 2012 will be capable of 58mpg.
The 2.2-litre turbo diesels are the 148bhp TD4 and the 187bhp SD4. These are available with a six-speed manual gearbox, but the SD4 also has a six-speed auto with paddle shifts. The turbocharged petrol engine is a 237bhp two-litre which comes as an automatic. Of the ones we tried the petrol seemed quite noisy as though it was working too hard, so the diesels seem the best option to go for.
First stop was to try it out in proper 4 x 4 mode, which is what these cars are really made for. Over two days, like 700 other media types invited to this prestigious launch over four weeks, we were treated to the thrills and spills of seeing exactly what the Evoque was born to do.
The car handles really well and testing it to the limit on mountainous terrain in Snowdonia to water filled tunnels in Liverpool and the Evoque definitely lives upto it’s 4 x 4 status. It even has a wading depth of 500mm, so although it looked like the car would end up drifting away in the tests we were subjecting it to, it took to it like a duck to water, giving the Thames car-boat a run for its money.
This is all managed by the Terrain Response system. Any changes in road surface and the suspension and handling adapts accordingly, even the more trickier ones like sand and snow. With each mode the interior lighting changes to turn your Evoque into Blackpool illuminations.
The Evoque oozes luxury and comfort with its premium leather upholstery. The floating centre console, which looks remarkably similar to the Volvo is kept minimal and has a high-definition eight-inch touchscreen.
This has dual vision, so any silence caused by any arguments as to who drives it, the driver can be finding their way looking at the satnav, while the passenger can be watching the television with headset provided of course. Clever.
The rotary gearshift in the automatics is a round button that according to the manufacturer spec notes, jumps up to give the driver a ‘handshake’. Gimmicky, but looks the part. Visibility is good considering how small the windows are and added extra light comes in from the panoramic roof.
Five people can fit comfortably in the car and a fellow journalist at over 6ft found no problems sitting in the back comfortably whatsoever.
Prices start at £27,995 with the coupe coming in at £28,950 and interest has been huge from the world’s press and potential buyers. If James Bond ever thought a 4 x 4 would be more practical than his Aston Martin, then the Evoque would be his weapon of choice. With 20,000 forward orders from consumers that haven’t even seen or driven it, you could say that the Evoque is likely to achieve cult status in a very short space of time.