Range Rover Evoque SI4 5-Door: Glam Ranger

A highly stylized car-like compact premium SUV, the Range Rover Evoque is expected to expand the brand's appeal well beyond the celebrity Sloanes recruited to market this most radical of departures for Britain's upmarket off-roader.

A revolutionary departure for the prestige British SUV makers Land Rover and their Range Rover sub-brand, the Evoque is a highly stylized, futuristic and car-like compact SUV that promises to radically expand Range Rover’s brand appeal and total sales. A more accessibility priced vehicle with lower running costs than the traditional full-size Range Rover SUV and its slightly smaller Sport derivative, the Evoque is a fresh and striking design, utilizing Land Rover LR2 underpinnings and a re-branded Ford EcoBoost engine, which lives up Range Rover’s sophisticated, classy and high quality interior appointment and, within its segment, also stays true to the brand’s association with great off-road prowess.

With former popstar turned football WAG Victoria Beckham said to have been involved in the Evoque’s interior design and minor yet glamorous British Royal Zara Phillips serving as a brand ambassador, Range Rover have certainly pulled out all the stops to add an air of glamour to the Evoque. However, the new Gerry McGovern-designed baby Range Rover really doesn’t need the razzmatazz of celebrity endorsement and strikes a sophisticated, sharp and feisty figure in its own right. Promising to be to the classic Range Rover design and current full-size model what the BWM-era Mini is to the original British people’s car, the Evoue is a prestigious retro-infused and stylized vision of a futuristic Range Rover.

Uniquely styled, lean, athletic, highly evocative, the Range Rover Evoque is pretty much in a class of its own in terms of design, with the only other SUV so flamboyant and sporty being the larger Infiniti FX, with its deliciously baroque design interpretations. Using Range Rover’s familiar design themes and details, the Evoque cuts a hungrier and more predatory figure, with tall, upright cabin with a big glasshouse transforming into a wide body, high waistline and gradually narrowing glasshouse, while its grille gets a similar condensed treatment and aggressive furrowed brow. Wraparound headlights, perforated grille slats, huge air intakes, side ports, bulging wheel-arches, large stylish alloy wheels and a sloped roof and abruptly ending tailgate complete the Evoque’s athletically elegant and mischievously sinister demeanor.

With a chunky and contoured sports steering wheel, elegant rotary gear selector, supportive and comfortable sports seats good for carving corners or long motorway stretches, the Range Rover Evoque has a distinctly sporting and up-market ambiance that is reflected by its avant-garde interior design, layouts, ambient lighting and hunkered down seating. With stylish and cosseting interior with upscale technological amenities and creature comforts, the Evoque’s interior also features exceptional attention to detail, with even the boot-floor hooks being high quality brushed metal items, while interior fit, finish and noise isolation are all excellent. Comfortable and well-spaced inside for its compact crossover SUV segment, the Evoque’s use of high quality plastic textures, lush leathers, and metallic surfaces also sets it apart from the competition.

Despite its heavily raked roofline the Range rover Evoque rear headspace is pretty decent even for taller occupants, but where the Evoque suffers for its style is in terms of visibility. A low seating position for an SUV gives the Evoque a sporty and more engine feel through country lanes, however when combined with a high ascending waistline and descending roofline, as well as large side mirrors, thick raked A-Pillars and a high and wide bonnet, one needs to get accustomed to instinctively placing the Evoque in terms of width and distance from the kerb. Rear visibility is also somewhat restricted for reversing, but this is remedied with a rear-view camera.

Offered in two turbo-diesel and one petrol-powered range-topping Evoque SI4 version featured here, the baby Range Rover forgoes a large V6-engine in favour of a re-branded version of Ford’s sublime direct injection 2-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine. Tuned here for 240HP at 5500rpm and 251lb/ft torque at 1750rpm, the Evoque’s engine offers power, muscle along with reduced weight, fuel consumption and pollution levels. A highly responsive and versatile engine, the Evoque SI4’s turbo spools up quickly and seamlessly, with no noticeable lag, and offers excellent twisting force from low in the rev range and throughout the mid-range.

Muscular and responsive on-the-move, the Evoque SI4 spins quickly and happily through its rev range, and builds up urgently to its maximum power with an underlaying wave of torque. Offering swift performance, versatility and refinement, the Evoque SI4 features one of the greatest of a new generation of mid-size turbo engines, which sprints the 1670kg Evoque to 100km/h in just 7.6-seconds and on to a 217km/h top speed. With a fair level of noise suppression, the Evoques engine doesn’t sound intrusive, but retains a viscerally-satisfying presence under hard acceleration. With 8.7-litre per 100km combined fuel economy and 199g/km CO2 emissions, the sprightly Evoque SI4 is also easy on the wallet and environment compared with much of the competition.

Ostensibly operating as front-wheel-drive vehicle, with its Haldex four-wheel-drive system engaging as and when needed, the Range Rover Evoque drives like a curious but beguilingly successful combination of hot hatch and SUV. Benefitting from its EcoBoost engine’s light weight, firm springing and damping, a stiff unibody structure and sophisticated independent suspension, the Evoque delivers a sensational driving experience through snaking Welsh countryside and hilly lanes, happily carving corners with aplomb. With a keen turn-in owing to well-weighted and tuned steering the Evoque’s relatively compact size lends it and agile cornering quality, which is complemented by wide grippy tires and high grip levels owing to a large footprint with wheels pushed out to the corners.

With precise and responsive steering and reactions through sudden and sequential direction changes, the Range Rover Evoque is one of very few SUVs to offer an inspired and engaging handling experience, with tightly controlled weight shifts and body control. Leaning to the sporty side of the ride/handling equation, the standard Evoque SI4 without magnetic dampers treads a fine line that well-reins in body roll yet retains enough suppleness not to become tiring on long motorway jaunts or in town driving. A stable high speed cruiser thanks to is big footprint, the Evoque also benefits from excellent traction and a snappy and responsively shifting six-speed automatic gearbox, which in sequential mode makes short, clean and quick gear changes.

With a lower ground clearance, no ride height adjustment, narrower approach and departure angles, and no lacking locking differentials and low gear ratios, the Range Rover Evoque obviously cannot match its full-size sister for off-road prowess. However what it can do is more than what almost all of its potential customers could ever require, and is perhaps the best in its class off-road. Driven through grassy and muddy Welsh countryside with inclines and descents, the Evoque managed brilliantly using its multi-terrain and hill descent electronic off-road driver aids, which basically utilize and adapt the vehicles traction control, ABS and cruise control to effectively ensure off-road traction and progress. A 500mm water fording depth also came in handy in rutted and flooded abandoned tunnels beneath Liverpool.

Range Rover Evoque SI4 (5-door 4WD)

  • Engine: 2-litre, turbo-charged, transverse 4-cylinders
  • Bore x stroke: 87.5 x 83.1mm
  • Compression ratio: 10:1
  • Valve-train: 16-valve, DOHC, direct fuel injection
  • Gearbox: 6-speed automatic, permanent four-wheel-drive
  • Power, HP (kW): 240 (177) @ 5,500rpm
  • Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 251 (340) @ 1,750rpm
  • 0-100 km/h: 7.6-seconds
  • Top speed: 217km/h
  • Fuel capacity: 70 litres
  • Fuel economy, urban / extra-urban / combined: 11.9- / 6.9- / 8.7-litres/100km
  • Maximum range: 805km
  • Combined CO2 emissions: 199g/km
  • Length: 4,365mm
  • Width: 1,965mm
  • Height: 1,635mm
  • Wheelbase: 2,660mm
  • Aerodynamic drag coefficient: 0.35
  • Weight: 1,670kg
  • Steering: Electric power assistance, rack and pinion
  • Turning radius: 11.3-meters
  • Brakes, front / rear: Ventilated discs, 300mm / discs, 302mm
  • Suspension, F: MacPherson struts, lower control arms, anti-roll bar
  • Suspension, R: Strut, lateral and longitudinal links, anti-roll bar
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