The Smug pulls into John Patrick Prestige Cars, Port Macquarie, to get behind the wheel of the stunning Range Rover Evoque 2.0 L Auto …
When I picture a Range Rover in its natural environment, I have visions of a boxy high roofed and rigid-mobile driving through the English countryside on a damp and dirt pebbly road … maybe even throw in a man in a plaid jacket puffing away on a woody old pipe and a few Corgis frolicking in the paddock, to set the scene.
Contrary to my expectations and upon setting eyes on the Evoque, this Range Rover is relatively compact, new-age looking and certainly didn’t fit with my pre-conceived vision. One could be excused for asking whether it is a four wheel drive at all. It certainly looks like it’s built for the city streets and not the English countryside I had pictured, let alone a sand dune, the snow covered alps, or a muddy bush trail.
The sleek yet punchy design really gets you asking some questions. Upon closer inspection, it has all the mod-cons you would expect to find in a vehicle well into the prestige car category, yet it’s a serious contender off the beaten track.
When I first sat in the vehicle, my first impression was a little difficult to try to explain in words. Metaphorically speaking, it felt like I, as the driver, was an egg … gently enclosed in a soft, leather bound egg carton. I had a feeling of comfort, safety, and a real sense of security. Add in the new car smell and the pleasure of sitting on a really comfy and stylish leather lounge, and you’re starting to get the feeling.
The on-board ‘command centre’, as I aptly name it – that being the steering wheel and dashboard knobs and dials, are certainly state-of-the-art.
Apart from what looked like a 42” LCD screen in the middle of the dash (maybe overdoing it there, but it’s big) my eyes were drawn to the gear dial. Yes … a gear dial! Picture your home stereo system and that large black dial you turn to adjust the sound volume, and now picture it with the letters P, R, D, N and S, instead of the plus and minus volume symbols. Clearly, the gear changing is unbelievably easy.
Once I finally found the button that was the electric parking brake, I released it, pushed the ‘start’ button to start the engine, turned the gear dial to ‘D’, and I took to the streets.
The design team at Range Rover have really focused on ensuring the driver feels like they’re in total control. They’ve introduced the ‘Sports Command Driving System’, which basically means they’ve lowered the driver’s seats, and the displays and dials are easily accessible to the hands and are within easy eyeshot. The interior feels like you’re literally being ‘hugged’ into place, and everything is at your fingertips or only a glance away.
Wanting to test the four wheel drive capabilities close to home, it only took me about ninety seconds to find myself a pothole ridden road to test the suspension and handling. The Evoque levelled out the bumps and really took control of the conditions with relative ease; I could only imagine what it would be like out in the wild. With the demo model I was driving being in mint condition and pegged for sale – I reluctantly stuck to the streets with this one.
Through the corners on a somewhat damp and greasy road surface, I never felt the vehicle stray from its line or level, and the Evoque had plenty of grunt to get up to speed when pulling out onto the highway.
The Range Rover Evoque stacks up exceptionally well in the weight stakes, with its base model weighing in at an outstanding effort of merely 1595 kg.
The use of lightweight materials such as aluminium and magnesium and a raft of environmentally sensitive composite materials feature heavily in this vehicle. I did question how safe lightweight and composite materials would stack up in a decent mishap, though. Upon scanning the specifications book, the Evoque has an impressive tally of safety features and airbags and also has plenty of information to allay any fears I had in the strength and durability aspect – it’s like a rocket ship on wheels.
On the subject of specifications, this beast’s specs book that – mind you – comprises some seventy pages in total, has more than twenty pages of optional extras to choose from. The buyer can decide on multi-colour combinations for the interior as well as the exterior. Added to this is a range of brushed metal, aluminium and wood-grain textures, to design your own unique blend.
A feature option that caught my imagination is the full-length glass roof … great for one of those clear nights reclining back in the seats, staring into the stars at that quiet and secret spot you (allegedly) frequent with the Mrs after dinner and a movie on date night.
Range Rover have gone to quite some effort to put forward this offering as a serious off road contender, but have also built it to navigate the city streets with prestige and style. The brochures suggest the Evoque is a ‘quantum leap’ in the evolution of Range Rover. For mine, I can confirm that this is certainly an exciting vehicle to experience.
On price, and in a nutshell, the Range Rover Evoque can be as cost effective or luxuriously priced as you prefer. It all comes down to how you ‘dress it up’ with all the optional extras.
This story was published in issue 81 of the Greater Port Macquarie Focus