If there’s anything that history has taught us about the British, it is that they are proud of a couple of things. There’s the Queen, tea, cricket and ofcourse - Land Rover. The Land Rover brand has seen a lot of ups and down, changed a lot of owners and received a lot of bouquets and brickbats over the years. Well, that is what happens when you are in business for close to half a decade. Land Rover has embodied the absolute definition of a go-anywhere, do-anything vehicle with the legendary Defender and Discovery series. The original Land Rovers were built around the utilitarian philosophy more than anything else. Circa 1970, the Range Rover was showcased to the world. While It wasn’t a big departure from the parent brand - it was ‘just a big Land Rover’.
Decades upon decades have passed and the Range Rover moniker, today, no longer lurks in the shadow of Land Rover’s heritage. Range Rover is a luxury offshoot of the British brand and wants to take you off-road - in style, that is. Jaguar Land Rover, was acquired by the Tata Group in 2008, taking the reigns over from Ford. Tata managed to make the books of JLR show green instead of red, and now - JLR contributes significantly to Tata Motors’ revenue. Talk about making a comeback! However, having only gas guzzling big SUVs in their portfolio, meant that the brand drew a lot of flak from the environmentalists. The Supercharged V8s or the Diesel V6s weren’t exactly Polar Bear friendly.The Range Rover Evoque as we know it today, stems from the LRX concept showcased back in 2010. The Evoque can be termed tiny by Range Rover standards, but, what this also meant is that the vehicle had a smaller footprint. Out went the guzzling V6 and in came a rather tame 4 cylinder engine.
Rather ironic - what started off as a bigger alternative to a Land Rover was looking at producing smaller cars, to cater to the mass market.
The late half of 2015, witnessed the launch of the “Make in India” campaign by our Hon’ble Prime Minister. Now, how could an Indian owned entity not make in India? Jaguar was already producing its flagship saloon - the XJ and the XF sedan locally. It was time for the baby Rangie to be Made in India. With the update, the Evoque isn’t as expensive as before. It is virtually indifferentiable on the outside, but gets one major change underneath the swooping silhouette. Read on..
What’s new on the outside? Apparently nothing. If you stare at the car long enough, you’ll realize it wears new alloy wheels and gets a panoramic sunroof as well. Other than that, the Evoque retains it’s neck-snapping design. It doesn’t really need any introduction, really. The face bears the twin slat trademark Range Rover grille. The Land Rover insignia sits off-center, and you get R A N G E R O V E R written right above the grille - in case anyone would miss what car just whizzed past them. The DRLs on the sleek headlamps look ever so classy, especially in the dark. They lend the Evoque a pair of eyes and much needed character. The foglamps sit snug in a horizontal recess on either side of the airdam.The lower portion of the bumper gets some black cladding with a faux silver skidplate to cement the SUV lineage of the Evoque.
Over to the side, you notice two distinct lines. One - that of the roof, sloping towards the tail. Two - that along the waist, sloping upwards towards the tail-lamps. These two lines are all that the design of the Evoque is based on. The clamshell hood, flared wheel arches and those massive 18 inch rims finish off the silhouette.
The rear is rather simplistic compared to the rest of the car, but you do get those wrap-around tail-lamps that look gorgeous when lit up. The blacked out surrounds of the rear windshield lend the Evoque a nice floating roof effect.
The Evoque does make quite a bold style statement. Designed with inputs from Mrs. Beckham, the Evoque is as ‘Posh’ as it can get. It turns heads like no other car in this bracket. Your receding hair-line, bulging belly and general lack of dress sense will be willfully ignored by the fairer sex in case you decide to show up in one of these.
The centre console houses everything you need to be comfortable and be entertained. The neatness with which everything has been arranged is commendable. The centre console flows in beautifully into the central armrest and accommodates the screen, climate control buttons and the rotary gear selector while doing so. I’d like to point out that there’s no ungainly crevice or sharp edge, anywhere on the dashboard of the Range Rover. The attention to detail is so fanatical, that you’ll find the USB and the AUX input tucked away inside the armrest.
At the heart of the centre console sits an eight inch touchscreen that is flanked by a lot of buttons on either side. The touchscreen is amongst the best we’ve used in any car and is easy to use on the move. It serves as the interface for the music as well as the Park Assist. What the screen also helps out with, is the Surround Camera System. The Evoque comes equipped with 5 cameras. One on the tail-gate, two on either wing mirrors and two on the front bumper. You can select which multiple views whilst driving the Evoque to get a live video feed. The driver gets a host of option of views to choose from, including junction view and kerb view. You won’t scratch those flared wheel arches thanks to this. Another party trick of the screen is the 4x4i option, which works in tandem with the Terrain Response system. What it essentially does is, tell you the status of the differential and how much power is being vectored to which wheel.It will also show you exactly where your wheels are pointed towards. Pretty cool, if you ask me.
Our test car came equipped with the 380 Watt Meridian Sound System. It has 11 speakers, subwoofer included, tucked away around the car. If I had to sum up the aural experience in a word, it’d be ‘exquisite’. It is easily one of the best sounding systems in this segment. No two ways about it. The test car was also equipped with tv screens for the rear-seat passengers as well.
Once you are done fidgeting around with the gizmos on offer, you soon realize how relaxed you’ve been while doing so. The front seats have perfect amount of side-bolstering and lower-back support and not to mention cushioning, to keep you cocooned in comfort. The only fly in the ointment, has to be the headrest. It is a bit too hard, because of the mounted TV Screens - and uncomfortable, if I may add. Apart from that, the seats can be adjusted in virtually every imaginable way. It won’t take you a lot of time to find that perfect driving position. And so that it stays that way, the Evoque gets Memory Seats as well. The seats automatically lower themselves when you switch the car off and set themselves back in position when you switch it on. A nifty touch, that definitely aids ingress and egress.
The driver is greeted by a large steering wheel which now get paddle shifters tucked behind them. The leather wrapped unit is a delightful to hold and equally well weighted to tuck the Evoque into bends as well. The instrument cluster is typically Range Rover - two large pods housing the speedometer and the tachometer respectively. There’s a MID located in the centre which gives out a host of information like the fuel level, current gear, fuel economy etc.
The Evoque doesn’t look particularly big on the outside, the space in the rear bench comes as a pleasant surprise. If you plan on being chauffeur driven, the Evoque has just about adequate space for you to stretch your legs. And you can ferry a colleague as well. Only A colleague sadly, because the Evoque is best used as a four seater. The cabin isn’t particularly wide to accommodate 3 abreast at the rear bench. Headroom can be a very slight constraint if you’re amongst the taller folk, thanks to the sloping roof. Because of the rising waistline, the glasshouse at the rear is small as well. It does make you feel slightly claustrophobic and trapped. The only solution to this is to take the blinds off the panoramic sunroof. Then you have acres of sky at your disposal.
While you can personalize the interiors to suit your tastes, you will get a lot of neat, expensive looking leather, aluminium or wood veneer trims and mood lighting as well. We had a rather subtle beige and aluminium combo on our test car and it did look classy. The beige also managed to make the cabin feel roomier than it actually is. A combo like black leather coupled with the aluminium trims will make it look cramped, but not cluttered. And this is where the design of the Evoque shines. Throw in the colors or the trims you can imagine, and it’ll still manage to look clean and sophisticated effortlessly. The Evoque’s interiors is possibly one of the best to be in, thanks to the minimalistic approach.
The Evoque is one of those cars you don’t really feel like pushing a lot. You tend to indulgence in the opulence and savour it part-by-part, little-by-little. Much like a slab of dark chocolate - you know you can hog the entire thing in one go, but you decide to be prudent. The Evoque rides flat, be it at 50km/h or 150km/h. The suspension is a nice balance between fun and comfort, tuned slightly towards keeping you comfortable - making it livable with on a daily basis. It goes over potholes - even the extremely bad ones, if I may add - with so much as a muted thud. This isn’t attributed to the suspension alone, but also the noise deadening / insulation around the car. When cruising comfortably, the Evoque rarely sputters. You won’t hear the engine, nor the exhaust - letting you soak in the fact that you are driving a Range Rover, in relative peace.
The steering is surprisingly light. It really takes the sting out of maneuvering the Evoque in city traffic. It does weigh up beautifully when you hit the motorways. Cornering at triple digit speeds is fuss free and there’s barely any body roll. We had a lot of fun belting the Evoque around the ghat sections of the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, the torque on tap is addictive and the 9-Speed ZF gearbox does not hesitate to downshift a couple of gears if you floor the throttle. And that is exactly what the ZF-gearbox needs from the driver to be enjoyable - decisive input. In city traffic, more often than not, you’d be feathering the throttle to make the car crawl from traffic light to traffic light. The ‘box is properly confused while you’re doing this and it sometimes upshifts a bit too quickly and with a slight jerk. The gearbox is tuned for efficiency and it will upshift at every possible opportunity it gets. It becomes particularly annoying over inclines where the car tends to upshift, then realizes it’s in too high a gear - and downshifts again!
The Evoque’s 2.2 litre, SD4 engine isn’t as much of a cracker as you’d expect it to be. The power figures are respectable at 190PS and 420Nm and is enough to propel it to 100 in 8.5 seconds. Like mentioned earlier, it is more than happy cantering around at city speeds - it won’t make you feel it’s presence. However, when you do decide to get on with things, the engine gets extremely vocal. There is a hint of turbo lag as well and it will pick up only past 1500rpm. When you do floor it, the sound isn’t pleasant. Well, it’s a 4 cylinder diesel and you shouldn’t really be expecting it to sing symphonies, but nonetheless - that sound, nay noise does take away a lot from the driving experience. The sound aside, the engine doesn’t feel shortchanged at any point of time.
And it is at reasonable ease where the roads end as well. We put it through slush, muck and grass and it did not even bat an eyelid. Yes, you have to be careful not to scratch or scrape the bodywork considering it isn’t meant to be a off-roader. The Terrain Response system helps greatly in attacking no-road scenarios. You simply tell the car what you see out of your window and it does the rest for you. The Terrain Response gets the following modes: General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud & Ruts and Sand. .
The Evoque isn’t meant to be a speedboat, it is more of a personal luxury yacht. Prancing around sedately is what it does best. It isn’t a driver’s machine either. An equivalent BMW will be much more engaging and needless to mention fun to drive. If commuting in style is your thing, the Evoque gets the job done like no other.
The baby Rangie is a triumph of form over function. You do get the feeling that the design of the car was given more importance than anything else. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It looks like a million bucks, both inside and out. It is a properly comfortable place to be in on the move and it will keep you entertained while it does so. Also, it does stay true to it’s Land Rover heritage by not blinking an eyelid when you take it off-road. But realistically, there’s a very tiny percentage of probable Evoque owners who would even attempt to take this piece of expensive machinery beyond the shoulder line of the road.
I firmly believe that cars reflect personalities. For example, if you own a WagonR, chances are you prefer something that gets the job done without breaking the bank. Moving to the other end of the spectrum, if you drive, say, a Mercedes S-Class - you’re probably someone who appreciates the finer details.. The Range Rover Evoque? Well, it falls somewhere in between the self-made young billionaire and someone who’s going through a midlife crisis.
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