Looking at the Evoque, it is clear that this is a Range Rover like no other. This crossover SUV loses the traditional boxy dimensions and is wrapped instead in a sexy silhouette. Much of the LRX Concept styling that debuted in 2008 at the Detroit Motor Show has trickled over into the production vehicle and whilst it isn’t conventionally pretty, has the sort of sex appeal that captures attention from both men and women in equal measure. This was clearly evident from the way the Evoque elicits stares, finger pointing, and tongue wagging wherever it went. This compact SUV is the third model in the Range Rover line-up and sits, literally, as the baby of the fleet, under the massive Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models.
Simply put, the Evoque is a stunner. It was difficult not to have an eye-gasm – there are just so many aesthetic details. The first thing that you’d notice are the headlamps, especially with the DRLs turned on. There’s a mesh grille up front that flares into air-vents on the side, creating an aggressive line that tapers towards the rear. And then you notice the low, sloping roofline which looks fantastic and surprisingly does not disrupt practicality. The Evoque’s arse is gorgeous as well, especially the rear lights that look like blazing fireballs. Those matte-black 20-inch wheels on our test car are optional, and while very expensive, look phenomenal on the car.
Slip into the Evoque, and you’re greeted by a simplistic, well-designed, classy interior. The rotating gear knob that rises when you start the engine is taken from Jaguar and the large LCD that controls the in-car infotainment system is straightforward in execution. Upholstery is sufficiently plush, with sporty touches dashed across the cabin – mixing leather with brushed aluminum and high-grade plastics. Despite looking small, there’s actually plenty of space inside, with good headroom and legroom – even in the rear. There are some disadvantages to this unique styling; outward visibility for one. The thick side pillars and low roofline hampers vision. Cargo space is compromised as well; there’s enough for your day-to-day bits and bobs, a golf bag, and even a weekend getaway for two, but airport runs with several large suitcases is impossible. We also wished the rear seats could fold completely flat – that would have helped to free up a lot more space.
Power comes from a Ford sourced 2.0-litre turbo Ecoboost engine. The powerplant makes 240 horses and 340Nm of torque; sufficient for a Zerotohundred time of about 7.6 seconds. While it isn’t the quickest car off the line, you have to remember the Evoque is a pretty big car. There’s a small hint of turbo-lag, but once they kick in, there is more than enough poke and it becomes quite easy to hit illegal highway speeds. Fuel economy won’t impress, but we managed about 360km in a single tank of fuel, through a mix of highway and city driving and above average speeds. Power delivery is good and the engine sounds slightly raspy at full pelt; in truth, I was expecting the sort of silky refinement found in the bigger Range Rover models.
Driving the Evoque is a pretty straightforward affair – steering is quick, accurate, and delivers good feedback to your palms, although I do wish it had a bit more weight. Clearly, this was vehicle made for boulevard cruising: evident from the impressively supple ride that absorbed most surface imperfections with ease. It continues to impress as well in the handling department, cornering dynamically with the sort of agility you do not expect from a vehicle this size. The brakes look tiny behind the massive wheels but do a good job of hauling the Evoque to a stop with little fade. There is a bit of pedal travel before the brakes begin to bite which makes braking hard to modulate initially, but you soon get used to this.
For all its SUV credentials, we decided to test the car’s trail capability and headed for some dirt roads. Equipped with Land Rover’s Terrain Response System (TRS), the Evoque allows for driving on four different surface types including general, sand, mud, and snow with each mode toggling different gearing and steering calibrations. My first obstacle came in the form of a simple kerb and which posed no problem at all. From there on, the Evoque handled all ascent and descents we threw at it, steep or otherwise, with little abandon. Most owners are unlikely to test their Evoques the same way we have, but it was certainly refreshing for us to note that for once there was a crossover SUV that wasn’t just all show.
With the Evoque, Land Rover seems to have ticked all the right boxes. It is a well engineered, well built package that has been injected with several doses of luxury. You will most likely see it parked on paved tarmac than on dirt, but we’ve clearly proven the package is functional, so no one can call this a poseur’s toy. There are compromises of course – visibility, storage, as well as fuel economy, but these are not critical points. Our test car, the 5-door, 2.0-litre Petrol in Prestige trim has prices that start from RM360k, but is closer to RM390k as tested (and comes with roof rails, side steps, optional wheels). The price tag is hefty compared to its its competition (Audi Q3, BMW X3, Volvo SC60), but none have the luxury, usability, or looks anywhere near as good.
Verdict? We want one.