Whenever someone says the words 'Range Rover', images of a go-anywhere luxury 4x4 immediately pops in our mind. Big, brutish and unapologetically British, the Range Rover is undoubtedly rooted in off-road and in opulence.
But what if you wanted a smaller Range Rover without the headaches of a big 4x4? Enter the Range Rover Evoque. Essentially the smallest of the Range Rover lineup, the Evoque serves as your first step in owning a Land Rover.
Measuring 4371mm long, 1900mm wide, 1635mm tall, along with a 2660mm wheelbase, the Evoque is aimed squarely against the likes of the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Lexus NX and Mercedes-Benz GLA. With more and more car buyers shifting to crossovers and SUVs, the Range Rover Evoque is right in the thick of the lucrative premium compact crossover war.
But is the Range Rover Evoque all show and no-go? Did Land Rover cannibalize the Range Rover's name just so they can say they have a small premium crossover fighter? How does it live up to the original Range Rover?
Let's start with the most obvious and most eye-catching trait of the Range Rover Evoque: its looks. Sleek, modern and sexy, these are only a few words that can describe Land Rover's smallest offering. While it's not as butch as its stablemates, the Evoque is still a looker in its own right. Combining sharp aesthetics, organic shapes, pronounced character lines and a sloping roof line, the Evoque exudes boldness and confidence.
The striking front fascia bears the brand's signature grill design along with distinct LED headlights. Meanwhile, flared wheel arches, along with massive 19-inch alloy wheels highlight the Evoque's go-anywhere pedigree. Giving the Evoque a sense of sophistication comes courtesy of a floating roof design and an indistinguishable rear end. Like the headlights, the U-shaped taillights are of the LED variety and are clearly visible day or night. To top it all off, the Evoque comes with front and rear foglights, a tailgate-mounted spoiler and dual exhausts.
Some might say the Evoque resembles the Discovery Sport a bit too much. But do remember that the former came out first (back in 2011) while the latter was only launched in late 2014. Despite having similar aesthetics, the Evoque is strictly a five-seater SUV while the slightly longer Discovery Sport is capable of seating seven.
Overall, the Evoque's clear-cut styling departs from Land Rover's usual boxy design in favor of a more streamlined finish. Sure, purists might say its design is not as faithful to the original, but frankly I like how they made the Range Rover's signature look work on the smaller, more practical Evoque.
Open the doors and the smell of Windsor leather invites you inside. All of the seats are upholstered in the fine quality hide which were supple to the touch. Meanwhile, the center console, dashboard and door cards are lined with soft padding and high quality materials. But perhaps my most favorite part of the interior is the brushed metal trim on the dashboard which serves as a stark contrast against the myriad of gloss black trim pieces. In an age where faux wood and shiny plastic trim are now prevalent, seeing real wood and metal fixtures inside an automobile is refreshing.
Both the front seats were comfortable and had plenty of shoulder, side and lumbar support. Moreover, both the driver and front passenger seats are power adjustable and have memory settings for three. But it is perhaps in the rear seats where I felt the most comfortable. Thanks to the heavily bolstered backrests, sitting at the back of the Evoque felt like you were in a cocoon; safe, secure and cozy. You even get a center armrest with integrated cupholders for added comfort. Fold that up, however, and you have seating for three. There is generous legroom and headroom for all. However, anyone towering over 5'9 may find themselves hitting the ceiling of the Evoque.
Placed at the center of the dash is a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment dubbed 'TouchPro'. Sleek, fast and intuitive to use, the system was ergonomic and easy-to-get familiar with despite not having any sort of physical buttons (save for the volume knob / on and off button). It even has an onboard navigation system which is always a nice addition. Beyond that, the system supports AM/FM radio, Aux, Bluetooth and USB as such. It even has video playback, climate control features, as well as park assist which can automatically park the car for you. Did I mention TouchPro also has one of the most crisp graphics I've seen on an infotainment system?
Also delivering crisp audio inside the Evoque is the 16-speaker 825W Meridian sound system which comes as standard on the HSE.
Sitting below the touchscreen display are a multitude of buttons that manage the dual-zone automatic climate control and a rotary style gear selector for the automatic transmission. While I much prefer a traditional T-shaped gear shifter, the rotary knob fits with the Evoque's futuristic design. In fact, I actually grew to like it thaks to its ease of use.
Pop the hood and a 2.0-liter turbo-diesel inline-four makes its home in the HSE Evoque. Part of Land Rover's Ingenium family of engines, the all-aluminum plant generates 180 PS at 4000 rpm along with a healthy 430 Nm of torque at 1750 rpm. Power is then sent to all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission that comes with paddle shifters.
Off the line, there was smooth power delivery from the turbo-diesel powerplant. It was so smooth that I actually mistook it for being a turbocharged gasoline engine. A slight prod of the throttle was all that was needed to motivate the Evoque. With nine gears to play with, the powertrain did an excellent job of keeping the revs low while strolling around town.
Put your foot to the floor however, and gobs of power are immediately sent to to the road. Despite having less than 200 PS and packing 450 Nm of torque, it felt like the engine had more to give thanks to generous amounts of pulling power. Set the transmission to 'S' (Sport Mode) and the revs become sharper and linger longer at the powerband.
As for fuel economy, the all-wheel drive Evoque proved itself quite efficient in both city and highway driving. Driving leisurely around town, the Evoque was able to return a respectable 8.3 – 9.0 km/l which was pretty good. On the highway, it was able to average around 14.0 – 15.0 km/l; again impressive figures. It was able to do this thanks to an active driveline which essentially disconnects drive to the rear wheels should it not be needed. It will only reconnect when the system senses the Evoque going off-road or under heavy accleration for added grip.
Ride quality on Range Rover Evoque was fine, if a little bit firm. It went over smooth asphalt and along concrete roads with ease thanks to the finely-tuned dampers. The ride only got a little bouncy when the Evoque went over bumpy roads and pock-marked streets. This could be due to the massive 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 235/55-series Continental CrossContact tires. All in all, I liked the Evoque's firm yet forgiving ride.
On the flipside, the slightly taut ride meant the Evoque handled itself well in the corners. Turn the wheel in and the Evoque follows through with no delay. Yes there was some body roll, but frankly driving this tiny Range Rover felt like driving a slightly taller hatchback than a small crossover. The wide wheels also aided in maximizing grip in both on- and off-road conditions. The electronic power steering (EPS) did its job well of being light in city driving and being slightly heavy while on the highway. I just wish, however, that the EPS delivered more feedback as it felt numb most of the time.
Should one feel the need to go off the beaten path, the Range Rover Evoque will oblige thanks to a smart all-wheel drive system called Terrain Response. It has four selectable modes to choose from: General Driving, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Ruts, and Sand. Just choose the mode that the terrain demands and the car will do the rest. I wasn't able to test the system myself, but the mere fact the Evoque comes with it gave me peace of mind anywhere I go. It even has hill-start assist and hill-descent control which proved useful especially when facing steep inclines.
If you're looking for luggage space, the Evoque has plenty. By my estimate, the tiny Evoque can swallow a weekend's worth of bags and still have enough space for other stuff. Take out the luggage cover and you can even store pieces of small furniture or appliances with ease. Need to carry loose items? Not to worry as it has plenty of baggage hooks that can secure fragile items while on the go.
With a sticker price of Php 4,990,000, the Range Rover Evoque in HSE trim is your gateway to the Land Rover experience. While it's not exactly 'the' Range Rover, think of the Evoque as a pint-sized version of the original. Sure it lacks some of the finer amenities and added tech of it's bigger brothers, but with all-wheel drive, plenty of in-car essentials and a potent powertrain at its disposal, the Evoque is still a Range Rover through and through, albeit downsized.
If you find the other Range Rover models too big or too posh and you don't have any plans on getting a Discovery or Discovery Sport, the Evoque is your ticket to going off the beaten path, as well as enjoying urban getaways. Its compact size and relatively small footprint meant it could go anywhere it pleases while still delivering a relatively comfortable ride. And even though it's the most affordable Range Rover available to date, Land Rover did not skimp on the features and safety tech for the Evoque.
Besides having the previously mentioned hill-start assist, hill-descent control and reverse camera with 360-degree around-view monitor, the Evoque also comes with the following: blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, torque vectoring and lane-keep assist with driver condition monitoring. It also has six airbags in total to ensure the occupants are safe from harm.
If you're in the market for a small family crossover that can take you virtually anywhere, make sure to have the Range Rove Evoque in your list.