First look

CultureMap auto preview: The new Range Rover Evoque


News_LandRover_Evoque_August2011
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_LandRover_Evoque_August2011
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_LandRover_Evoque_August2011
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_LandRover_Evoque_August2011
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_LandRover_Evoque_August2011
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_LandRover_Evoque_August2011
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_LandRover_Evoque_August2011
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_LandRover_Evoque_August2011
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_LandRover_Evoque_August2011
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_LandRover_Evoque_August2011
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_LandRover_Evoque_August2011
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_LandRover_Evoque_August2011
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_LandRover_Evoque_August2011
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_LandRover_Evoque_August2011
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_LandRover_Evoque_August2011
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_LandRover_Evoque_August2011
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_LandRover_Evoque_August2011
Photo by Kevin McCauley
News_LandRover_Evoque_August2011
Photo by Kevin McCauley

Land Rover is not afraid of offending the purists. It can't be. Times are changing, the fabled British car manufacturer is changing, and so are emission requirements and consumers’ buying habits. Consumers are buying "crossovers" en masse — SUVs with more car-like handling and fuel economy — and it's no longer feasible for a carmaker to offer only grand, full-size off-roaders.

With the new Range Rover Evoque, Land Rover will upset some of the Land Rover traditionalists. This vehicle is not for them. This is a new kind of Land Rover, one that has all-terrain capability should the need arise but is designed for the road.

Land Rover’s evocative (notice that?) Range Rover nameplate is a four-decades old institution known for off-road and luxury vehicles. The company is known worldwide for innovative technology, premium appeal and (quite literally) timeless style. But officials started wondering: Why does a Range Rover have to be a full-size SUV? What if the features and the look associated with Range Rover came in a smaller, sportier package? We wondered the same thing.

The first thing you notice is that the size of the Range Rover has been toned down, but not the look. It would have been easy to make a watered-down “baby Range Rover,” but, in fact, Land Rover has made an aggressive, rakish, concept car of a thing. It looks unlike any other vehicle on the market. 

 

The Evoque takes some of the traditional Range Rover cues, such as the raked roofline, clamshell hood, purposeful horizontal lines, boxy front and rear lighting. Then designers pinched and pulled it tight, stretching the horizontal character lines to give it a wedge-like stance. They pushed the wheels out to the very corners to minimize the overhangs. The wheel arches blister out massively, and the headlights and taillights are styled into tiny, angular slivers. It looks angry.

The Range Rover Evoque is available in Coupe and four-door configurations. The length is the same on both, and actually they look nearly identical, even side-by-side. 

The Evoque looks like a concept car because it is one. It began as the LRX Concept first shown at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, and is now making its way to production mercifully unaltered. 

Every Evoque sold in the U.S. comes equipped with a 2.0 liter turbocharged gas engine-producing 240-horsepower. This is enough to move the roughly 3,700-lb. vehicle quickly. According to government mileage figures, it gets 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. 

Some of the features of the LRC Concept have even survived in the interior. The brushed metal-sided center console rises up at an angle, more sports car than sport utility. The gear-selector for the six-speed automatic is a simple metal dial in the center, and unpolished alloy rings surround most of the interior controls. 

The fit and finish is remarkably tight and has a solid feeling, which shows through on the road too — no squeaks or unpleasant sounds of any sort. In our ride, the Evoque was quiet and vault-like. 

The full name is a mouthful. It's the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. Range Rover is a line of models  — until just a few years ago, 'Range Rover' was just the name of one product — built by Land Rover, the name of the company. Range Rover clearly carries more cachet than Land Rover, and the Evoque fits with the styling direction of existing Range Rover vehicles. To clear up the confusion, what about just "Evoque?"

The three pre-production Evoque models that we previewed offered different trims, including the sportier “Dynamic” and the luxury-focused “Prestige” model. The contrast between them is surprising; they each offer a unique character and have well thought-out differences. The Dynamic version has distinct front and rear bumpers, wheels, and a darker interior with body-colored accents. The Prestige Evoque we saw had a richer, more traditional interior with lighter materials and different wheels. 

The sportier “Dynamic” model has honey-combed vents in the hood.  

We’re curious if the Evoque will impact sales of the existing Range Rover Sport. Sure, the Range Rover Sport offers more room, V8 power and is, let’s be clear, a completely different machine. But the Evoke, priced at a hair under $44,000, offers a lower price of entry to the Range Rover brand. (The Sport starts at just under $61,000.) Besides, the Evoque looks better. Buyers who are after the Range Rover name and look are likely to look no further. 

 

There is a sizable cargo area, but it's not huge, so be prepared to fold the rear seats down for large items. The rear seats handle two six-foot adults with no problem, which is slightly surprising considering the aggressively downward-sloping roofline. 

Make no mistake, the Evoque hasn't abandoned its off-road lineage. The Evoque still has over eight inches of axle clearence, electronic Terrain Response, Hill Start Assist and full-time four-wheel drive.

Every Evoque comes equipped with a Fixed Panorama Roof, which spans an expansive view of the sky to all passengers, even those in the back seat. This interior shown is the sportier "Dynamic" trim.

The countered, piano-black side mirrors looks as if formed in a wind tunnel. An aerodynamic Range Rover? This must be a first.

Land Rover’s new Range Rover Evoque will hit dealerships next month. We think Land Rover will find a lot of new, younger buyers for the Evoque, although traditionalists might need some further convincing.

 
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