Scoring the ‘Designers’ award at the World Car 2012 Awards brought the tally of prizes handed to the Range Rover Evoque to 101. That should tell you something about Range Rover’s historic first compact SUV – even rival designers acknowledge its brilliance.
Critics say Range Rover took too long to recognize global down-sizing across the entire automotive industry. Rangie is smart in countering that its smallest and lightest ever car was worth the wait – and next-up in the launch schedule is the fuel-sipping, cleaner exhaust eD4 variant so it’s safe to say Range Rover has ‘got’ this downsizing thing on-board.
For Car Showroom…well we endorse every award given to the range Rover Evoque – this is a very, very impressive vehicle.
Range Rover Evoque 5-Door Overview
Car Showroom has previously tested the Range Rover Evoque Coupe and we were keen to sample the five-door as we felt this model would have great appeal to family buyers. We were right on that score – the five-door delivering all of the acclaimed Range Rover Evoque attributes with the convenience demanded by those with youngsters.
Our five-door was the SD4 in entry-level ‘Pure’ grade (or Design Theme in Range Rover Evoque-speak). That means the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel with 140kW/420Nm, 17-inch alloy wheels and brushed aluminium inside.
Range Rover Evoque takes-on rivals from BMW and Audi in the battle to be Australia’s best selling European compact SUV.
Range Rover Evoque 5-Door Engine
Range Rover gave the 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel a ‘do-over’ for the Evoque, updating or replacing more than 60 per-cent of its components in the quest of more power, a broader torque curve, increased refinement and reduced exhaust emissions. Range Rover being Range Rover, the engineers also completely re-did the exhaust system for the Evoque to deliver a more harmonious tone!
Among the changes are a water-cooled variable nozzle turbine turbocharger, low-noise injectors, lighter weight and faster glow-plug operation.
Maximum power in SD4 guise as tested is 140kW and peak torque is 420Nm.
The Pure model as tested drove all four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.
Range Rover Evoque 5-Door The Interior
First-timers in a full-size Range Rover are surprised by how high you sit – for the Evoque, the opposite is true…it’s almost sports car-like when you slip behind the wheel. And that’s just the first of the pleasant surprises inside the Range Rover Evoque.
In an era when there is a ‘sameness’ about automotive interiors, Range Rover Evoque again stands-out with its individual look and style. And while it’s no doubt modern and ground-breaking, everywhere you look are reminders that this compact model doesn’t short-change on Range Rover luxury.
For example the gear selector is the hallmark Range Rover/Jaguar rotary dial which rises automatically when the engine is fired-up.
The Pure model as tested gains leather seats and brushed aluminium for the centre console, an eight-speaker audio system with five-inch colour screen, the eight-inch colour TFT driver information display and beautiful Oxford leather steering wheel.
This was our first time in a Range Rover Evoque five door (the extra glass providing a noticeably lighter interior than the coupe) and we were impressed by the ease of entry to the rear and also the comfortable rear seat (as per the three-door). Legroom was on-par with rivals.
In the luggage area, Range Rover Evoque is wide enough to store a full-size golf bag (some rivals require removal of longer drivers and putters) and with the 60/40 split fold rear seat folded, the capacity is 1445-litres – but it’s not overly deep.
Range Rover Evoque 5-Door Exterior & Styling
We’re not the only ones captivated by the looks of the Range Rover Evoque – even rival designers voted the compact Rangie the Design Car Of The Year 2012. Part of their critique was how close the production version of the Evoque remains to the highly-praised LRX concept car.
The ‘Pure’ model as tested (other ‘Design Themes’ are ‘Dynamic’ and ‘Prestige’) is said to be the ‘purest’ expression of that startling LRX concept. Running 17-inch ‘Silver Sparkle’ alloy wheels, the Pure grade is highlighted by high-gloss black detailing for the pillars and tailgate to exaggerate Evoque’s high-waisted coupe-like stance.
But of course it is individual customization which is the standout of Range Rover Evoque - 12 colours, three contrasting roof hues and eight choices of alloy wheels just for starters.
We love the bold front-end (highlighted by LED fog lights on the Pure model tested) – the narrow grille and slim-line lights exuding real width and purposefulness for this compact SUV. Same at the rear where the coupe-like stance is continued with the thin glass, high-waist and startling tailgate.
Range Rover Evoque 5-Door On The Road
We’ve been huge fans of the current Range Rover Sport and Vogue models since we drove them at the world media launch in Scotland. By any measure the full-size Rangies mount a claim to be the world’s best SUVs.
But Range Rover freely admits the Sport and Vogue may not tick all the boxes for younger drivers when it comes to on-road dynamics – thus providing a firmer, flatter dynamic was the key in developing the Evoque’s ride/handling package. The firmer set-up of the Range Rover Sport was the starting point.
Over our high-speed mountain roads test loop the Range Rover Evoque shone with its fully independent suspension nicely calibrated for refinement yet still connected for the driver. Turn-in was crisp and balance was spot on with just the expected AWD understeer at the limit.
Range Rover’s 140kW/420Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel is a beauty and certainly sets the ‘SD4’ model Evoque apart from most rivals. Just that extra grunt for freeway merging and overtaking, combined with Range Rover’s hallmark refinement makes the difference.
Of course a major part of that story is the slick six-speed automatic transmission with very clever spacing for the ratios.
That handy engine/transmission combo was appreciated in the city where it combined with Range Rover Evoque’s smaller dimensions to provide an everyday drive which was responsive in tight spaces and easy to live with.
Our only slight criticism was the EPAS power steering which we reckon is a bit ‘remote’ compared to the BMW and Audi systems.
Range Rover Evoque 5-Door Challenges
Range Rover has technologies for everything, including ‘Park Assist’, ‘Blind Spot Monitoring’ and the excellent ‘Surround Camera System’ but there’s no denying rear and rear-three-quarter visibility is a tad compromised by the exterior style of the Evoque.
Thing is, for families, the three-door might get cumbersome in everyday life so in that context the Range Rover Evoque five-door would be our preference.
Range Rover Evoque 5-Door The Competition
Turbo-diesel versions of the BMW X1 start at $49,300 which is great value. However BMW’s single-turbocharged 2.0-litre (130kW/350Nm) falls short of the Evoque’s 140kW/420Nm (BMW xDrive 23d twin-turbo diesel is good for 150kW/400Nm and is stickered at $59,280).
Stylish as the X1 is (and it’s very stylish) the German doesn’t command the on-road presence of the Range Rover Evoque.
Similar story for Audi’s Q5 – a quality German but the 125kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel makes the $62,200 sticker a bit hard to swallow compared to $59,875 for the Rangie.
Range Rover Evoque 5-Door Verdict
No point beating around the bush here – for luxury compact SUVs the Range Rover Evoque is the benchmark, numero-uno, top of the totem pole. We’d love a ‘Pure’SD4 5-door full-time in our garage.
We just love the looks (well Range Rover Evoque is the Designers Car Of the year 2012), the driving dynamics, the Range Rover-ish interior and of course the Range Rover technology – all in a smaller package than the full-size Rangie (which we also love).