Given their rising popularity, it was only a matter of time before the luxury brands jumped on the mid-size SUV bandwagon and one of the first to do so was Range Rover with their baby Rangie, known as the Range Rover Evoque.
Launched in 2011 with great fanfare by former Spice Girl turned fashion designer, Victoria Beckham, we drove the Si4 Coupe in 2013 and the updated five-door in 2014. The new Evoque packs loads of luxury into its stylish compact body and we’ve been out and about in the top-of-the-line, five-door $80,605 (plus on-road costs) Range Rover Evoque HSE Si4 Dynamic.
It’s loaded with standard kit including 19” alloy wheels, an 11-speaker 380-watt Meridian sound system, parking sensors, rear camera with hitching guidance, lane departure warning and autonomous emergency braking, a gesture opening tailgate, head up display with navigation, torque vectoring braking, auto headlights and wipers.
Our Evoque came as a burger with the lot and included nineteen grand of extra goodies like the upgraded sound system featuring 17 speakers and digital TV with dual view screen, Oxford leather interior, black panoramic roof, adaptive dynamic mode and 20-inch black alloy wheels, taking the price to $99,055.
There’s no denying the Evoque turns heads. Its unmistakable five-door body, tapered side glass and roofline, raked front and rear windows and wide Range Rover like stance give it a powerful look. Rear vision is compromised a bit, but the reversing camera makes up for that.
Finished in a seriously stunning Firenze Red with contrasting black roof and perched on black 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in super low profile tyres, our burger with the lot was jaw-dropping to look at. Dressed like this, with road-biased rubber I didn’t venture off-road, despite knowing the brand’s off-roading pedigree, I just didn’t want to get it muddy.
Inside, the Evoque is very inviting with sumptuous black Oxford leather seats, steering wheel and console and configurable mood lighting. It has the same look and ambience as the full-sized Rangie. Neat touches include the illumination of the words ‘Range Rover’ on the scuff panel when you open the door and the Evoque symbol that lights up the road from the puddle lamp in the front doors.
It might be compact on the outside, but inside the Evoque is surprisingly spacious with good leg and headroom in both rows, despite the low roofline. There’s also lots of storage options for knick knacks in both rows. If your arms are full you open the tailgate by sweeping your foot under the rear bumper and in our case, the 575-litre boot can easily carry made light work of three overnight bags and supplies for a weekend away at the beach.
The two music lovers dwelling in the second row appreciated the quality of the sound system and split-screen digital TV and DVD player. Me, I liked the ease of operating the entire infotainment system, either by voice control or using the 20cm touch screen. The Head-Up Display beamed sat nav directions at me and was still easy to read on the sunniest of days.
Propelling the Dynamic Si4 is a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 177kW and 340Nm. It didn’t feel quick off the mark, but like many SUV’s its speed is deceiving. However, I felt a touch of turbo lag at take off which caused a bit of hesitation in the nine-speed auto.
That said, the Evoque effortlessly and efficiently cruises with sufficient power for most occasions and in Sport mode, it’s noticeably more responsive, with extra urge from the engine and each gear held longer, before seamlessly changing to the next cog.
It didn’t matter what setting I set the suspension in, the low profile tyres on those massive wheels eliminated most of the limousine ride, but not enough to be noticed by others in the car. On the twisty roads I drove, it didn’t behave like an SUV, with good body control, poise and accuracy.
Safety wise the five-star ANCAP-rated Range Rover Evoque Si4 Dynamic has a good amount kit including the obligatory swathe of airbags throughout both rows. There’s also traction and stability controls plus driver assist technologies like forward collision alert and autonomous emergency braking and blind spot warning.
At first glance, the Range Rover Evoque seduces you with its stylish exterior (especially in this colour combo). Inside it luxuriates you with soft leather, tactile surfaces and excellent fit and finish. As you delve deeper, it impresses you with its driver assist, safety and entertainment technologies. And when you push the start button, select Drive and plant your foot, it totally engages you.