We don’t really know where to begin with the 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. While its full name might prove utterly clumsy to the tongue, the Indian-owned, British marquee’s first foray into the crossover SUV segment is nothing if not blissfully elegant and utterly alluring. Of course we could lavish other superlatives on it, but it would be an exercise in futility because the Evoque must be experienced, not just seen.
In some ways the Evoque is the antithesis of what the Land Rover brand has become. It might retain the company’s penchant for luxury and offroad ability (more on that later) but it’s fresh, rambunctious, and nothing like you’d expect from a company that has rarely ventured beyond its base. We’d like to think great design resonates with all ages; nevertheless, there is no denying the Evoque is destined for a new and younger crowd.
Of course there was always the possibility Land Rover would risk running afoul its existing customers with a model like the Evoque, but then again there was also the chance it would take off, which so far seems to be the case. A fact the corporate suits at Land Rover will surely be aware of and pleased with. After all, more interest equals greater sales and the Evoque is a working illustration of that.
Simply put, the Evoque is truly a stunning achievement in automotive design. It’s like the David Beckham of cars. Guys will admire it and women, well…let’s just say women will want to drive it too and leave it at that.
While much praise must be given to Land Rover for designing it, further praise must also be shown for sticking so faithfully to the original concept that debuted at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show. Needless to say we’ve encountered far too many concepts that wow initially, only to discard the best parts once headed to production. As you can see, that’s not the case here.
In the booming crossover SUV segment we’ve grown accustomed to seeing over stylized and shallow offerings from virtually every automaker. At first glance the Evoque, might, well…evoke an inclination to label it as such, but truth be told, it manages to pull off its unique looks with a inspiring assuredness.
It’s easy to get lost in the Evoque’s unique stylings. From the front the Evoque exhibits a hypnotic character. Vivid HID headlights flank both sides of its split grille, while stationed just below we find a set of LED fog lamps that accentuate an already striking visage. Along its sloping hood, small black grille side vents provide added detail and naturally carry the eye upwards to its expansive windshield.
Walking to the side the visual feast continues unabated. Measuring in at 171 inches long, with a 104.7 inch wheelbase, and propped up on its five-spoke alloy wheels, the Evoque is neither long nor wide. When we first happened upon our review unit we were actually taken aback by how small the car looked. For some reason, before we saw the vehicle in person, the ability to imagine the Evoque as anything smaller than a Range Rover Sport was virtually impossible. But despite its relatively diminutive frame, the Evoque still manages to command a power and presence rarely exhibited in a car of its stature.
The sexiness continues unabated to the Evoque’s delicious derriere, but where other areas of the vehicle are flush with detail, the rear exhibits a greater degree of subtlety. Here smaller LED talilamps accent what is judicious use of anything that isn’t sheetmetal for the rear valance, while the tail’s flat-nosed dual exhausts add a measure of sportiness.
Stylistically, the Evoque is sharper than a sword. Whether it’s rolling down the street or stopped at a light, the 2012 Evoque has no problem turning heads, and not because of its rarity, but because of its perfect juxtaposition of style, athleticism, and elegance. Aggressive character lines run throughout its athletic frame and fuse together seamlessly with sharp touches like exaggerated wheel arches. The Evoque’s raked windshield cuts sharply towards the hood, while managing to complement its tapered roof, lending the Evoque an elegant, nimble, and sturdy look. Simply put: The Evoque doesn’t just get your attention, it demands it.
More than mere luxury
If misery loves company then luxury breeds it. Why is that? Well, it’s simple really. Everyone will want to jump inside this high-end Hilton on wheels. And who could blame them? Filled with virtually every indulgence imaginable, the interior is superbly smart and effortlessly elegant. And given that the Evoque is meant to appear to urbanites as much, if not more, than the traditional Land Rover demographic (monocle wearing tea-drinkers from what we understand), it’s impressive to see how well the cabin contrasts classic luxury while exploring greater degrees of comfort and utility.
It is that comfort and feeling of luxury that affords the Evoque its most merits. For a car trying to marry the old world to the new, there never seems to be an outward clash of automotive cultures. Traditional sporty gauges cradle a smartly lit LCD instrument display, while a buttery smooth Oxford-wrapped leather steering wheel is flanked by the requisite infotainment controls. In the center the Evoque ditches the traditional shifter, placing Jaguar’s dial variety in its stead.
Not to be outdone by its luxurious side, the inner sportiness of the 2012 Range Rover Evoque shines through with its leather-dipped bucket seats that seem more at home dumped inside a low-slung sports car than a high riding crossover. Of course, coupes aren’t heralded for their prodigious use of space, but tapered roof and all the Evoque never feels claustrophobic, with ample leg and headspace for those riding in the back.
While it’s important to mention the Evoque’s smaller stature earlier, truth be told the mathematics and measurements never quite align with the reality. Stepping inside the cabin is a formidable test of your spatial perception. It should feel smaller, but it doesn’t. A big part of that is the galaxy of space the Evoque’s optional glass roof provides. It’s nothing short of elegant and is by far our favorite aspect of an already impressive interior. Don’t even consider purchasing one without it.
But don’t expect acres of space in the rear hold either, as the Evoque measures in at a paltry 19.4 cubic feet of cargo space. For the curious, that’s less than the Audi Q5 (29.1) the BMW X3 (27.6) and the Mercedes-Benz GLK (23.3). Although to be fair, cargo space jumps to 47.6 with the rear seats dropped forward. While it will suffice for smaller hauls, don’t expect the Evoque to accommodate all your camping gear.
Unfortunately, there are some low notes in an otherwise solid symphony of style. If you’re not piloting the vehicle or sitting comfortably up front, getting in and out of Evoque Coupe is both awkward and cumbersome. The initial novelty of the automatically moving seat quickly gives way to annoyance and frustration as our editorial team recently found out first hand during a thorough investigation of the city’s bars and nightlife. Of course the solution would be to opt for the four-door variety, but no doubt our incessant foot-tapping would have been eliminated had Land Rover allowed for a mechanical override. And given that time is money, well, it just makes more sense.
Another blip occurs when operating the navigation system (surprise!). In an ironic twist of fate, the Evoque’s 8-inch LCD touchscreen was actually quite responsive and up to the task. However, in our efforts to keep both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road while driving (we’re such model citizens after all), we try and minimize our interaction with the touchscreens as much as possible. Unfortunately, there were times when this just wasn’t possible. Using the steering wheel’s controls was never consistent and shifting through tracks on our iPod felt erratic, lazy, or didn’t register at all — a shame considering how stellar our review unit’s 380 Watt, 11-speaker Meridian sound system was.
Ford fueled fun
So what’s actually under the Evoque’s chiseled hood? Driving power to the wheels is a Ford-sourced, 240 horsepower pumping, and 270 pound-feet of torque producing, 2.0-liter four cylinder Ecoboost engine with direct injection and turbocharging. While the Evoque isn’t the quickest cat out of the bag, it does provide a solid kick once the initial turbolag has run its course. According to Land Rover, it’s capable of dashing from 0-60 mph in about 7.0 seconds, which is no easy task when noting its hefty — almost 4,000 pound – frame.
Naturally we weren’t expecting much by way of fuel economy, but the Evoque fares better than we imagined. Thanks in large part to its Ecoboost engine — which seems to keep getting better and better – the EPA has awarded the Evoque with 18/28 mpg rating. While these figures are certainly commendable, be prepared for them to dip as real world driving conditions take their toll on your fuel reserves. Of course if you’re considering an Evoque in the first place we can’t imagine fuel economy hovering near the top of your priorities list to begin with. Still, for the light of foot, the ability to grind out respectable levels of fuel economy is present.
Country club/countryside ready
Despite its weight, the Evoque is more ballerina than bulldozer. It’s quick, agile, handles more like a car than SUV, and was ready to tackle everything thrown its way. From short sorties into the city and suburbs to longer stretches on the interstate, the Evoque exhibits exceptional road manners with effortless ease. Handling characteristics are top-shelf and work wonderfully in tandem with its competent all-wheel-drive system. Steering was both light and responsive, and the Evoque rarely wobbled or showed signs of ineptitude during our road trials.
What came as a greater surprise though is how capable the Evoque handled in terrain typically reserved for its trail-blazing siblings. Don’t let its aesthetic eloquence fool you, the Evoque can clamber atop steep gradients and take the automotive fight off-road too, thanks to Land Rover’s Terrain Response System, which lets the driver select programs for mud, sand, and snow. Let’s be honest though, we all know most won’t think to use these, and while we commend Land Rover for giving it the all-terrain chops of its forbearers, the reality is the Evoque is better off driving over manholes not mudholes.
What does tend to pose a big problem is visibility. Namely, how easy was it going to be to see past two noggins while backing up or changing lanes. Surprisingly, this isn’t really an issue thanks to Evoque’s blind spot assist and surround and backup camera system, but what did prove alarming was how easily forward visibility can be obstructed by the vehicle’s enormous side-view.
Revoking your funds
Just as it commands attention on the roads, the Range Rover Evoque is equally demanding on your bank account. Base price for the two-door coupe starts at $44,000 including an $850 destination fee. However, the price of our review united quickly ascended to just under $57,000 once we factored in its Dynamic Premium package, which adds a unique rear and front fascia, spoiler extensions, dual sport exhausts tips, and a bevy of other aesthetic touch ups on top of luxurious accouterments, such as a 360-degree parking camera system and keyless ignition.
As we mentioned before, the Evoque isn’t targeting the traditional Range Rover retinue. Instead, the purpose is to pull in a broader demographic of buyers. In the case of the Evoque: rich urbanites that will invariably prefer style over function with a healthy dose of luxury thrown in for good measure. At its core, the Evoque is a status symbol — an attention grabber (both for customer and company) and a look into the future of where the Land Rover brand could be headed. Is it the automotive gods’ gift to the motoring world? No. But driving it is nothing short of divine.
Like every car, the 2012 Range Rover Land Rover Evoque has its issues: it’s expensive; altogether impractical; has some glaring design concerns, but for every one thing it does poorly, the Evoque compensates by executing two with aplomb. We can’t sit here and justify the kind of money one will inevitably spend here, but we can encourage it. The Evoque is like nothing else on the road or even in its class. If money is no object and you value style over sensibility then you have reached the end of the rainbow. In an age where consumers base their purchases on desire more than practicality, the Evoque sits atop its throne rightfully looking down on the competition.
- Eye-catching body style
- Commendable fuel economy
- Luxurious and tech-loaded interior
- Impractical in almost every sense
- Limited cargo space
- High price point