We?ll take any chance we can get to drive a Land Rover, and when the 2013 Land Rover Evoque became available in the press fleet, we jumped at the opportunity to spend a week in the brand?s smallest model.
First introduced in the Fall 2011, the Land Rover Evoque became the company?s first foray into the sporty segment. With an entirely different design direction and using a small turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood, Land Rover was treading lightly into unknown territories, but the result was spectacular.
The Evoque might be taking some different paths than previous models, but the Evoque is anything but a lightweight when it comes to the Land Rover mission of producing the world?s best off-road vehicles. The Evoque is an amazing off-road vehicle despite it stylish on-road demeanor. It?s also one of the brand?s top sellers with sales numbers rivaling the stalwart Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.
Available in coupe and five-door configurations, Evoque seats five in comfortable luxury. The interior looks rich, filled with stitched panels on the dash and door panels, along with a tasteful amount of brushed aluminum trim. The handsomely organized center console and center stack put the controls easily at hand. Near eye level at the top of the center stack is an eight-inch touch screen used to control climate, audio and phone functions, plus the optional navigation system and cameras. The Evoque control system isn?t caught up in the levels of menus and sub menus used by many manufacturers with similar systems, rather, nearly every system has redundant controls on either the wheel or the center stack in addition to the on screen controls.
Getting in to drive the Evoque is like a Hollywood production, especially in the dark. As the driver approaches and hits the key fob, puddle lights shine down from the side mirrors in the shape of a silhouette of the vehicle. Once inside, the driver pushes the start button and interior displays and ambient lighting activate as in a choreographed start-up sequence, and the solid aluminum shift control rises from the console. The driver can even select the color scheme, however when the Dynamic drivetrain mode is selected, the color is always — red.
Like all Land Rovers, the Evoque is a full-time all-wheel-drive system with the Terrain Response System. The driver simply presses a button, just to the rear of the shifter, to set the vehicle up for general driving, grass/gravel/snow, mud and ruts or sand. The system then sets the Evoque up for maximum efficiency in the selected terrain.
The Evoque is fun to drive with its nimble handling and surprisingly responsive drivetrain. The 240-hp Ford-designed turbocharged engine is a 2.0-liter direct injection four-cylinder mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, which can be manually shifted using paddles mounted on the rear of the steering wheel. As expected, the 3,900-pound Evoque doesn?t have near the performance level of its big brothers, which have big V-8?s, but it?s still impressive with a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of 7.1 seconds. It has a top speed limited to 135-mph. EPA fuel economy estimates are 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. We averaged 23.6 mpg during a week of driving, but with little regard for fuel economy.
Evoque?s all-new four-wheel independent suspension produces a solid controlled ride with little body roll and a comfortable but sporty feel. It?s also equipped with all the latest electronic enhancements to maximize stability and handling. Standard equipment on all versions is Dynamic Stability Control, hill descent control with Gradient Release Control, electronic traction control, Hill Hold, Roll Stability Control and Trailer Stability Assist.
One of the available options, Adaptive Dynamics featuring MagneRide? uses advanced continuously variable magneto-rheological dampers, which is like the magnetic suspensions fitted on some high performance sports cars. The system reads the vehicle movements at least 1000 times/second, reacting to driver or road inputs virtually instantaneously.
Barbara got a good exposure to Evoque?s off road prowess during the media launch in the Vancouver, British Columbia area. She actually drove up Whistler ski area?s rugged maintenance roads. She even got a little snow driving time while at the top of the mountain. Land Rover people say Evoque doesn?t have quite the off-road capabilities as its bigger brothers, but it can certainly handle anything we would ever do and it goes far beyond the capabilities of most SUVs.
Evoque comes in three design themes: Pure which is cleaner, more contemporary and elegant; Prestige with is more luxurious; and Dynamic with its sportier look and functions.
Five-door Evoque pricing starts at $42,935, including the destination charge, for the Pure and goes to $53,735 for the Prestige version. The Coupe is only available in the Pure and Dynamic versions, which are priced at $45,935 and $53,835 respectively. With all the available options, the Dynamic Coupe is priced at just over $62,000.
We have a few pet peeves about the Evoque including the lack of passenger assist handles, sun visor extensions or height adjustments on the shoulder belts. Nevertheless, we think the Evoque is a perfect addition to the Land Rover lineup especially with its unique styling, very good fuel economy and fun to drive characteristics.
Since it was introduced, the Evoque has picked up some top awards including Motor Trend magazine?s SUV of the Year, North American Truck of the Year, Automobile magazines All-Star Award and the Northwest Press Association?s SUV of the Year.