2013 Range Rover Evoque

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It took guts for Land Rover to actually build a vehicle like the Evoque. Not as a concept car – but as an actual production car.Evoq lead 2

A production car that still looks like a concept car.

This is a rare thing – for obvious reasons. Extremes of style can be polarizing – and are all-too-often functionally compromising.

One does not see many Isuzu VehiCrosses (or Pontiac Azteks)  running around today.

But the Evoque is no Vehicross – and most definitely no Aztek (no one will laugh at you and call you Heisenberg).

It’s also no Land Rover – in the traditional LR sense.

WHAT IT IS

The Evoque is a new addition to the LR lineup – and very different from other LR models in form as well as function.

It is shorter and wider – and smaller – and much lighter – than other LR models. It is also much more on-road than off-road minded – and comes in both two and four door versions – something absent from the SUV market since the 1990s-era two-door  Ford Explorer. evoque lead 1

Power comes from a turbo four – not a six (much less an eight.)

Prices start at $41,145 for the base four-door Pure trim. The coupe starts one notch higher in Pure Plus trim (optional with the four-door model) and carries a base price of $44,145. There are Premium and Dynamic upgrade trims available for either version and so equipped, an Evoque’s out-the-door price can crest $50,000.

Because of its unique looks and layout, the Evoque hasn’t got any direct competitors – yet. The closest cross-shop contenders available at the moment are sporty crossover SUVs along the lines of the BMW X1 and X3  and Audi Q5. However, a more direct threat is on deck for 2014, when Audi will launch the Evoque-sized (and more Evoque-themed) Q3.

Even then, none of these are (or will be) offered in two-door form.

Which means the Evoque’s in a class by itself.

WHAT’S NEWEvoque rear

For its second year on the market, the Evoque receives a few minor style tweaks and an upgraded version of its off-road guidance system (which is integrated with the GPS).

An automatic parking assist feature has been added to the options roster.

WHAT’S GOOD

It’s gorgeous as industrial design – and surprisingly everyday practical – despite that wicked roofline.

It’s light – and thus, agile.

A peppy performer – notwithstanding four-cylinder power.

Doesn’t cost as much as you’d expect it to cost. Only about $4k more than the wallflower-looking LR2.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOODevoque console

Despite its small engine, the Evoque has a fairly big appetite for gas – if driven as it ought to be driven.

Despite being light, it’s not any quicker than a 400-plus pounds heavier X3 (and it’s about 1.5 seconds slower than the closer-to-its-size/weight X1).

No upgrade engine available.

If it’s a sales flop, expect it to depreciate in an Aztekian downward curve.

UNDER THE HOOD

Like a growing number of automakers – including high-end automakers – Land Rover is moving toward smaller engines (with big-boost turbos for on-demand power) as a way to make its vehicles more everyday fuel-efficient. Thus, the Evoque comes standard with the same 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine that’s also become standard equipment in the 2013 LR2 – which formerly came with a larger – and much thirstier – 3.2 liter in-line six.Evoque engine

The turbo four gits ‘er done on all counts. It makes more power than the old six  (240 hp vs. 230) as well as more torque  (251 lbs.-ft at 1,750 RPM vs. 234 lbs.-ft at 3,500 RPM). It also rates better EPA numbers: 18 city, 28 highway vs. 15 city, 22 highway for the old LR straight six – if you can keep your foot out of it. If not – if the boost’s on a lot – your real-world mileage will vary. I averaged about 20 MPG during my week-long test drive.

Then again, your mileage may vary.

Zero to 60 happens in about 7.4 seconds.

These numbers put the Evoque right there with other four-cylinder-turbo’d, compact/mid-size SUVs like the 2013 BMW X3 28i and Audi Q5 2.0 T – but a step or two behind the very quick BMW X1, the base version of which gets to 60 in 6.2 seconds. The X1 with its optionally available 300 hp turbo six is even quicker still: 0-60 in just over 5 seconds – which makes it one of the speediest vehicles of this general type you can buy right now.  (The 2014 Q3 – which is scheduled for a summer 2013 introduction – will be powered by the same 2.0 turbo engine used as the Q5’s base engine; being smaller and lighter than the Q5, it will probably be quicker than the Evoque, too.)Evoque terrain

Also: Both the X3 and Q5 (like the X1) offer upgrade engines – while the Evoque does not.

When equipped with their optional sixxes, the X3 and Q5 get to 60 almost two full seconds sooner. They also come equipped with more efficient (and better performing) eight-speed automatics while the Evoque comes standard with a six-speed. It is an excellent six-speed that shifts smartly and smoothly – but in this price range, eight-speeds are fast becoming de rigueur – the expected thing.

In the US, all Evoques come standard with a Haldex Gen IV AWD system (with driver-selectable Terrain sensing settings) similar in layout and function to the system found in the LR2. In normal driving, most of the engine’s power is routed to the front wheels, but if they begin to lose traction, power is kicked to the rear wheels in ever increasing percentages to maintain forward progress. It’s not as off-road-capable as the RWD-based 4WD system (which has a two-speed transfer case and 4WD Low range gearing) used in the LR4 and other Land Rover models, but it is nonetheless very capable when it comes to handling snow-covered pavement, sandy beaches and grassy fields.evoque mud

Helping the Evoque’s  off-pavement bona fides is a verty generous 8.4 inches of ground clearance – which is more ground clearance than the Audi Q5 (7.9 inches) and the BMW X3 (8.3 inches). Skid plates are available, too – part of the Dynamic package, which also includes special 19 inch wheels and perforated leather seat covers.

Also top-drawer is the Evoque’s tow rating of 3,500 lbs. – 500 pounds better than the BMW X3 28i – though not quite as strong as the current class-leading Audi Q5’s 4,400 lb. rating (with its optional supercharged V-6 engine).

No word yet on the ’14 Q3’s max tow rating.

ON THE ROADEvoque road

Other Land Rover models are – principally – built to perform near-miracles off road. And, they do. The price you pay for this is mass. Unsprung mass. Lots of it. An LR4 weighs a pavement crushing 5,623 lbs – and even the lighter-duty LR2 comes in at nearly two tons – 3,913 lbs. This naturally limits the moves these off-road machines can make on-road. Cornering at high speed, for instance. It’s just not their bag, baby. And to be fair, one shouldn’t expect it to be.

Ferraris aren’t much good for rock crawling, either.

The Evoque is something new – and the differences are more than skin deep. Its curb weight is a mere 3,680 lbs. This is not only light relative to other LR models, it is light relative to other manufacture’s models. The BMW X3 doesn’t look it but at 4,112 lbs. it is a staggering 432 lbs. heavier than the Evoque. Even the X1 – which is smaller than the X3 – pushes 3,800 lbs.

The Audi Q5 is also a beefster at 4,079 lbs.

The 2014 Q3 is the only thing in the Evoque’s ballpark, weight-wise, but it’s not actually out yet. Stats weren’t official at the time this review was written in early April 2013, but the word is the Q will have a curb weight of about 3,700 lbs. – which would make it just slightly heavier.evoque back seats

Bottom line, the Evoque is super svelte – and thus, exceptionally agile. Though not a Ferrari – it’s not an LR4 (or even an LR2) and can be driven with gusto in other than a straight line. And stability at high speed in a straight line is also vastly better than other LR models. Jerk the wheel at 80 in an LR4 or Range Rover and you will get my drift.  They’re not dangerous. But they are SUVs – and if you drive one like it’s a car, you may learn a lesson the hard way.

The little turbo four has lots of guts – especially down low. The torque curve is almost diesel-like, but high RPM pull is not lacking. At the aforesaid 80-plus, the Evoque is both composed – and eager for more. It is an Autobahn worthy SUV – which is a shame given US highway speed limits.

The only critique I can gin up is that relative to the X1/X3 and Q5 (and probably the new Q3) the Evoque could be – and probably ought to be – a little quicker. Same power – less weight – should have done the trick. But, doesn’t. Maybe the Evoque’s profile isn’t as aerodynamically efficient as the lower slung Audi and BMW? Perhaps the main reason has to do with the six-speed automatic – vs. the eight speed boxes in the X3 and Q5 (the Q3 will have a six-speed automated manual).

It could also be final drive gearing. Who knows?Evoque road 2

It’s not that the Evoque is slow – none of the vehicles in this class is slow. It’s just that the LR should be a bit quicker, given its not-small power-to-weight advantage and given what less pricey vehicles like the X1 ($30,800 to start), the X3 ($38,850 to start) and Q5 ($35,900 to start) and, shortly, the Q3 (expected MSRP $32k-ish ) deliver in terms of forward thrust.

A more potent optional engine could also help – but that might be a problem for Land Rover, in terms of CAFE. Then again, Kia has managed to get 270 hp out of its 2.0 four; surely Land Rover could do it, too.

AT THE CURBcurb 1

“Dramatic” hardly covers it. But it’s the practicality of this stylistic wild child that’s the real story. Despite that show-car roofline, the Evoque has virtually the same front and rear head room (40.3 inches and 39.7 inches, respectively) as the bigger and longer and taller BMW X3 (40.7 inches and 39.1 inches) as well as – wait for it – slightly more front and rear headroom than the boxy LR2 (40.2 inches and 39.4 inches). And because the Evoque is very wide in proportion to its length (77.4 inches/171.9 inches as compared with 74.1 inches/183 inches for the X3) it feels even more spacious inside. For four people, it is extremely comfortable – even if those four are big n’ tall adults and even given the Evoque’s full-roof panorama glass. My 6 ft 3 self fits easily in the second row – with air to spare between the top of my head and the headliner. No forward crouching necessary. There is no compromise in terms of passenger-carrying capacity relative to vehicles of comparable size – and even relative to vehicles that are larger in size like the X3 and Q5.evoque inside

We’ll have to wait and see as far as the 2014 Q3, but I doubt it’ll be a major difference, either way.

And how about cargo space? You might think, given the Evoque is 5.1 inches stubbier than its LR2 cousin, it would have a severely abbreviated cargo area. In fact, the cube count is very close: 51 cubes total for the Evoque vs. 58.9  for the LR2. The BMW X3 has more cubes – 63.3 – but ought to, given it is almost a foot longer overall (183 inches vs. 171.9 for the Evoque). And the X1 has fewer cubes – just 47.7 all told.

Inside, the layout is familiar – but more fluid. For example, the center console flows up to meet the dash, which is canted forward rather than bolt upright, as in the LR2. It has metal-trim buttresses on either side – and a handy hidden cubby has been thoughtfully added behind it.Evoque shift selector

There is also a Jaguar-style rotary knob gear selector (with secondary manual controls on the steering wheel). I’m not a huge fan of this – even though it is admittedly elegant as far as its aesthetics. My issue is with function. You can’t just jump in, push the ignition start button – and go. You have to wait a moment for the rotary knob to rise all the way up from the dash before you can rotate it to select Drive. It’s a very small – and very subjective – complaint. Probably most people are not in as much of a hurry as I usually am.

Any way you view it, the Evoque is as interesting as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater – sharing the cantilevered themes, even. The roof seems to float – and project upward – while the beltline trends downward, with the windshield base extending well forward of the front door cut-line and the windshield itself arching backward and up to meet the roof. The “sedan” is no less dramatic-looking than the coupe, by the way.

Gorgeous – and practical. This is the girl you take home to to meet the folks.

THE RESTevoque eye

Speaking of practical, a word or two must be devoted to the Evoque’s windshield – which like all Land Rover windshields can be ordered with  an electric defroster grid (part of the Climate Comfort package, which also includes toasty seat heaters and heated windshield washer jets).

All new cars have rear electric defrosters. Only Land Rovers have both front and rear electric defrosters. It’s a small thing – but something you’ll come to appreciate the first time there’s an ice storm and instead of having to chip away at the front glass with a chisel, all you’ll need to do is push a button and wait a a few minutes for the Great Melting to take place. Magnificent. Why others haven’t followed Land Rover’s example is a mystery right up there with the JFK assassination.evoque assist

The new park assist thing is fascinating from a technology point of view. The Evoque can size up the potential parking spot for you – and if it’s a fit, the driver can then turn over the actual maneuvering to the cameras and computers. It works as advertised – but I look with a gimlet eye upon such “assistance.” Parallel parking is a pretty basic skill. Should a person who can’t park be driving?

THE BOTTOM LINE

It’s nice that such an exotic-looking thing is not exotically priced  – if you’re careful with the options – and also not functionally compromised – as most exotic-looking vehicles are. If anything, the Evoque is the most practical of all current Land Rover models. It’s better balanced – literally as well as figuratively. The off-road-minded LRs are superb when the pavement ends, but arguably too superb in terms of their off-road capabilities for the mostly on-street driving most people do. Their RWD-based layouts (LR2 excepted) eat up interior room, add bulk – and compromise their on-road handling and highway/high-speed stability. The Evoque has just enough off-road capability to be credible as a Land Rover – while still behaving more like a sporty car on the pavement.

It is everything a concept car ought to be – and everything a production car needs to be.

Throw it in the Woods?

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19 COMMENTS

  1. Compared with the outgoing Range Rover, that’s how this new one should feel: empty, unladen. By building what it describes as the world’s first SUV with an all-aluminum unibody, Land Rover has cut a claimed 700 pounds from its flagship; that’s the mass of five average-size Europeans or 4.1 Americans.

  2. Some comments are so offbase. First off this is a small vehicle a compact so it has amazing room both for luggage and people as the article points out. 171 inches long, to me this is a benefit for driving in urban areas and parking. Do not harp on room in luggage compartment because it has just as much room as any other small vehicle. Another plus is you could get a luggage rack which arguably may even improve the already rugged looks. Yes its one negative is visibility to the rear and it has standard backup cameras to alleviate this and unlike a trunk in a sedan you can open the hatch for extreme visibility for the really hard parking jobs and again the smallness of the evoque will make parking a snap. The looks of this vehicle is a home run. Do you know how hard it is to make a small suv look expensive, quality and rugged and at the same time sophisticated. If you dont look at every other luxury or economy suv out there. The X1 looks like a bad athletic shoe, the X3 is not only homely but arguments can be made that the Cx-5 and Kia sportage both look better for half the price. The Q3 looks like a dinner roll with almost no original style to it and thought especially in base trim. Can go on and on about other models looks but lets focus on the Evoque, it is a show car pulled directly from the Show Car circuit floor and when it was on the Show Circuit it was the best looking vehicle there. I still have yet to see a better looking design coming down the pike. You have the Porsche Cajun for example and it looks like a sportier dinner roll is all. Now offroad, unless you are climbing rocks this will handle all the offroading anyone can handle. Put snow tires on it and it will be unstoppable in bad weather. I am only waiting to return to the Usa to purschase one, the 2014 model will have the 9 speed auto!! This improves mpg, performance and sound. I prefer the Pure model with the 18 inch wheels found in Europe, with some more agressive looking offroad oriented tires I cant find a better all around vehicle. What is the only negative??? As someone who watched the official launch with Victoria Spice I wish they left her out of it. I hate the name Evoque and they should of stayed with the name Lrx. Why? Well I have heard chick car thrown around allot and I believe allot of it has to do with the Spice girl type bling. Watch it Land Rover you do not want a car to get the rep of chick car, looked what happened to the Vw Beetle. That is why I am getting it in Britich green with out the blingy wheels or lame two tone roof. Add chunky all terrain tires and this thing really puts to shame all its brothers like the sport, Lr4 and Range Rover and blows away the competition. I previously owned a Range Rover Sport and really except for a defender this is the only Land Rover I want to own.

  3. My excellent BMW mechanic knows the local RR dealer in the San Fernando Valley here in the next Detroit (Calif.).

    He says the things start falling apart as they come off the truck.

    Gotta get this to 60 in 6seconds somehow. Doubt tranny will due trick. More boost.

  4. Another great review following up your 2012 model review. As you noted, MY 2013 is not much different from the debut year but I bet you didn’t want to miss an opportunity to drive it again!

    I finally had a chance to drive the 2012 Evoque off road last September (on a obstacle course appropriate for its ground clearance) and was delighted with its capability. Many of the on-line videos that highlight its off-road performance show how it is still much more capable that other CUV/SUVs that don’t have low range and a (locking) center differential. I think you noted that in your prior review.

    In the bigger picture of the Range Rover line, the Evoque was a external styling reference point for new versions of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. The new line looks like a family. And, if you want to find a Range Rover model that performs both on- and off-road equally as well, expect to find it in the just-introduced Sport.

    As a long-time owner of Saabs with a current 9-3 SportCombi, I’m impressed with the fact that the Evoque performs better with its 2 liter turbo and gets about the same fuel mileage. My only real disappointment is the cargo space. The Evoque comes in at 20 cubes (rear seats up) while my SportCombi is 30 cubes (it’s also 13 inches longer). While the Evoque’s width helps with passenger room, that isn’t translated to the cargo area as well. But that’s the price of a compact. The all-new Range Rover comes with 32 cubes of cargo area.

  5. Electrically Heated windshields are nothing new. Porsche had them years ago. It was even available on some full size Fords. They were troublesome and cost a fortune to replace. Some insurance companies refused to pay for them.

    • Hi Paul,

      That’s interesting; I had no idea (and I’ve been test-driving/reviewing new cars for more than 20 years). Were they electrical grid heaters? Which models?

      I don’t doubt the LR units are more costly to replace than a standard windshield. But then, LRs are high-end vehicles and the parts in high end vehicles almost always cost more to replace.

      As far as trouble with them, I’ve never heard about that.

    • I drove one back in the ’90s – before LR stopped selling them in the US. Magnificent off-roaders, but absurdly priced. IIRC, the MSRP – back then – was $35k-ish. For what was – basically – a ’70s-era Jeep CJ or Bronco. The aluminum body was nice, but the aluminum V-8 was already ancient and underpowered (20 years ago).

      We never got the diesel version they sell in Europe, unfortunately.

  6. It looks like it was designed for Starbucks swigging urbanite moms going tear-ass to the nearest soccer field or dance recital.

  7. Styling is a huge priority in vehicles, even SUVs and CUVs (more so the latter). Just take the aforementioned Aztek. It was, dare I say, a very practical vehicle with lots of cubbies, clever folding seats and other doodads that added up to a very flexible and useful vehicle for the time. It was horribly let down by the grotesque styling and, to a lesser degree, the powertrain.

    I think the “really pretty” measure belongs here at least as much as the interior cu. in. measurements, gas mileage, etc. People buy SUVs and CUVs because they are practical, but they don’t want to give up styling to get the practicality. If so, minivans would be the hottest market on the planet. The two-box layout of SUVs and CUVs provide a little more for stylists to work with. Yet somehow most, CUVs especially, end up looking like each other. LR has demonstrated that it isn’t necessarily so with the Evoque (pronounced the same as “evoke,” by the way).

    The biggest pitfall I see with the Evoque’s styling is the poor visibility, especially to the rear. I had a relative with a Cadillac SRX. Not a bad CUV, but you couldn’t see a semi truck behind you if you were backing into a parking space. The side mirrors were useless as well, and the fish-eye view backup camera was nearly useless for its intended purpose. Despite being a good looking SUV, it sacrificed far too much in terms of daily drivability to be a good CUV. It’s OK for most of its actual market, septuagenarians octogenarians who never bother to look anywhere other than directly in front of their car as they drive anyway. Not so good for actual drivers. I have read many reviews of the Evoque and the rearward visibility seems to be a common complaint (as with the SRX). No wonder they have a self-parking parallel park option. It would likely be difficult otherwise.

    The other, probably bigger, problem for LR is that they don’t have very accessible dealers. I live in the second most populous area of Arkansas and the nearest dealership to purchase/service this vehicle would be 2 hours away in another state. There’s only one dealer in the entire state of Arkansas, and it’s 3.5 hours away. Given the relatively lower price of this model, the fact that they can’t sell them to many people because the dealer network is so limited is a bummer. I have not seen one Evoque in or around town here yet, despite it having been available for over a year. Yet I see a fair number of Range Rovers and Range Rover Sports. The point? If you’re wealthy enough to buy such a high end car, you can afford to have it sent in for service. If you are only wealthy enough to buy an Evoque, you probably have to work for a living and can’t spend a day on the road to and from a dealer just to get routine servicing and warranty work, of which there’ll be plenty. It’s a Land Rover, after all. The Evoque is legitimately moving into upper middle class territory, but isn’t accessible, literally, to those potential buyers outside of the very few areas served by a dealership.

    • Strong points, SJ – especially as regards the dealership accessibility issue. As an aside, that’s what kept me from buying a Ducati a few years back – when I almost did (back when I had the money!) The nearest dealership is in Richmond, a good three hours away one way.

      But, for good and ill, my area is Yuppifying. We know have a BMW/Triumph (bike store) as well as a Jaguar-Land Rover-Porsche store….

  8. Here’s another “it’s really pretty,but” comment……really pretty is not even in the first three priorities when buying an SUV, or CUV or whatever it is.

    That type of vehicle should at least provide good acceleration (like the 6 cylinder BMW X3) to go with the “sporty” on road handling. And again, one has to wonder about CUVs being forced to act like sports cars. Like breeding Clydesdales to race at Santa Anita.

    Another irony….here is one of the “lightest” examples of its breed that manages to provide both inferior acceleration and mediocre mpg.

    I think Range Rover wandered a little too far off the trail with this one.

    • It’s partially one-upmanship.

      Last year, when the Evoque was new, it was quicker than the base X3 – which still had straight (non-turbo) six. Now it has a new (and stronger) turbo four – on-upping the Evoque.

      I expect LR will upgrade the Evoque next year – with either more power (standard or available) as well as more up-to-date eight-speed automatic.

      Still, even though the current model is not the quickest, it turns heads – while no one even glances at the X3.

      • It was announced in February that the 2014 Evoque will come with a 9-speed transmission from ZF. The 9HP is packaged so it is only 0.24 inches (6mm) longer and actually weighs 16.5 lbs (7.5kg) less than the outgoing six-speed transmission. The gearing and the functions to be had will provide both on-and off-road advantages as outlined in news reports. More benefits with less weight is a key Eric Peters design criteria!

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