First drive review of the updated Range Rover Evoque

K Shivraj | Roadtest | April 1, 2014
First drive review of the updated Range Rover Evoque

In a shade of deep shiny silver and black, the 2014 Range Rover Evoque looks stunning, especially riding on those 20-inch wheels. Standing tall on a narrow, twisty mountain road not very far from Pune, the 2014 Range Rover Evoque appears stylish. Its appearance as a five-door SUV marking a distinct departure from the traditional Land Rover styling. But that is how the Evoque has been for the last few years.

It shuns the big, boxy look of the Land Rover (and Range Rover) in favour of a sleek, raked back appearance. Aimed at younger buyers, this SUV packs a new, innovative and highly compact ZF 9-speed automatic transmission. It also packs an improved all-wheel-drive system with active differentials (the system slips into 2-wheel drive mode to help save fuel and returns to 4-wheel drive when needed).

Every bit a Land Rover despite its styling, the Evoque is structured on a rugged LR2-based chassis and suspension to take it further off-road than its exterior appearance might suggest, even the interiors for that matter.

The interior of the Evoque features excellent build quality, fine materials and pleasing aesthetics. Even on the lower-trim spec, the interior is nothing short of stunning, with soft touch materials, brushed aluminium trim and an automatic gear selector that rises out of the centre console.

The 190bhp, 2.2-litre SD4 turbo-diesel engine feels brawny. Take to a twisty mountain stretch and the SUV will carry itself quite eagerly on a light pedal. Push the pedal, and it will gather steam is a highly responsive manner. To eagerly rocket forward. A generous throw of torque, at 240Nm, is enough to take the SUV up the hill and through the tight bends without raising any doubt. Not even the brow for that matter.

The slick new transmission has an impact on the way the SUV drives. Over the earlier model generation, this one feels smoother; different amounts of throttle helping control what gear one is driving in. A light push of the pedal has the auto-box shifting as quickly as possible to save fuel. It would however kick down as quickly if the need for more power is felt. Dropping ratios with only a split-second delay.

The manual mode allows change of gear using the steering wheel mounted paddles. It’s easy to flick between third and fifth, ignoring the taller high gears. They come into their own at cruising speed. The new 9-speed auto-box has made the Evoque quicker and more fuel efficient. Capable of clocking 0-100kmph in a little over 8.5 seconds, the engine turns at lower revs at cruising speeds, further elevating the fuel efficiency. It also feels more relaxed and hushed up.

There’s a stiff edge to the ride, but not overly so. An odd bump could upset the big 20-inch wheels enough to make the occupants feel the change, the ride is just taut enough to allow the SUV to handle with firm precision. The steering is nicely weighted, but leaves one to expect some more feedback.

The basic Evoque 2.2-litre SD4 diesel is priced a shade under Rs 56 lakhs. The new, 9-speed gearbox marks a fine upgrade for a talented SUV. For those who are looking at exclusivity without losing sight of a compact, practical and fairly efficient SUV, the Evoque will fit the bill. It looks great inside and out, and has just got even peppier as well as efficient.

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