When Maurice Wilks, a design engineer at the Rover Car Co., drew an outline for a jeep-like utility vehicle on a beach in Anglesey, north Wales, he probably didn’t realize the iconic brand it would create. That vehicle—designed for English farmers—was the Range Rover, and 64 years on, it is one of the most sought after sports utility brands worldwide.
The newest iteration of the Range Rover story from Land Rover is the Evoque, expected to launch in India in November. It’s the smallest Ranger yet, but is still just as premium as its larger siblings, if not more! And indeed what’s great about this car is that despite being very different, there are certain characteristics that shine through as Range Rover. This includes the typical badging up front on the hood, the front grille and, thankfully, also the driving characteristics.
Premium: Expect the Evoque to be priced above Rs 40 lakh in India
In terms of looks, the Evoque has the kind of design that stops you dead in your tracks. Extreme, sexy and modern, yet maintaining a traditional SUV silhouette, the Evoque is every bit the modern, eye-catching design masterpiece. But to be a Range Rover, it doesn’t necessarily need to be beautiful. It also needs to be rugged, hardy, and able to go anywhere. And that is exactly what I did. I drove from Anglesey to Liverpool a few days ago. It was a good test of the car’s capabilities, since I got the chance to not only drive on the highways and twisty country roads, but also go off the map into some reasonably intense countryside. The constant and typical English rain meant slush galore—which only helped test the vehicle better.
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For starters, the grassy meadows on the Anglesey island provided me the opportunity to try the grass and gravel setting on the Evoque’s standard Terrain Response function, which can be switched on the fly, as it can in the other Land Rovers. This is basically the vehicle’s chassis, brakes, power delivery, transmission and suspension settings, to allow better response to varying surfaces and traction situations. Other settings are dynamic, for sporty driving, mud and ruts, for, well, mud and ruts, and sand— again, the name needs no explaining. The Evoque also has optional Magnaride, a system that essentially allows for the car’s damper settings to be variable, depending on the driving surface—by using magnetic fluid in the shock absorbers. This variation affords you a comfortable ride quality without compromising on stiffness or vehicle dynamics.
The Evoque has two engine options—a 2.2-litre diesel and a 2-litre petrol. Both are reasonably fun and spirited. But given the positioning of the car and its claims, I expected a punchier, more fun diesel—like Audi offers in its 2-litre diesel on the new Q3. Having said that, both engines should not disappoint most buyers. The optional six-speed automatic transmission is also smooth, and has effective steering mounted paddle shifters too.
Besides all this, the Evoque comes loaded with all sorts of goodies—some seen before in other Land Rovers and Jaguars—like the dual-view screen on the central console, which allows the driver and passenger to see different outputs. This is, of course, integrated with the Meridian audio system, which has 11 and 17 speaker options. It also has Bluetooth phone connectivity. The panoramic sunroof, LED and Xenon combination headlamps, cruise control, and the aforementioned Terrain Response, will be standard on the Indian Evoque.
Expect prices in India to stay above Rs 40 lakh though. This is primarily because Jaguar Land Rover will be importing these completely built—and fully loaded. So unlike the UK, where the car starts at about £29,000 (Rs 21.78 lakh), in India it won’t be pitted against the BMW X1 or the upcoming Audi Q3. The consumer may not see it that way, unfortunately, since at these price points, the Evoque will have to compete with the larger BMW X3 and Audi Q5.
Siddharth Vinayak Patankar is Editor (Auto), NDTV.
Write to Siddharth at email@example.com