The Range Rover Evoque will always be remembered as the car that caught motoring journalists completely off guard.
We simply weren’t expecting it to be as good as it actually turned out, but, in our defense, it had quite a few things counting against it.
It was Land Rover’s first attempt at building a Fashionable Utility Vehicle (FUV) and since it’s probably the least fashionable manufacturer in history, it needed some guidance from a fashionable celebrity. That’s when Victoria Beckham, previously known as some sort of spice, stepped in to help.
Just think about that for a second. A fashionable, road biased SUV designed by the wife of a soccer player and built by the same people who gave the world the Defender. It shouldn’t have worked.
But it did. The Evoque is a brilliant car and the new “Pure” is perhaps the best model to date. The Pure serves as the entry-level model, but after a week in its company, I was left wondering why you’d buy any other model in the range.
It is, by far, the cheapest way into a car wearing the famed “Range Rover” letters on the bonnet. Don’t think, however, that this makes it any less of a Range Rover.
The Pure Si4 we had on test retails at a relatively modest R627 890 and for that you get everything one could want in a luxury vehicle. In fact, it’s hard to tell where Land Rover cut costs, because you still get a 380 Watt Meridian sound system with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, keyless entry, a touch-screen display, park distance control and leather clad seats and steering wheel. It feels everything but entry-level in there.
Exterior wise it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between the Pure and more expensive models. It gets its own unique set of alloys and a black badge, but that’s about it. You won’t even notice the differences, but more importantly, your neighbours won’t be able to either.
The ride is as refined as ever. The Evoque Pure is as good at gliding as it is at tackling a series of corners. The cabin is well insulated and the result is a quiet and effortless driving experience, no matter what substance you’re driving on.
As far as off-roading is concerned, the Evoque is surprisingly capable. I say surprising, because the Evoque is understandably seen as a soft-roader, but after a off-road training session behind the wheel of one of these things, I can tell you that it’s far more capable when the going gets tough than any soft-roader has the right to be.
Our test unit made use of Land Rover’s four-cylinder turbocharged petrol powertrain, which delivers 177kW and 340Nm of torque. It’s more than up to the job of powering the Evoque and it emits a surprisingly delightful tone when you push it a bit.
The job of swapping cogs is left to an all-new nine-speed automatic gearbox, which is the first of its kind in SA.
Land Rover says this new gearbox gives enhanced performance, thanks to a wider spread of ratios, and I’m inclined to agree. It responds very quickly and shifts seamlessly through all nine gears. At the end of its week in my hands, it returned a fuel consumption figure of 10,1 l/100km, which isn’t bad at all.
Still, the turbocharged diesel model is almost as fast and consumption figures are much, much better. It is, in my opinion, still the engine to have if you’re looking at buying an Evoque.
It’s hard to think of anything bad to say about this car. It is thoroughly enjoyable and still as desirable as ever.