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Driving Impression: Range Rover Evoque Si4 Pure

4 January 2015

Land Rover recently added an entry-level model to the Evoque range. Can you tell the difference and, more importantly, does it still deserve to be called a Range Rover?

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 turned out but, in our defence, 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 motor manufacturer in history, it needed some guidance from a fashionable celebrity. That’s when Victoria Beckham stepped in to help.

Just think about that for a second. A fashionable, road biased SUV designed by the ex-Spice Girl 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 would buy any other model in the range.

It is, by far, the cheapest car with 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 almost 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 and, more importantly, nor will your neighbours.

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.

As far as off-roading is concerned, the Evoque is surprisingly capable. I say surprisingly, because the Evoque is understandably seen as a soft-roader, but after an off-road training session behind the wheel, 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 is more than up to the job of powering the Evoque and it emits a 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, the Evoque Pure 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. In my view, it’s the engine to have if you are considering buying an Evoque.

It’s hard to think of anything bad to say about this car. It is thoroughly enjoyable to drive and as desirable as ever.