By on March 12, 2012

Last May, I had the chance to drive the Range Rover Supercharged, the alpha dog of the Range Rover lineup. Though I was charmed by the incredible power and opulent cabin, I felt that the Range Rover was afflicted by a curse that affects many upper echelon vehicles – all the flash and features were spoilt by an underlying impracticality.

The Range Rover’s footprint was so large that it could have had its own branch of the Occupy movement, and its drinking problem was in league with Amy Winehouse. The Range Rover was conceived as a luxury vehicle to take you from your Scottish country estate to the theater and back again in total comfort, but lately, the Range Rover has been the mode of choice of wealthy urbanites, ignorant of the fact that the Range Rover’s original purpose was to serve double duty on one’s Scottish country estate as well as arriving in style at the theater. Living in in a dense, downtown core, the Range Rover was too large to quickly maneuver through traffic or parallel park with ease, and its truck roots made themselves known often.

The 21st century luxury SUV consumer may wear Barbour jackets (as an ironic fashion statement), but they’re far more likely to be an entrepreneur pitching their one-person marketing agency rather than living off an inheritance and setting off on fox hunts. Range Rover knows which way the wind is blowing it has adapted its formula accordingly with the Evoque. Gone is the big, boxy profile and the Jaguar derived V8 of the full-size Range Rover. The well-appointed cabin full of leather and aluminum remains, but the Evoque is compact, taut and futuristic looking, with a silhouette more like a MINI Countryman than a Defender 110. Sharing a platform with the Land Rover LR2 (which in turn is based on the Ford Mondeo), allows for the Evoque to opt for a much smaller form factor, and makes it the kind of vehicle you want for darting in and out of traffic, or parking in tight downtown spaces.

A transverse-mounted 2.0L turbocharged 4 cylinder (again, based off of Ford’s Ecoboost engine) makes 240 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque, mated to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. The Ecoboost is well-matched to the Evoque, with a broad torque band and minimal turbo lag, and the 6-speed automatic allows the Evoque cruise at a comfortably low rpm on the highway. Over 380 miles of mixed highway and city driving (and doing a steady 75 to 80 mph on the highway), the Evoque returned 24 mpg, 2 mpg better than the EPA rating. The Evoque’s demographic is likely to be the same type of person who doesn’t know if their BMW 128i is front or rear-wheel drive; the absence of a rugged track platform and V6 or V8 engine won’t bother them one bit. Despite its front-driver underpinnings, the Evoque still has a rudimentary all-wheel drive system, with classic Land Rover technologies like Hill Descent Control, but we’d give up Starbucks for a year if anybody took an Evoque on rougher terrain than a gravel driveway.

Inside, it’s clear to seasoned veterans that Land Rover (which operates the Range Rover brand as its “premium” line) has been dipping into the parts bin in a big way. The switchgear is an 80/20 mix of Land Rover and Volvo bits – hardly a bad thing, but the common usages were immediately apparent. A few Jaguar parts are included for good measure, such as the rotary shift knob that rises from the center console, and the touch-screen HVAC and audio control system, which is easy to operate and fairly intuitive. My litmus test involves asking a passenger to operate the iPod interface without any directions, and most cars tend to frustrate my guinea pigs. Not so with the Evoque, as multiple riders were able to easily and quickly navigate it without any annoyances.

The Evoque’s road manners were largely solid, but the combination of big wheels and low-profile tires, an unavoidable concession to the automotive aesthetics of our era, delivered a pretty harsh ride over less-than-perfect pavement. Road noise was kept in check much better than the ride quality, as engine sounds and wind noise were isolated from the cabin. The Evoque’s seats were especially comfortable on long jaunts, and the driving position was a good balance of both the “up high” SUV feeling that crossover buyers want, without the unnatural “lording over the commoners” stance that one finds in larger SUVs.

Such a small footprint does lend itself to some compromises. Rear seat comfort for two is fine up until the front seats are moved back to accommodate a driver or passenger over 6 feet – at that point things get a little cramped. Ditto for 3 passengers in the back. Cargo room was also diminished by the Evoque’s “evocative” styling. A grocery shop for two (at the local farmer’s market, natch) was fine, but trying to stow a full set of 15” snow tires was impossible. We ended up stuffing three in the small cargo area (which took some careful arranging) and rested one on the rear seat before the automatic tailgate would shut itself. The sloping roofline and small side windows are an obvious concession to form rather than function, and it was helpful to have the optional back-up camera on hand. To get the camera, buyers have to pony up another $1,900 for the “Vision Assist Package” or $4,000 for the “Premium Package”. Our Evoque Pure (yes, that’s the trim level) came out to $48,995 – roughly half the price of the Range Rover Supercharged we had last year. The base price of $43,995 is nearly $7,000 more than a BMW X3 xDrive28i, which seems to be the most appropriate competitor, given the X3’s turbo 4-cylinder engine and sporty nature. Other competitors, like the Volvo XC60, Mercedes-Benz GLK and Audi Q5 start closer to $35,000.

The main takeaway here is that the Evoque does everything that current Land Rover customers want – to look good, impress others, and have the satisfaction of owning a “luxury vehicle” – with only minimal drawbacks. Cargo space is reduced compares to the rest of the lineup, and rear seat comfort may not be the Evoque’s strong suit. On the other hand, the Evoque has style and presence in spades, and the overall packaging is unique, fairly practical and well-engineered (thanks in part to pilfering from other automakers). For childless young professionals, empty nesters or dog owners, the Evoque will be more than adequate, with better fuel economy and a smaller footprint than the full-fat Range Rover. For the supremely insecure, the thought of driving the “cheap” Range Rover may be paralyzing, but an informal survey of people during our photoshoot suggests that the Evoque draws a lot of positive attention from bystanders, more so than the ubiquitous black Range Rover Supercharged that so many bad drivers tend to favor in this town. Even though it is more expensive (and, for some, less practical) than the aforementioned competitors, Land Rover will sell every single Evoque they can make – and with the LR2 platform already paid off, the Evoque should be a cash cow for the brand, as well as parent company Tata.

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54 Comments on “Review: 2012 Range Rover Evoque...”

  • avatar

    Really enjoyed reading that. Good review.

    Some interesting times at JLR. Everyday we seem to be reading about something new. For instance they have 1 engine plant under construction in the UK and are lining up another in India. They have a smaller Freelander type vehicle rumoured to be in the works as well as a mid sized Range Rover, styled after the Evoque. They have also just admited that they are working on a range of non premium SUV’s for the developing world and a Jaguar crossover is in the works.

    Then there is the small jags in the pipeline, the 2 sports cars they are working on and this new brand they intend to launch in China with Chery. All that and they are still making over a billion pounds a year in profit.

    Someone got something badly wrong at Ford when they made the decision to sell. Given they have the biggest profit margins of all the premium car makers in this space then you really have to wonder how Ford got this so wrong!

    • 0 avatar

      It stands to reason that part of the development work on current Jaguar/Land Rover vehicles was already underway when ford sold them off. Ford lost the stomach for “premium” brands when it was struggling to stay solvent, and the sale of these brands has helped to pay for fords recovery and stem the tide of red ink. Tata is reaping the rewards of what ford started, but they also seem to be intent on keeping up the forward momentum by continuing to invest wisely in their brands.

      • 0 avatar

        Redliner is on the money. Jaguar’s current line up (XF, XK, XJ) was penned and developed under Ford.

        That being said, as far as luxury brands go, globally Jaguar has more cachet in its little finger than Lincoln does in its entire body and from what I’ve seen coming out of Lincoln that will not change anytime soon.

    • 0 avatar

      A good review indeed. The young Mr Kreindler has come a long way since the early “game-changer” incident!

      My grammar nit of the day, though, is the use of “based off of” rather than the grammatically correct “based on”.

    • 0 avatar

      This vehicle makes me sick to my stomach, and although I know it’s supremely unfair, I’ll reflexively think of anyone behind the wheel of one as a a form-over-substance douchebag/douchebaggess.

      Then again, that’s probably true of most of the vehicles in this segment, and it’s not my money these people are spending on their impractical, overpriced, badge-centered fashion accessories, so good luck and God Speed.

      And just a caveat: I could afford a far more expensive vehicle as this, but am happy with a far more purpose built (and worthy of it) vehicle that costs approximately 1/2 as much, and in fact, I can think of at least 3 new vehicles that cost 30% less that are superior in every way, and about 12 slightly used ones that the same can be said of that cost 50% to 60% less.

  • avatar

    I cannot imagine that anyone actually likes the way this thing looks. And to nearly remove the back window and then charge 1900 large for a “vision assist package” deserves a degree in advanced hubris. But as you said, the intended audience could care less. I do not look forward to seeing these things around. I wish they offered a “total invisability package”.

    • 0 avatar

      The more I see this car, the more I think it’s had too many facelifts. It isn’t any wonder why Top Gear had James May carting a Cher look-alike around in it.

    • 0 avatar

      I love the way this looks. I’ve liked it since the first shots appeared. It looks even more amazing in real life. Unfortunately, the cheapest ones available locally are all over $50,000. I’d buy one in a second (reliability be damned) if it were $10,000 cheaper.

    • 0 avatar

      I never understood how people can disagree on the same vehicle. In the last week TTAC has shown pictures of the Aventador, SRX, and the Evoque, and there’s been venom spit at such beautiful industrial design.

      Except the Bentley EXP. There seems to be universal contempt for that vehicle, myself included.

  • avatar

    Why are they calling this a “RANGE Rover” and not a “Land Rover Evoque”? This is no Range Rover. It’s a CUV meant to attract attention to its occupants (in a positive or negative way, you decide) that happens to be sold by Land Rover dealers.

    • 0 avatar

      Wouldn’t being nothing more than a cry for attention give it more in common with a Range Rover than a Land Rover? Give the people what they want, which is cheaper prestige with their similarly addled peers.

    • 0 avatar

      I think they’re vaguely trying to spin Range Rover as a separate brand, something more stylish (at least relatively) than Land Rovers. It probably works better in the international market, where the LR2 and LR4 (Freelander and Discovery, if you prefer) can be had in a more utilitarian spec.

  • avatar
    Franz K

    Well , well . well TTAC . Guess what ? Spent a few days in an Evoque myself . My conclusions ?

    #1 Its FORD platform reveals itself quickly , within 50 miles of the initial drive ( just think ; a mere $49K for a Ford Focus in Range/Land Rover drag )

    #2 The Blind Spots in this thing are horrific

    #3 Calling it a parts bin car is in fact a compliment . More like a pile of what ever was laying around the shop at the time

    #4 Using the words ‘ Premium ‘ and ‘ Evoque’ in the same sentence is in fact an Oxymoron

    Sum up ? X3 Q5 GLK FX35 ( or the EX ) almost anything in its class , save the SRX would be a better choice for the money . Well ….. not the XC60 , which is another FORD platform in Volvo drag … and a total Drag to drive ZZzzzzzzzzzzz

    • 0 avatar

      My folks have an XC60 T6. It is far from “a drag” to drive.

    • 0 avatar

      I would actually take an SRX over this. Mind you I’d take it to Detroit so it would get stolen and I could use the insurance money to buy something less awful.

      • 0 avatar

        You started with a positive comment, but couldn`t resist to go negative. I don`t think I have ever seen you make a positive (rather than neutral or negative) comment on anything but certain Asian manufacturers.

    • 0 avatar

      Wow…A review from some venomous troll.

      Good thing absolutely nobody cares about your conclusion.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Gordon

      “#1 Its FORD platform reveals itself quickly , within 50 miles of the initial drive ( just think ; a mere $49K for a Ford Focus in Range/Land Rover drag )”

      In what sense? Is that meant as a pejorative or a compliment? For what it is worth the Ford Focus (rather random of you to mention that since the Evoque is based on the Freelander 2 which is based more or less on the Mondeo. not sure where the Focus comes in) and the mondeo actually have rather nicely set-up chassis. With respect to it being based on something else, well every Land-Rover model ever built can trace it’s origin to a family sedan (saloon), so that’s hardly a valid criticism per se.

      “#4 Using the words ‘ Premium ‘ and ‘ Evoque’ in the same sentence is in fact an Oxymoron ”

      Not really. An oxymoron is a juxtaposition of contradictory terms. The case in point we have ‘premium’ and ‘evoque’. The meaning of ‘premium’ is self evident, whilst ‘Evoque’ is French and simply means ‘Evoke’. So the name could therefore be interpretted as evoking a sense that this is a premium product.

      Now the name itself may be an inaccurate description of the nature of the product and then of course there is the issue of whether it is valid to mix languages like this. However the name is not oxymoronic.

      For what it matters, I happen to believe ‘Premium’ to be an apt appellation for this vehicle since it holds a premium position relative to it’s competitors (as describe in the article) by the common metric of price.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not a fan of the SRX, although I can’t say I dislike it given the competition (it’s one of the better looking vehicles and now has a right-sized motor), but I’d rather have the SRX than this cobbled together fashion accessory of a vehicle using TATA spare parts any day of the week.

    • 0 avatar

      Shame it was 2011 car of the year with most respectable car authorities then hey?

  • avatar

    It is interesting to see Ford’s latest tech underpin new models from Land Rover, Jag and Volvo – owned by the Indians and Chinese, yet GM can’t see its way clear to do the same for Saab.

  • avatar

    Surprisingly, it’s not that bad off road either if you take a look at James May driving it through a rough bit of Nevada:
    Other than that, I kind of like the look of the vehicle. It’s sharp looking, SUV-ee and unmistakably a Range Rover. It’s also a financially sound move by Tata to use a whole heap of paid for technology to mechanically underpin the thing.
    My only concern is that now there is a Range Rover that any bling-riddled fashionista can afford (much like the Freelander in Europe), it will help spawn even more money and image obsessed pillocks.

  • avatar

    I expect to see many of these on sorority row very soon.

  • avatar

    there there – was that so hard? – : )

  • avatar

    There was one of these in front of me last Saturday night. It had ‘DST’ plates which in California is ‘distributor.’

    There are two red lenses (see the pic of the rear of the vehicle) in the lower part of the bumper. Those are lamps that are wired and light up. Constantly. They’re incredibly bright and if you are behind it in a ‘normal’ sedan, they will completely blind you. If you’re in a sports car, it’ll be even worse.

    I couldn’t look straight ahead without being totally blinded with the brightness of the lamps blasting back at me. It maybe a safety feature for a driver of an Evoque, but it’s going to be hell on anybody behind them, unless they’re in a SUV themselves. Note: don’t ever drive behind an Evoque at night unless you wear sunglasses or drive a SUV.

  • avatar

    I must confess that I don’t like the look of this, and I dislike it even more in person. It’s so hyper-stylized that I honestly think it’s one of the silliest looking vehicles on the road (and that’s coming from someone who likes the Juke!).

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed, plus I think it sets a new record for highest rear window (base), it looks like you wouldn’t see a Mini parked behind you.

    • 0 avatar

      Nope, it’s a thousand times better-looking than the Juke. Quite silly-looking, sure, but in a kinda cute way, whereas the Juke is just bloody awful any which way you cut it.

      My, my, our tastes differ — so yours must be wrong! :-)

  • avatar
    word is bond

    Think I’d still rather have a regular range with a tailgate – dont really get the Supercharged.

  • avatar

    So near $50k for what? Prestige, image? Sure as hell can’t be the standard engine, drivetrain, and platform that is similar to a $30k Explorer.

    Sorry, I’m seeing the vehicle for what’s behind the badge. Yes idiots well buy them up, well love them, and Land Rover is going to make some good money off of them. I see how Land Rover is looking at it, what I don’t get is how people can be so stupid to pay more money for that.

    And yeah, I have a few Barbour coats myself, and I do drive a SUV. But that’s a Jeep with a turbo diesel, a 2spd transfer case, that still has heated leather seats, and was about $20k cheaper (when new) then that thing. Hell for that kind of money I’ll get a fully-loaded Grand Cherokee and get way more vehicle for my money. If I wanted a Evoque, I’d buy a Explorer.

    • 0 avatar

      You mad?

    • 0 avatar

      People who own Estates don’t drive Jeeps.

      While Land Rover did bring the Range Rover to the US market for the obvious reasons of its sheer market size, these cars are primarily designed for wealthy Europeans who own horses and large Estates, not suburban Americans,rappers and others who are nothing like the formerly mentioned.

      The people in the UK who buy Range Rovers would never be seen dead in a Jeep,Chevy or any american made ‘truck’.

  • avatar

    I’m NOT a fan of this car, but there are some false rumors about the platform.

    It is not based on the Focus. The EUCD platform it rides on is larger and used for the European Mondeo and a few Volvos (I’ll get to that). The 2013 Fusion will use the next version of this platform. The Focus, on the other hand, uses the “Global C” platform.

    It is not related to the Explorer, either. Some people think that since the Evoque is related to some Volvos, and the Ford Explorer uses a platform originally designed by Volvo, the Evoque is related to the Explorer. Nope. The Explorer’s platform is a derivative of the 1999-2006 S80, but NOT the current one. Current S80 is EUCD. The only current Volvo related to the Explorer is the XC90, which would have been replaced by now (presumably put on EUCD) if Volvo hadn’t been sold to Geely.

    Yes, the XC60 is indeed related to the Evoque.

    So, in conclusion:

    EUCD: Evoque, XC60, Mondeo, 2007+ S80, 2011+ S60
    P2/D3/D4: XC90, large North American Fords (i.e. Taurus, Explorer), 1999-2006 S80
    Global C: Focus, C-Max, next Escape

    No relation between the three platforms that I know of.

  • avatar

    No comments on the legendary (lack of) reliability of this new vehicle’s stablemates? I have to wonder how stylish it’ll look when on the back of a flatbed, being towed to a dealer 80 miles away.

    • 0 avatar

      Really? Is the Earth still flat?
      You might want to do a bit of research on service issues with Range Rover before hanging onto this old tired adage that you overheard your friend saying ‘Range Rovers are unreliable’.

      The build quality on these is matched only by vehicles made in Europe nowhere else.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s not much of a benchmark. Ask around here about the reliability of Mercs and BMWs and VWs and Audis and you’re sure to hear a completely different story than what you hear in Europe.

        Maybe we just get sent the crap cars but Consumer Reports’ reliability surveys are a pretty good baseline to determine real, not perceived, reliability. And Range Rovers are often amongst the worst overall. In fact, they placed very near last in the last reliability survey I remember reading in Top Gear UK.

        Unlike Britain and Europe, Japanese and Korean names are popular here and their reliability well outshines anything Europe and the UK have to offer. These cars may be boring and soulless but the reliability sells to the masses.

        If it makes you feel better I did see a whopping two RRs last month, an LR2 and LR4 and both were running under their own power. For a change. :)

    • 0 avatar

      Since when is an LR2 or LR4 a Range Rover?

  • avatar

    Derek writes: “…the rotary shift knob that rises from the center console…”

    I have of course read about this when it debuted on the Jag; think I even saw it once, when I was given a ride by a mate. But it only just struck me as I read this — probably because there have been posts about user interfaces and backup cameras and HUDs and stuff here on TTaC over the last week or so — isn’t it pretty confusing, and therefore dangerous, that this shifter thingy looks and works just like an iDrive / COMAND / MMI controller thingy?

    Tooling down the Autobahn at 160 km/h / the Interstate at 100 mph, thinking “Now I’ll switch to another channel on the radio”, throwing the tranny into P or R instead… Not a good thing, is it?

    • 0 avatar

      CRConrad do you really believe that a $80k car like this full of electronic wizardry will let you try and engage reverse when doing 100mph in a forward gear?

      No answer required.

  • avatar

    gimme a JEEP Grand Cherokee…THANKS…

  • avatar

    entertaining this review may be – but as a consumer trying to make up my mind – i miss how this vehicle stacks up against close competitors, x3, q5 etc – pros & cons over those – and other similar vehicle like station wagons

    • 0 avatar

      I was in the market for a second car. A small sporty SUV. I drove the Evoque, the X3, X5, the Q5 and the GLK. Not to mention a bunch of other non luxury cars, like the Ford Edge and the Acura RDX. At first Range Rover wasn’t even a blip on my radar because the larger RR’s that my friends own steer like sea barges. I was leaning towards the Q5 2.0 or X5 diesel, and did not like anything about the X3. The GLK didn’t appeal to me at all. When I saw the Evoque, I fell in love with it and took it for a test drive over three consecutive weekends.

      In my opinion, the exterior is fantastic and the interior blows everything else away. The engine sound is on par with the Audi. I heard people on various boards claim that the engine was buzzy. While it’s no Aston Martin, I couldn’t find any difference in NVH between the Audi 4cyl and the Evoque 4cyl.

      Anyway, I bought the Evoque. Given the price, it wasn’t completely rational. But I just didn’t feel as strongly about the Audi as I did the Evoque. So far I love it. The rear pillar blind spots are considerable, so I did get the full camera and blind spot package. Call me trendy, that may be true because I think most cars today are completely dull and common. And I am completely happy with the Evoque.

      • 0 avatar

        Hifi, I’m pretty close to making a decision on an Evoque. What has been your experience with reliability so far (my only concern on the vehicle).
        As a 1st model year buyer of a Touareg, I’m still smarting from the repair costs on this. My wife’s Q5 is very nice and solid, but I like the Evoque’s looks a little better.

  • avatar

    Its harsh to say but most Americans just don’t understand Range Rover.
    Its a classist and British thing.

  • avatar

    I’ve had the Evoque less than a day and I absolutely love it. i am with Hifi on this…it was not a rational decision…it was love at first sight. I bought it for my wife, but got the chance to drive it home (about 60 miles) and have no complaints. The ride was good, the car was zippy and at 6’2″ and 250 lbs I was very comfortable in the front. The passanger behind me was good too.

    A lot of people commenting here seem to be missing the point of something like Range Rover (Evoque or otherwise) and expensive cars in general. These are never a “need”, these are always a “want”. Yes, my wife needed a new car, but she wanted an Evoque…we both did. Is it a bit for show…absolutely, but why not show off a little.

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