Written by: Don Cheng
Photography by: Don Cheng
The Evoque has always been a bit of a controversial vehicle for Jaguar Land Rover. Based on the platform from the LR2 (of which 90% has been reworked), the Evoque differs by offering a more lavish cabin and a premium brand experience. However when the LR2 was axed, many thought the Evoque wouldn’t be able to fill the shoes that the former had left behind.
Many equated the Evoque to a softening of the Range Rover marquee. It was the baby in the lineup, offered a tiny four-cylinder engine and plasticky interior materials you could find in a base Land Rover. But a lot has changed since the SUV's initial launch and with a few exterior updates, the Evoque might finally be worthy of the brand it represents.
In fact, I’ve always loved the look of the Evoque. The super flared-out wheel arches look just about ready to stretch out of the car, and the classic Range Rover lettering sprawled across the hood drag your eyes towards two narrowing slits for headlamps on either sides. The entire front fascia looks incredibly aggressive, and the two fog lights only add to that effect. As the old adage goes “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” and for 2016, Land Rover has left the front end of the Evoque largely unchanged.
The few changes include a new grille (for top-spec models), and daytime running lights that wrap around the outline of the headlamps. The full LED light treatment has also been applied to the taillamps. In addition, the Evoque receives a new roof spoiler and dual shark fin antennae (that look like Batman’s ears). Looking absolutely killer in Santorini Black Metallic, the Evoque’s styling simply can’t be faulted.
The interior is a similar story too. The 8-inch InControl Touch infotainment system has been introduced in the Evoque this year but to be frank, it is one of the least responsive systems I have ever encountered in any car this year. It takes a solid two seconds (believe me, I timed it) for the heated seat options to pop up after you press the button.
It would have been fantastic if the Evoque used the same climate controls as the new Jaguars and Range Rovers (a simple press of the climate knob switches the adjustment to the strength of the heated seats). But even with the unwieldy infotainment system, the Evoque is a remarkably pleasant place to be in.
The large panoramic moonroof – which to our dismay, does not tilt nor slide back – gives the illusion that you’re in a much larger car. The cabin’s build quality is deserving of the Range Rover title bequeathed to it. Every possible surface is covered in leather, aluminum, wood, or soft touch plastic. The seats are supportive and although the massage feature isn’t as firm and kneading as other competitors, it’s still a luxurious experience that makes you feel like you’re in a car double the price. Land Rover has addressed some concerns about the cabin insulation too as the car feels a lot quieter than previous years.
The baby Range’s powertrain remains unchanged for 2016. The direct injected turbo-four pushes 240 hp @ 5,500 rpm and 250 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750 rpm. Despite the bigger Ranges packing supercharged six and eight cylinder engines, the turbo-four still manages to propel the Evoque from 0-100 km/h in the same time it takes its brothers.
The smaller chassis and significant weight savings help make short work of getting up to speed in the city and the 9-speed gearbox cycled through the gears almost imperceptibly. The one caveat is when you plant your foot down. Asking the car for more power felt like something straight from Oliver Twist:
“Please Range Rover, may I have some more?”
For all the creamy goodness that the 9-speed provides in the city, the excessively-cogged gearbox struggles when pushed for more power on the highway. Reluctant to downshift, it cycles through the gears lethargically. The entire experience made highway passing an exercise that requires careful planning, and depending on your locale, some prior military strategy experience.
When the transmission does pick up though, it’s a pretty quick car and handles surprisingly well too. The steering wheel is well weighted and connected, the short wheelbase offers a nimble ride, and the suspension eats up uneven road surfaces, providing a firm but not overly undampened ride.
Despite a focus on comfort and style, the Evoque hasn’t forgotten about its off-roading roots. To that effect, the car comes loaded with Land Rover’s Terrain Response system as well as Active Driveline 4WD. The latter of which assists in keeping fuel economy in check by decoupling 4WD until it detects slip – at which point the system can re-engage 4WD in 300 milliseconds. Terrain Response on the other hand adjusts the throttle input, power distribution, and suspension settings. It’s a welcome feature that I couldn't live without during the first blizzard of the winter season.
The snowfall hit when I was roaming Toronto late in the evening. Putting the Terrain Response system in “Grass/Gravel/Snow” allowed for the Evoque to successfully crawl through the large sweeping and banking turns of the Don Valley Parkway with surefootedness. Unfortunately, my tester still had all-seasons equipped - no winter tires present. Regardless, I could feel the systems working to keep the Evoque in check and the car performed admirably, navigating between cars slipping and sliding on the highway.
At an as-tested price of $66,340, the Range Rover Evoque certainly is not the cheapest entry-level compact SUV on the lot. Its primary competitors, the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3, start $5,000 less but add in some options and both German rivals quickly rack up the dollar bills to over $60,000. No doubt, these SUVs are great alternatives for suburban mommies and daddies. But for those who want a vehicle with a broader resume with urban and off-roading capabilities, you’d be hard pressed to find another vehicle as well rounded as this baby Range.
型号 Model: 2016 Range Rover Evoque HSE Si4
顏色 Paint Type: Santorini Black Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $49,990
試車售價 Price as Tested: $66,340
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,660
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,371 / 2,090 / 1,635
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,670
引擎 Engine: 2.0L Si4 turbocharged four-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 240 hp @ 5,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 250 lb-ft @ 1,750 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 9-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, 4WD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 11.3 / 7.9 / 9.7
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 11.2
輪胎尺碼 Tires: GoodYear Efficient Grip; P235/55R19