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Quick Drive: 2012 Range Rover Evoque

Kamil Kaluski February 22, 2012 Featured, First Impressions 40 Comments

I am just going to come out and say it now, only because you hoons will find out about it soon enough. I love Land Rovers. My father is a 4×4 guy and he has been telling me how great these are since I was about zero. I spent six weeks in a D110 Wagon (TD5) driving around South Africa. I once almost bought a rusted D90. I once almost bought a $2000 ’89 Range Rover. I once almost bought a Discovery with cracked cylinder heads. There is not justifiable explanation for my lust with these vehicles, so just accept it. And don’t judge me.

When I learned of the new Evoque I was a bit skeptical however. The Freelander’s failure (trivia: the USDM V6 Freelander has three timing belts) hovered in the back of mind along with the off-road ability of most FWD-based crossovers. The reviews were fantastic however! Truck of the year this, Best of that, Top 40 here, all gleaming positive reviews. Last weekend I got to drive one very briefly and… I was completely disappointed!

Outside, it is what it is. Some will say it’s over-styled, some will say it’s stylish, some will say it’s beautiful, some won’t. Everyone has an opinion on looks so I won’t touch that. I’ll just stick to the facts that one can gather from a quick drive in the new Evoque. In my case I drove the two-door-ish coupe-ish shooting-break-ish three-door-ish hatch-y wagon-y version.

One of things I love about the big Land Rovers is the commanding view of the road; big windows, low beltline, high sitting position. In the Evoque you don’t get any of that. You’re surrounded my small windows which get smaller toward the rear. The only car that has worse windows is the Camaro. Rear visibility is similar to that of a Lotus Evora; about a 4”x6” rectangle.

The seats are comfortable, offering much more side bolstering than any Land Rover in history. Steering wheel is rather large and thin, with two big gauges and a typical info screen behind it. Borrowed from Jaguar is a round pop-up it’s-not-a-shifter shifter with buttons for terrain control near it. The terrain control uses the vehicle’s AWD and stability control system to distribute the power to the proper wheel. There is also a hill ascent control.

Seating gets worse in the back, which has one inch less headroom than that four/five-door version. Assuming you’re an adult that can get into the rear of the coupe, you won’t have much leg room once you get there. And then you’ll have difficulty getting out. That seat is best for kids who have outgrown car-seats and can buckle themselves in but are not too tall yet to be uncomfortable. In short, if you’re planning on having people back there get the 4/5-door.

On the positive side, the little four-cylinder turbo feels peppy and torque-y, at least around town (I did not get a chance to drive it on the highway). Overall the vehicle can be best described as zippy and fun to drive, perhaps a first for a Land Rover vehicle. With a sub-3900lb curb weight, this allows for an 18/28 EPA gas mileage, making it the least thirsty Land Rover in history too.

I think the Evoque will attract new customers to the Land Rover dealership. These will be people who have never considered a Land Rover before. They will be lured in by the brand image, the like-nothing-else styling, and Posh Spice’s approval. They will overlook the vehicle’s short-comings, and they will buy them as fast as Land Rover can produce them. This vehicle will be a hit wherever go-getting style-conscious upper-middle class yuppies live.

  • Fester812

    Here's what I would have liked to have seen: the whole thing exactly like it is from the front bumper to the back of the doors, and then the rear half put together more like a Defender – spartan and utilitarian.

    Flat floor, flat unfinished aluminum side panels, maybe an outdoor carpet floormat at most.

    And in the coupe, the backseat should be all about folding into as small a space as possible, leaving a large, cuboid, unsoilably rugged cargo area.

    That would redeem the softness of the rest of the vehicle. A luxury coupe you can still haul some dirty toys in the back of without staining it's fine appointments.

    It should be part GT (a British classic), part Jeep Cherokee two door…

    Instead it just seems like a Mercedes CLC type car comically dropped onto a 4×4 frame.

    Then again, I guess I'm probably the only person who would use such a car to haul around greasy scooter parts…

    • Thebloody323

      For the price of this you can get yourself a nicely appointed LR4. I love my Disco II and it's got plenty of room to haul all my dirty toys around.

  • RegalRegalia

    So basically if the roof line didn't descend so sharply and the wheelbase had a couple extra inches you'd like it?

    • I would probably dislike it less. 🙂

  • PotbellyJoe

    The All-new Mall Rover Evoque. It's the car your Twilight-loving wife has been wanting ever since she was told to love it!

    • RegalRegalia

      H8RZ gone B H8N, yo.

      • PotbellyJoe

        I like Land Rover. I just like Land Rovers though. Not this. I get that it will sell. So did the Porsche Cayenne. And I understand you have to sell to make any money. I just wish the average yuppie wasn't so yup-tastically awful in their taste of vehicles.

        • RegalRegalia

          Gotta snidely ask, have you looked at their products from the past decade? This is the cherry on a sundae long in the making.

          • PotbellyJoe

            Unfortunately, yes. I have watched them tumble down an incline they used to traverse with ease…

            • They still make it up that incline, just FYI… The cars are as capable as they always were, it's just now the floor is covered in plush carpeting.

              I'd love to see a top-tier RR SC, with some of the luxury options removed, and replaced with actual bits friendly to those going off road.

              • Thebloody323

                After getting my 04 Disco II, I was amazed by the small nuances LR added to make the vehicle a fantastic 4×4. Having the engine coolant run through the throttle body to keep it from freezing open is just one of them and the only reason I found it was because it started leaking (in true Rover fashion) :D.

            • Thebloody323

              That's only because the hill decent keeps crapping out. Stupid 3 amigo's.

          • Thebloody323

            No this isn't the cherry on the sundae, the DC100 is going to take that top honour.

  • RegalRegalia

    I think it'd take a bigger vehicle to have both comfortable back seats and have them fold that tight. If you haven't seen James May's TG review, seek it out, its pretty revealing of the compromises and the strengths of the car.

  • PowerTryp

    "This vehicle will be a hit wherever go-getting style-conscious upper-middle class yuppies live." AWWWWW CRAP!

    • Kamil is right, I've only seen #ballin Asian dudes with big sunglasses, buzzed heads, and diamond earrings behind the wheel. These guys are as likely to off-road as they are to shop at Old Navy.

  • FЯeeMan

    This vehicle will be a hit wherever go-getting style-conscious upper-middle class yuppies live.

    Damning with faint praise brought to a level of artistry not often seen 'round these parts.

    My thoughts on this, as well.

  • I do enjoy the styling. I saw a white one at Costco, and was pretty impressed by it. Not my first choice in luxoSUV, but it is easy on the eyes.

  • pj134

    I have a feeling it will be very FJ Cruiser like in sales. Start out pretty well, have a solid, stable second year and then OHMYGODWHY IS THERE NO FLOOR UNDER US!?

    • A shame, as I like the FJ and it's destined to become a sought after classic 20-30 years from now.

      • pj134

        I liked it until I drove it. The lack of visibility and rear seat with similar space to a small 2+2 do not help its cause. The fact that the JK Wrangler came out the same year and offered a true 4 door and a true 2 door instead of an awkward in between didn't help it.

        • CJinSD

          I like most things about the FJ, but won't buy one because of the vertical windshields that are often broken by pebbles on the highway and cost a fortune to replace each time. Mini Coopers have the same problem to a lesser extent.

  • I have no use for 90% of vehicles out there, this included.

    That said, I'm happier to see some interesting styling on a crossovercoupeutilitymabob than just another blobby station wagon with a lift kit.

    Hopefully (like Porsche), they can translate poseur-derived profits into more badass hardcore offerings.

    • Plus, this thing actually isn't terrible when away from the asphalt.

      James May drove one through the desert in California, and was surprised with how well it behaved.

      • jeepjeff

        Yeah, the Evoque is about a thousand times more capable than a Compass. Also, where the Compass is the answer to a question that doesn't exist, the Evoque is the answer to a question, one which James May provided us in that very same bit. What is the best vehicle to use for chauffeuring a transvestite Cher impersonator around Las Vegas?

        In other words, it's going to be a hit with the taste-free late-20s, early-30s yuppies who still remember the Spice Girls. We're going to be drowning in them in California any minute now.

        • Absolutely… I'm actually surprised I've only seen one or two. In Vegas last week, I saw at least 6 in three days!

          • jeepjeff

            Maybe Vegas got dibs on the first shipments because they have more transvestite Cher impersonators, and thus a greater need?

            (I still haven't seen one in the Bay Area, but it's only a matter of time.)

        • Maymar

          Hey, at least the Compass got pseudo low-range for '11, making it one of the more capable vehicles on the market (of course, in a market of mostly crossovers, that's praise so faint, you can't see it on an overcast day).

      • James May maybe biased toward British car. Just sayin'…

        • Slightly biased. Maybe.

          • jeepjeff

            Maybe, but I think they were ready to totally pan it. It is kind of an affront to Land Rover's roots. I even think they set the bit up with that in mind, but it was just a better car than they expected, even if it did have trouble with some more hardcore bits of trail.

  • Maymar

    On an irrelevant note, who knew the LR2 used an I6 in place of that horrendous V6 the Freelander was inititally sent over with? I had no idea until flipping through the brochure this weekend, and now I really want an LR2, almost exclusively because it's got an I6 (and because I'm more or less genetically predisposed to like anything British).

    I'm intrigued by the Evoque though. It's a very new-money vehicle, but it's decent looking (and subdued enough it'll hopefully age well), and more competent offroad than most softroaders.

    • It's a Volvo engine, no?

      • Maymar

        Yes, the same as used in the S80 and whatnot. I suppose it makes sense in retrospect, it's just one of those things I overlooked – it's not as if the LR2 is the most memorable little vehicle.

  • XRSevin

    So, it's like a plus-size, 4wd Volvo C30?

  • Lotte

    I don't hate it, partly because it looks like a cartoonish Dakar suv and probably because I don't have to drive it. I'm fine with its existence because I know LR still makes this:
    [youtube r4trub1DVc0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4trub1DVc0 youtube]

  • Just a quick heads-up from the UK; over here these are pretty much universally bought by the egotistical, chip-on-shoulder, desparate to impress brigade, but I guess you kind of knew that already.

    It's the iPhone of cars. At launch it's being bought by people on the premise that "it's the thing to have" rather than on any actual specific product-based justification. Like the iPhone pretty soon the competition will wake up and begin offering equivalents and though the original will remain excellent, its customer base will drift away because it's no longer an individual enough product.

    The dozens of these that I've encountered so far have been driven in such a way that suggests all the hallmarks of somebody trying to make an impression, lights blazing, tailgaiting, get-out-of-my-way, high blood pressure. Just like what happenned when the Audi A5 Coupe was launched.

    Nice car though, annoyingly.

    • Van_Sarockin

      I thought I got in early with a rude Chelsea Tractor comment, but it seems to have bunged on down the memory hole. Couldn't agree more with your observations.

  • payattentiontome

    My aunt just bought one. Red with black and red inside. She's 60, she quilts, she dotes on her cats. It's the first European car she's ever owned. Her last three cars were SRX, Durango, Wagoneer.

  • Roger X

    Yes, where are they? The dealership says they can't keep them in stock. I drove a 4 door in the rain and it was pretty nice. Couldn't get it to misbehaven. But since the initial Truck of the Year, I have heard very little and seen even less. What's up with that. Any longer term reviews out there. Any reliability issues? My girlfriend wants one.