Range Rover Evoque Prestige TD4: 4x4 off-road review
- Price and specifications
- Price: $72,695 (manual), $75,175 (auto)
- Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel, 110kW at 4000rpm, 400Nm at 1750rpm
- Transmission and 4WD system: High range 9-speed auto, on-demand four-wheel-drive
- Braked tow capacity: 1800kg
- Spare tyre: Space saver
- Fuel tank: 57 litres
- Fuel use (claimed): 5.7L/100km (manual), 6.0L/10km (auto)
- Fuel use on test: 8.3L/100km
- Approach/departure angles: 25 degrees/33 degrees
- Ground clearance: 215mm
WHAT’S THE DEAL?
The Evoque is available in four trim levels – Pure, Pure Tech, Prestige and Dynamic – each with the choice of three four-cylinder engines – two different tunes of a 2.2-litre diesel and a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol. There are also two body styles, the more popular five-door wagon or a three-door version that Land Rover likes to call a Coupe.
Prices kick off at $49,995 for the three-door with the entry-level diesel engine driving only the front wheels and rise to $81,470 for the Si4 Prestige with all the trimmngs.
Speaking of which, no matter which Evoque you’re looking at it’s likely to be light-on for equipment. Even a reversing camera and satellite-navigation are optional across the premium-priced range.
Still, there are neat touches such as push button start and an electronic handbrake that combine with the fantastic attention to detail, right down to the small lights housed in the underside of the door mirrors that illuminate a silhouetted sketch of the car on the ground at night.
Underneath the Evoque uses the same underpinnings as the Land Rover Freelander, but it’s body has given up some of the boxiness in search of a stylish shape. So while it looks great it’s compromised inside. The sloping roofline will catch out taller adults sitting in the rear and the boot is compact but useful enough for around-town duties or a well-packed trip away.
Up front it’s all good news, though, with ample head and leg room and excellent functionality to the main controls. The circular gear selector that rises when you start the car is a nice touch, too.
ON THE ROAD
It’s no secret that the Evoque’s natural environment is the city and suburbs, so no surprises that Land Rover has set it up accordingly. Independent suspension is relatively firm, but it feels confident when you point it and it sits nicely through the bends. Even on a country road at speed it’s a confident tourer. Ours was fitted with 19-inch Pirelli tyres that deliver impressive grip and help continue the theme of car-like dynamics.
B-grade roads can have it jiggling around a bit but it’s otherwise quiet and composed.
The 110kW 2.2-litre diesel engine (there’s also a 140kW version available) hesitates momentarily from a standstill before awakening to a stout delivery of torque in the middle revs. There’s some gruffness to the engine but it otherwise melds well with the nine-speed automatic; that auto is for the most part smooth and decisive in its shifts, but can occasionally trip over itself when reapplying the throttle.
In focussing on off-road the compromises have come with the Evoque’s off-road prowess. Range Rover openly admits it won’t go near the abilities of the larger, more advanced Sport and full-sized Range Rover. But the sales pitch is that the Evoque is more capable than its rivals, which include the likes of the Audi Q5 and BMW X3.
It doesn’t take many rocks or gullies to establish that wheel articulation is its shortcoming. Rather than dip a wheel into a hole it would rather pop another wheel in the air. So even with a respectable 215mm of ground clearance you’ll come across other issues.
Thankfully there are some clever electronics in the Terrain Select system, allowing you to tailor the traction control system to grass/snow, mud or sand. They help it continue along your chosen path, but you’ll constantly have to be aware that the underbody protection is basic rather than bulletproof and that the suspension simply doesn’t have the travel to get too adventurous.
That said the extremes of the car are generally kept out of striking distance of mother nature, particularly at the rear where the stumpy tail contributes to a 33 degree departure angle.
But the biggest limitation with the Evoque off- road – particularly in Australia’s more remote regions – is likely to be the tyres. They’re predominantly designed for bitumen and are in big sizes (it’s all about the look); they’re available in 17 to 20-inch sizes, depending on what model and options you choose.
As a fashionable and competent luxury soft-roader the Evoque ticks plenty of boxes. It’s efficient and practical and can be fun to drive.
But it’s more on-roader than off-roader, with its tyres and suspension travel ultimately limiting how far it will go in the rough stuff. Some well-tuned traction management systems give it above average clawing ability in tricky terrain, though.
Pick up a copy of 4x4 Australia's October 2014 issue for the complete review.
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