The 18-inch alloy wheels on this model also add to its appeal
The 18-inch alloy wheels on this model also add to its appeal

Sunday drive with Hormazd Sorabjee: A review of the 2020 Range Rover Evoque

Land Rover’s SUV is gorgeous, though not the most logical buy
Hindustan Times | By Hormazd Sorabjee
UPDATED ON JAN 26, 2020 12:06 AM IST

This second-generation Range Rover Evoque retains one of the most important qualities of the original – its gorgeous looks. Unlike its more hardy-looking brethren, the Evoque continues to be a style statement with design elements that are heavily inspired by the striking Velar. Besides the obvious difference in size, some might say the two are too similar, though a closer look reveals the Evoque has a more prominent bonnet and shoulder line. The 18-inch alloy wheels on this model also add to its appeal.

Signature style

Like the exterior, the Evoque’s insides are just as pleasing to look at and the cabin is replete with a mix of high quality materials and a minimalist design that has now become a Range Rover hallmark. The dual touchscreen infotainment system, available on higher variants, is also a Range Rover signature and has a slick and functional feel to it. In fact, the two control knobs that replace the single rotary dial seen on the previous Evoque make it easier to use. The only drawback here is getting to specific functions – like adjusting the climate control – requires one to take one’s eyes off the road.

The cabin boasts excellent comfort levels though the Evoque isn’t ideal for the chauffeur-driven in terms of space. Headroom at the back is adequate for those under 6ft – that’s despite the panoramic sunroof – legroom isn’t something to write home about either and when three are seated at the back, the cabin seems narrow, especially as the thick C-pillars reduce visibility.

Going strong

It may not seem like a typically strong Range Rover, but the Evoque is quite adept when taken off the beaten track. While the brand’s traditional Terrain Response dial isn’t there, the new click wheel that accesses the different drive modes has a really nice tactile feel.

Shifting to the ‘Mud and Ruts’ mode, the Evoque was able to trek down a steep, rutted and gravelly path to a river with aplomb. A minor quibble was that this version of the Evoque didn’t come with air springs or a suspension height adjust feature but it’s really not necessary on a car that won’t stray too far from tarmac.

The engine is quite responsive and reasonably refined but if you rev it hard, the diesel roar is quite audible

On a sorry excuse for a road, the Evoque’s firm suspension setup can toss you around, especially over some of the sharper bumps. However, up the speed and the ride smoothens out significantly – in fact the faster you go, the more comfortable it feels.

This relatively stiff suspension does give the Evoque handling capabilities you wouldn’t expect from an SUV of this ilk, especially when paired with the new platform that improves body rigidity considerably. Although it’s as agile as the previous-gen Evoque, the new model is dynamically more rounded, combining sure-footedness, easy handling and good ride comfort.

Cruise control

The cabin boasts excellent comfort levels
The cabin boasts excellent comfort levels

The second-gen Evoque will come with both petrol and diesel engines – we got our hands on the D180 diesel that is powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit making 180hp and 430Nm of torque. The engine is quite responsive and reasonably refined but if you rev it hard, the diesel roar is quite audible. Aided by the 9-speed automatic gearbox, the diesel Evoque feels quick at low speeds and is capable of hitting triple digit speeds without breaking a sweat, but the auto gearbox isn’t the smoothest around. There are moments when the gear shifts are a bit jerky and there’s a bit of a delay when shifting down gear from speed.

Give the Evoque an open road and it will gallop to some serious speeds and though most owners won’t put it to much highway use, the Evoque turned out to be quite a good cruiser, munching miles without drama.

There’s no denying the Evoque isn’t meant to be a purely logical buy. It’s not as practical and spacious as mainstream luxury SUVs and it’s fairly pricey too. But what you’re buying is a piece of art, a rolling sculpture on wheels and that’s something hard to put a price on.

Hormazd Sorabjee is one of the most senior and much loved auto journalists in India, and is editor of Autocar India

Sunday Drive appears every fortnight

From HT Brunch, January 26, 2020

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