The new DS3, customise every feature to suit your style
It’s quite clear that Jaguar and Land Rover personnel are revelling in new freedom afforded since the Indian Tata Group bought the brands just over three years ago.
Where previously the reins were steered by tight Ford execs who cut here and skimped there, now control’s been given back to those passionate about restoring the luxurious marques’ former glory, and the cars are benefitting.
New models are of better quality, performance is on the up and, as it should be, style is again oozing from aluminium roof panels down to where rubber meets road.
HONOURS ALL ‘ROUND
The renaissance has been well received. In 2010 we voted the new Jaguar XJ this publication’s Car of the Year, and late last year we announced this car, Range Rover’s new Evoque, our favourite vehicle of 2011. And we weren’t the only ones. Sniff around the net and you’ll see this little SUV’s scooping Car of the Year honours all over the world.
Style-wise the Evoque looks like a four-year-old concept vehicle called the LRX that impressed public at motor shows around the globe, but underneath it’s loosely based on Land Rover’s Freelander 2. In five door trim like our test unit (it also comes in a two-door coupé) dimensions are similar to the Freelander too, except for a lower roofline, ride height and sleek angles that make it seem much smaller. Just a little bigger than your average four-door hatch actually.
On the road the Evoque feels nothing like its Freelander sibling. It feels lighter on its feet because it is, with lots of new aluminium and magnesium suspension parts, and the track’s also been widened to keep it better planted when leaned on in asphalt esses.
Unlike the Freelander, the Evoque also gets a new electric power-steering system that always feels light in your hands, and while some might say it’s a little over-assisted, I like the feel.
Adding to the steering’s directness is a rack that’s mounted directly to the front subframe without rubber bushes. The design works well, with every little input translating to direction changes, and no dreaded numbness or self-centering issues normally associated with electric steering.
EXCESSIVE ROAD NOISE
But to nitpick, I do think the lack of rubber mountings, together with other weight-saving measures, contributes to slightly excessive road noise that you won’t find in other Rangies, or even a Freelander for that matter.
It’s obvious by looking at it, that the Evoque’s first priority is on-road performance, but looks can be deceiving. Fact is, it’s as nimble as many a hot hatch on tar, but the baby Range Rover can hold its own offroad as well.
It’s a full-time four-wheel drive system (there’s also a front-wheel drive only version overseas) that’ll take even the biggest offroading buffoons pretty far into the bush straight off the street in normal drive mode. But additional traction-enhancing gizmos like hill start, hill descent, and Land Rover’s signature Terrain Response (here it’s pushbuttons instead of the usual turny knob) allows drivers to choose preset traction settings for Gravel, Snow, Sand, etc that will take you most places you want to go.
The Evoque managed our offroad test track easily, but I’m afraid its reasonably humble ride height (215mm versus Freelander’s 245) might hold it back from certain breakovers other Land and Range Rovers could handle without flinching.
The Evoque has shorter overhangs than the Freelander but we still scraped the front bumper on some approaches.
Regardless of its on and offroad performance, the Evoque’s best feature, and probably what swayed it most into Motoring’s Car of the Year spot, is its interior. Straight away you’re greeted by a set of the coolest, sculpted seats we’ve seen this side of a supercar. They’re as pleasing just to look at as to sit in, and over a long distance test drive from Jozi to Plett and back, held me in all the right places. Very cozy.
I could, however, criticise the rear seats, which are positioned higher so that rear passengers can see the road, but when four-up it’s hard for the driver to see past them in the mirror. The nature of the sexy side window lines also create a small blind-spot issue.
There’s lots of Jaguar tech creeping in; most of all in the motorised gear-selector gizmo that rises up from its flush mount in the console when the engine’s started.
The overhead lights are also touch-sensitive just like Jag’s, there’s a mood lighting feature, and the touch-screen media interface is also familiar from the sister brand. I do wish though, that some of the steps through nav, radio and phone connection settings could be simplified. There are one or two too many presses to get things done.
Our test car was a 2-litre turbo petrol version with 177kW and 340Nm, that hums along smoothly and dishes up decent punch when needed. The six-speed auto box is snappy enough, and there are steering paddles, but I hardly used them. The Evoque’s natural shift points happened intuitively enough without them, but they may come in handy for towing.
This Evoque Si4 did a best 0-100km/h dash in 8.9 seconds and the quarter mile in 16.6. Average fuel consumption was just over 10l/100km.
Okay, so the Range Rover badges are just nameplay, given the Freelander roots, but the Evoque still pulls off Rangey luxuriousness nicely.
A unique cross between luxury, sport and 21st century gizmo-gadgetry actually. It’s not cheap with a starting price of R583 000 (this one’s R606 000) but it’s the cheapest Range Rover by a long shot. And well worth it. -Drive Times
I like to see which Evoque owner will take this Offroad
@Jiems: Or maybe diesel?
Petrol? Why not benzine or meths?
I drive an old Ford Territory ST AWD , paid for, now has 82000km on the clock and will eat this range rover for breakfast and save me R600 000 in the process. Were going away this weekend (again, as we often do), what will you be doing?...staying at home!...why?...I have to pay my Range Rover! Enough said, A real life is one without debt!
No. Definitely no. Thanks Land Rover. A pimped up Freelander at twice the price. Will date very quickly and become one of those 'do you remember the early 2000 years when they tried to jazz up the Land Rover." sort of vehicle. Many of those on the world vehicle junk heap.
The Evoque is brilliant - I've owned an RRS and Disco 4 and can confirm that the Evoque is a true RR and 4x4. It shares only 20% Freelander DNA so cannot be compared to its Land Rover sibling as like-for-like. It is far more luxurious than the FL2 and Disco 4, matching the RRS. Its off-road ability matches the FL2 but its on-road ability is better than any other RRLR by some margin; easily as good as a sorted hot hatch. And it looks better than just about any car out there! I'll add the DC100 to my stable for serious off-roading in 2015 but my Orkney Grey Evoque Dynamic Si4 with all options is all I need for now.
RANGE ROVER SPORT...THE ULTIMATE...EVOQUE...NO
I'll keep my '98 tDI 300 110 and my Patrol 3l diesel. thank you.
Freelander with funky suit
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