ROAD TEST: Range Rover Evoque Coupé Si4 Dynamic
Never would I have expected an SUV to get so many tongues wagging, heads jolting and eyebrows rising in approval. But then it's not everyday that a concept car becomes a reality.
If we're talking style, and that is really the biggest talking point when the Evoque's name is mentioned, it's the three-door Coupé that most closely mirrors that LRX concept car that wowed the world four years ago.
Just its head-turning design (and Range Rover prestige to the more ostentatious) would be enough to earn this vehicle a sizeable fan club but luckily there is a lot more where that came from.
The smallest and most efficient Range Rover ever created also delivers a compelling balance between on-road performance and off-road ability, and there's a really larny interior to sink into.
The cabin of my test car was decked out in some kind of bright raunchy-red colour scheme (Pimento/Ebony Oxford leather interior in Land Rover speak) and I must admit that it adds a huge sense of occasion to the interior. Just a pity this option only comes with the R45 000 Dynamic Plus Pack, which does at least bring rally-style one-piece front seats with eight-way electric adjustment.
Another option that you'll hesitate to forgo if you're a music lover is the 825-watt Meridian Surround Sound System for R14 000. The clarity this system offers is just mind-boggling - you'll hear beats and notes in your favourite tunes that you never knew were there.
The rest of the Evoque's interior imparts the same fancy look and feel as you'd expect in bigger Range Rovers. It also has the functionality of a user-friendly eight-inch touch-screen interface and there's even a 'pop-out' rotary gear selection knob as you get in the modern Jaguars.
The Coupé is not as impractical as you might expect - there's ample space up front and even the rear legroom allows a small stretch although that tapering roofline will create problems for any adults above average height. The 550 litre boot will swallow more than two peoples' luggage providing the kitchen sink and dressing table is not included.
Hit the road trip agenda and the Evoque will eat up provinces like they're a pre-dinner snack. The ride is very comfortable and the 2-litre Si-4 turbopetrol model featured here has more than adequate oomph for overtaking.
The direct injection four-cylinder engine is credited with 177kW at 6000rpm and 340Nm at 1750rpm and on a 1200km round trip to the coast it drank just 8.6 litres per 100km at normal highway speeds.
While pampering you on the open road is this car's speciality, don't expect it to behave like a hot hatch in any meaningful way. The steering is rather light, although dead accurate, and the gearbox lacks responsiveness - it's ok off the mark but while on the move there's quite a lag between putting your foot down and those extra killer-watts becoming available via a lower cog.
When our sister publication, Star Motoring, tested the five-door Evoque, it achieved a 0-100km/h sprint in 8.9 seconds, which is about halfway between ordinary car and hot hatch territory, mind you.
That test also included an off-road stint at the Gerotek test facility and the Evoque traversed the course without any hint of getting stuck, although the relatively low 215mm ride height and narrow approach and departure angles became a problem.
Naturally, a permanent all-wheel drive system is standard, along with Land Rover's Terrain Response gizmo that sets the vehicle up for varying off-road conditions.
In Coupé form and with the interior options specified, this is a truly special and hugely desirable vehicle. The bad news is that it's priced for executives with government infrastructure contracts.
Our 'Dynamic' model with options came up to R674 995, but even the more basic Prestige trim line without options will set you back R592 995.
Click here to build your own Evoque in Land Rover's online configurator.