BMW teams up with Italian styling gurus at Pininfarina for slick new coupe
Range Rover Evoque: month three
Model: Range Rover Evoque SD4 Dynamic 5-door
On fleet since: June 2012
Official combined mpg: 44.1 mpg
Our average economy: 31.4 mpg
Costs so far: £0
Pros: It’s the car of 2012, great comfort, strong performance
Cons: Load length, door locks, initial power pickup, economy
Where have we been?
Just a few miles from our Harpenden office is the London Land Rover Experience Centre. Based in the grounds of the ultra-smart Luton Hoo hotel, it offers off-road training for potential and existing Land Rover owners, plus corporate events. It seemed like just the place to put our Evoque through a bit of off-roading.
What do we like?
Richard Beddall, who has been running Land Rover Experience centres since 2000, greets us. This is a smart venue in keeping with the smart hotel, and lined up before us are a dozen machines, both Land Rovers and Range Rovers.
But Sean and I are sticking to our Evoque. We start by driving to a nearby river ford on a tiny country lane and get the lowdown on tackling water in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.
This is actually not much a challenge for the Evoque, even with the multiple settings of the Terrain Response. At the press of a button you can shift from the regular, most comfort-oriented mode to Dynamic for sports on-road use or settings for mud, snow, rocks and sand.
Over steep inclines, the Evoque never falters
Electronics make adjustments to the brakes, engine, throttle and so on to give an optimised driving experience. We move back to Luton Hoo so that instructor Paul can give us a taste of the off-road course.
It’s a dry day so sadly there’s no fun to be had slipping and sliding about. But over rocks, steep inclines and descents, and on powdered dirt, the Evoque never falters.
It’s the intelligent traction control system that’s the heart of this impressive ability, though there is also effective hill descent control that optimises speed on the downhill.
The steering wheel angle comes up on the display in extreme circumstances and there are five TV cameras as part of the Lux Pack that allow for the finest of judgements when manoeuvring.
Apart from the rough stuff, I have been playing with the dynamic mode of the adaptive chassis. You know this is set because the instruments change to red and the chassis gets stiffer, with tighter body control, flatter handling and sharper responses.
It works well, and when you are in a dynamic driving sort of mode, this Evoque can be punched through roundabouts at improbable speeds, all with a great feeling of control. Rarely has there been a 4x4 this dynamically solid.
What don’t we like?
But it’s a bit too firm for my liking as a regular drive. In Normal mode the Magaride suspension already adapts the shock absorbers to the road surface and my driving style, and that’s generally good enough for me.
There’s a bit of an off-road issue with our Evoque too. Being the SD4 ‘Dynamic’ it has the lowest suspension of any Range Rover which means it bottoms out on the more extreme lumps and bumps.
MSN Cars managing editor Tom Evans had a drive of this Evoque recently and thought it lacked punch entering a motorway. That’s surprising because, with 190hp, there’s no lack of power.
Yet Tom does have a point. Try pulling quickly into a stream of traffic from a T-junction or at a roundabout, and you’ll have one of those oh-my-God! moments when the Evoque seems rooted to the tarmac.
It happens for less than a second, until the turbocharger wakes up, but you need to take this behaviour into account wherever you drive.
Oh, and on the way back from Luton Hoo, the tyre warning light came on. The nearside front was going down rapidly. We crawled back to the office and called KwikFit.
Three hours later their van arrived with a fresh tyre. There was a simple hole that looked like it had been caused by a tack, plus a damaged sidewall. The new tyre it had to be.
Full marks to KwikFit though. Initially they offered a next day service, but when I said I needed a faster fix to get home, they pulled it off.
What next for the Evoque?
It's the Paris Motor Show soon, the most important industry event until 2013. We are taking the Evoque and a load of gear over so we can cover all the stories.
Report 1: Range Rover Evoque arrival
Report 2: Range Rover Evoque month two
Report 3: Range Rover Evoque month three (this report)
Report 4: Range Rover Evoque month four
Report 5: Range Rover Evoque final report
Need to know
Performance: 0-62mph 8.0secs/121mph
Power/Torque: 190hp @ 3,500rpm/310lb ft @ 1,750rpm
Insurance group: 34/50
Options fitted: Metallic paint (£550), Lux Pack £4,425
Price as tested: £44,970
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