pre-2014 Range Rover Evoque | review #2

pre-2014 Range Rover Evoque | review #2

*Readers, FYI: make a cup of tea, have a seat, and get comfy 'cause this article's a biggie. Hope you enjoy!* 

What's the big deal?

I'll get straight to the point, a brand new baseline Evoque will cost you $49,990 CAD. That... is quite a bit for a new 4WD luxury compact crossover. How can this be justified when its closest competitor, the Mercedes GLA, starts at just $38,500? Well, it's because Range Rover products are less of a utility and more of a fashion statement. On the plus side, like all fashionable products, they quickly become antiquated and depreciate. In this case, it's now possible to get a used Evoque for under $30,000, which I believe, only until then, makes it a real bargain.

Response to EU emissions regulations

January of 2005, high-end automotive manufacturers like Land Rover and Aston Martin s**t their trousers when the EU introduced the Euro 4 emissions standards. Maintaining a luxury automotive brand was getting costly. Of course, it was already pricey to run one but Euro 4 made it hellishly expensive, and Euro 5, due for 2011, was going to be even more strict. I mention both Land Rover and Aston Martin because they both had to rapidly reduce their fleet average emissions in order to save money. However, their solution to this problem could not have been any more different... 

Land Rover's 2011 Range Rover Evoque

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Aston Martin's 2011 Cygnet

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In 2011, Land Rover debuted their Range Rover Evoque "cross-coupe" and Aston Martin debuted their Cygnet supermini. Can you guess which one got the negative press? If you guessed the Cygnet, you were correct! Have a cookie.

The negativity was there due to the fact that the Cygnet contradicted Aston Martin's racing spirit and quality over quantity philosophies. What it made it worse was the fact that it really just was a rebadged Toyota iQ. Long story short, as a result of Aston Martin's poor and rushed attempt at meeting EU regulations, only 150 units were sold and production was discontinued in 2013. 

On the other side, the Evoque received critical acclaim and sold over 88,000 units just in its first year of production. It was and still is Jaguar Land Rover's best selling vehicle. With some help from Ford, JLR had successfully developed a compact crossover that met and surpassed EU's Euro 4 regulations.

Unlike the Cygnet, the Evoque was a brand-appropriate, composed, and calculated effort at creating a vehicle that would not just reduce JLR's average fleet emissions but appeal to a much bigger audience. It's this kind of accomplishment that shows how much a manufacturer cares about making a responsible product.

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Prada with Muscle

Like most production cars, their designs are based on their concept counterpart and the Evoque was no exception. The Evoque was originally known as the Land Rover LRX concept, which debuted in 2008 (seen right).

It was a three-door CUV with ridiculously exaggerated proportions and very muscular shoulders which made it look bigger than it actually was. At just 4341mm (171.3"), the LRX was slightly smaller than the 2007 Q3 concept (seen below), which measured at 4379mm (172.4"). Both were intended to be attractive, stylish, dynamic, compact crossovers but that's where their similarities end.

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Their target audiences were quite different. If these two were apparel brands, the Q3 would be Adidas and LRX, Prada. This may not seem apparent at first glance, but look closely at the two...

The Q3 has four doors, acceptably-sized windows, high stance, roof racks, and a sloped rear window; proving itself to both dynamic and utilitarian.

The LRX, on the other hand, is shamelessly stylistic. It's a three-door car with big and shiny wheels. It doesn't know the meaning of practicality. Utility? What's that? Its main purpose is to drive from A to Z with grace and sophistication. 

Victoria Beck... NO!

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No beating around the bush here; Victoria Beckham, a.k.a. Posh Spice, did not design the exterior or interior of the LRX concept or Evoque, despite popular belief. The LRX design team was fairly large but the six key people who were responsible for its design are: Julian Thomson (exterior), Jeremy Waterman (exterior), Mark Butler (interior), Sandy Boyes (interior), Joanna Keatley (colour and materials), and Gerry McGovern (director). Mrs. Beckham's exact design role is still unknown but it's been assumed that she was a colour and trim design consultant for the Evoque.

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Although, to be fair she did have her own, limited production, special edition Evoque (seen right) and, despite my criticisms of her works, I like the changes she made; most noticeable being the rose gold trims. While a small detail, it seems to have inspired the colour and trim designers of the Range Rover Velar (seen right) as it also features hints of rose gold.

Though, to be specific, Beckham's Evoque sports hints of rose gold on the signature grille, wheels, and side intake. While the Velar features the colour on the bottom grille, bonnet intake, and side grille. However, it should be noted that the rose gold trims are only fitted on the highest trim level Velar's; likely implying the vehicle is at the epitome of luxury. This influence that Mrs.Beckham has made on Land Rover's colour palette is certainly noteworthy, and to that I say: Kudos, Mrs.Beckham!

Extravagant Design

photo gallery: brief summary of exterior design development

It seems to me that the designers, from the very beginning, knew that their concept will go into production. Everything but the pillars and side mirrors looked feasible (enough). Even the key thumbnail sketch displayed the car's viability. Yes it's rough but legible enough to see that most of the design ques from the original sketch carried on to the concept car.

The third sketch, in the above gallery, shows off a fixed panoramic sunroof that also exposed the concept's chassis. This one's important because it implies that the designers were well aware of the fact that the small windows and high shoulders would decrease visibility. So they thinned the A, B, and C pillars and created exposed structure beams that would not just make the car look cool but also help maintain the chassis's rigidity. Unfortunately, the Evoque had no such thing and all of its pillars were incredibly thick. The only good thing that came out of this decision is that the panoramic sunroof was completely clear.

2008 Land Rover LRX concept

2011 Range Rover Evoque 3-door

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Nonetheless, I think it's astounding just how visually similar the Evoque is to the LRX concept. Parts like the rocker panels, fog lights, headlights, grille, door, and, most importantly, proportions, were all carried from the concept car to the final production model. This is probably why it was declared 2012 World Car Design of the Year

However, there are some design flaws that could be improved for the next generation Evoque. First, the windows are one of the smallest I've ever seen on a production crossover and also one of the most difficult to see out of. Unless the next gen Evoque will feature level 4 autonomy or higher, the windows should be larger. As you'll soon see, having such minuscule windows just make the driving experience more difficult than it needs to be. Second, the LRX looks very sleek without door handles but Land Rover added pretty standard ones likely due to production costs. However, all Jaguar F-Type's are fitted with sleek door handles and all Range Rover Velar's are fitted with these. While it still would be nice to not have any door handles at all, JLR's latest handles should be sufficient enough for now and I believe will be fitted to the next generation Evoque. And last, but not least, the sharp geometric shapes on the Evoque is very 00's and outdated. It has been predicted that the next decade, or so, of automotive design will be crease-less. This means that instead of having hard lines all over the car, the body itself and the reflections that bounce off it will be what defines its characteristic features... or in simpler terms, car design is going to be smooth as hell. Since the Evoque is a product of fashion, it's very, very likely that the next generation will follow that trend. So the question is, what might the next generation Evoque look like? This:

Second Generation Evoque render by me (Myriadman / Paul A. Raszewski)

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It's the Inside that (also) Counts

I would describe the Evoque's interior as being "modernly ritzy". I say that because a lot of the components are tastefully outlined with silver trims; like the infotainment system and gear knob. Of course there are far more opulent interiors like Pagani's Huayra but I believe that this is a good example of the "less is more" philosophy. The designers have applied the right amount of bling to the essential areas. It's also quite impressive how close the design of the Evoque's interior is to the interior sketch of the LRX concept. Normally it's the interior designers that get very carried away with their imagination, which I'm fine with but then results in disappointment when the production model releases. In this case, looking at the original sketch, many items like the padded dash, silver-trimmed center console, and, most noticeably, the aluminium cross beam on the dashboard. Nice! 

Practicali-meh

While a standard car interior would apply the "form follows function" idea, this car applies the "form over function" philosophy, which is quite a rare one. Like I said before, and I'll say it again, the Evoque is a product of fashion. Want a car with acceptable storage and seating space? Avoid this at all costs. However, if you want a car that can adapt to your emotional and active needs, this is the car for you.

I'll explain that point near the end but first, what's it like to be inside an Evoque; at daytime? First, I should point out that I'm 196cm  (6.43'/77.2") tall with a thin build. Yes I'm a skinny guy but due to my height I haven't been able to comfortably fit myself in quite a few cars this year like the Chrysler Crossfire. I wanted to review this car for quite some time and I was nervous... but, if you've already looked through the gallery above or watched my video at the beginning of this article, you'd know that I fit in just fine. Actually, I made myself fairly comfortable in the Evoque's leather-covered seats. The driver's seat is electronically 12-way adjustable while the passenger's is 10-way adjustable (no height adjustment) but both, surprisingly, have 2-way lumbar support. This was quite unexpected due to the fact that this Evoque is fitted with Land Rover's second-lowest "Pure Plus" trim. Nonetheless, sitting in both the driver and front passenger seat is an exceptionally comfortable experience. 

Though, I can't say that for the backseat area. Most cars designed for urbanites, like this one, often have back seats fitted but are not recommended for long distance trips. The same can, sort of, be said here. The backseats themselves are almost as comfortable as the front but it's the space that is lacking a fair amount. If needed, you can absolutely fit in four tall adults for a short 20 minute drive but any longer than that, I can guarantee you'll hear a complaint or five from the rear passengers.

Storage? In short I'd just say, "Meh.". In long I'd say, there's certainly enough for male drivers but for female drivers, "It's just the right amount.". That was a quote from the owner of this car who also just happens to be a woman and this is important to note because Land Rover was actually marketing this car towards women; which explains Victoria Beckham's involvement. Anyway with trunk space being measured at 575L (20.31ft³) seats up and 1445L (51ft³) seats down, it sounds like a lot but it's actually the smallest in its class. I would not recommend this car for families with children taller than 150cm (4.92', 59").

Let's Ride!

I had the car for two days. Day one was spent filming and photographing the car with some light suburban driving. Day two was when I took the Evoque for a full-day urban test drive but let's talk about the first. That day I drove about 13km (8.1 miles) and it looked something like this.

I picked up the car to have it reviewed and the second the owner handed over the key, I couldn't help but notice how worn it was. The owner told me that Land Rover Canada does not offer any car key repair services. What if you still want it fixed? Unfortunately, you'll have go to an aftermarket store or do it yourself. However she did ask her nearest JLR dealership how much it would cost to replace one... $300. Ouch.

After having cleared that situation, I had a pleasant drive to Humber Bay Park for the photo and video shoot. I kept all driving settings at default, as I wanted to keep the suspension soft and interior noise low. Unfortunately, because the Evoque was partially tested and developed at the Nurburgring in Germany, the ride is a tad stiff. Found that out the hard way when I drove little too fast over the speed bumps near the park but, no worries, my spine is still intact.

For the shoot, the first thing I wanted to take a picture of was the engine. I opened the hood and immediately noticed two things. One, I said to myself, "Damn, that's a pretty big crumple zone."; which is probably how it got a 5-star safety rating. Two, the bonnet itself was fitted with very visible sound-deadening pads, explaining the low interior noise. 

After the shoot, I went to a McDonald's drive-thru for lunch. Odd timing but it was at this point when the car's flaws began to shine. For example, I was second in line to order and I heard a honk coming from my right. Looked right... nothing. Then a second, third, and fourth honk; all from the same car. In addition to turning my head, I moved away from my seat towards the windshield and saw a Mazda3 that was hiding behind the Evoque's A-pillar and side mirror. An entire car was hidden! I expect this kind of thing from a low-slung sports car, not a compact crossover that is meant for city driving.

I've already talked about the small windows and high shoulders but never did I think they would be such an interference in every day normal activities. So, I made it to the drive-thru window. The lady at the window asked, "Cash or Credit?". I replied, "Debit.". She brought out the terminal and then made a fool of myself in the process of reaching for the damn thing. As I was making the payment, I had my shoulders shrugged, arms were, stretched out, firmly and uncomfortably placed on the edge of the window frame. Payment cleared and I was finally receiving my food. I promise this is the last time I'll mention the small windows but my god! My order consisted of medium fries, 10 mcnuggets, and a large cola. The paper bag fit through the car's window frame just fine. The large drink, on the other hand, looked like it was just 10cm (4") short of getting stuck. I'm sure if it was fitted with a straw, it would have been. The car highly discourages the driver from doing such activity.

Then again, Evoque drivers are far more sophisticated. McDonalds? Tim Hortons? Nah. You would more likely see them confidently walk into a Starbucks to get their daily tailored drink; an iced, half caff, ristretto, venti, four-pump, sugar-free, cinnamon, dolce soy skinny latte. They're the kind that would drive to Holt Renfrew to buy a $599 travel bag while being totally aware of the fact that they can get the same bag on amazon.ca for $100 less. Why? Because it's a way of displaying status of wealth. Because they want and like being seen with their Range Rover. Most importantly, because they can. Products of fashion and luxury, like the Evoque, speak to the heart, not mind. Except I'm not a part of the Evoque's targeted demographic and I just wanted to eat my damn fries. Then went to Best Buy to buy batteries for my cameras. Day one, done.

Day two: 6:55am, my alarm rang. I'm not a morning person but found myself to be in a good mood. Told my sister that I would save her the hassle and drive her to work, downtown. This is what the Evoque was, partly, built for! "Should be a piece of cake!" I thought to myself. You can check out my day-two driving route here

7:54am, I picked up my sister and went on our marry-ish way. This trip would normally be a half-hour 10km (6.2 miles) commute. Simple. Except this was a test drive. I decided to take the one-hour 13km (8.1 miles) route. Known to have caused heart attacks and such, I was diving head first into Toronto's typical, heavy bumper-to-bumper morning traffic. I wanted to see how long I could keep myself calm with the help of the Evoque's comfort features.

Despite all the flaws I've previously mentioned, they weren't at all bothersome during this trip. Visibility may be poor but I wasn't planning on parallel parking or maneuvering through any small spaces. Even if I were in a, literally, very tight situation, I would just use the five-camera surround system. This is another standard feature for all Canadian models, by the way.

Traffic was thickening and I was getting bored. Probably expected since my average speed was about 20km/h (12.4mph). I started to play around a bit with the car. The steering wheel and column are packed with a lot of functions. Activating the cruise control: easy. Volume control: after realizing they were on the left pad, not right, straight forward. That also goes for radio selection. However, speaking of radio, I wanted to listen to the news. This meant that I had to change from FM to AM radio and this required access to the touch screen.

When that was set, I had a go at the navigation system and... it was... quite depressing and frustrating on first try. While Land Rover's UI designers have done an OK job, the infotainment system is very sluggish and feels like it's running on 10 year old computer hardware. Additionally, the GPS was for some reason set to "off road" mode. It literally took me a minute to change it to "on road" mode by resetting the entire system to default. Only then was I able to enter in an address... using an alphabetical keyboard *facepalm*. The weird part is that the test car was taken into service about 6 months ago for a checkup and software update. Whether or not a 2018 infotainment software update is available for older Evoque's I'm not sure.

We've reached the downtown core and traffic comes to a standstill. Feeling stressed but far from feeling the need to pull my hair out. I then looked to my right and saw the car's reflection in the window of a Coach store. I realized I was in Yorkville; one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Toronto. I was surrounded by stores like Louis Vuitton and Prada. This level of comfort and opulence is something that I rarely get the opportunity to feel. While it's totally of my character, I decided to just take advantage of the moment and pretend like I was some kind of famous clothing designer on his way to an important meeting with Selena Gomez. I then said to myself, "Oh! So this is what it feels like to be an Evoque driver.".

While Evoque's, sold in North America, are quite well equipped, we only get the Si4 engine with an automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. Plus, despite the Range Rover branding, the turbocharged 2.0 litre 4-cylinder petrol motor is actually Ford's Ecoboost engine. Additionally, the infotainment and chassis are also Ford-related. This is because Land Rover used to be a subsidiary of Ford, along with others like Jaguar, Aston Martin, Volvo, and Mazda; all of which, by the way, are also now no longer owned by Ford. Of course, having a shared platform can be either a positive or a negative. Unfortunately, in this case, I believe it's a negative but this is mainly due to age and how clearly it shows.

The Si4 engine packs a moderate punch of 179kw (240bhp) and 340Nm (250ft-lbs). Not that much by today's standards but just keep in mind that it's only 5mm longer than the Kia Rio hatchback, believe it or not. Yes, this means you can go fast but it's not quick. Top speed is 217km/h (135mph) but it takes 7.6 seconds to 100km/h (62mph). However some have been able to achieve 7 seconds flat. The Evoque is almost as capable on the road as it would be off but it's not the kind of car that likes to be pushed hard. Oh right, did I mention that North American models are also equipped with "sport" mode and paddle shifters? If I haven't before, well now I have and I think it's so weird. I mean, the owner of the car said she's never used it. Considering the Evoque's target demographic of 35+ year-old female fashionistas, these features will only be used to either dash to an appointment they've nearly missed or escape the paparazzi. Otherwise, they're kind of useless.

What's not useless are the "special programs" that are also fitted as standard to all North American models. There are five modes: "off" or "general driving/normal", "grass/gravel/snow", "mud/ruts", "sand", and "dynamic". Unfortunately, that last one is only fitted to models equipped with adaptive dynamics which is an option that my test car does not have but that didn't stop me from getting some off-road time. Remember earlier when I said I'll explain how the Evoque can adapt to your active needs? Well, this is how.

It was no Serengeti but I managed to find a nearby parking lot with some dirt and mud. While my Evoque was equipped with mud mode, I didn't use it. It would be of very little to no use on such a lightly rough surface as these special programs are meant for heavy off-roading. Nonetheless, I had a go at some mud with special programs off and the car handled it all just fine. The roughest parts of the parking lot were on a corner turn and packed with quite a few puddles of mud. First attempt, I drove through them at 10km/h. Second: 20km/h. Third and final: 40km/h. This was such a piece of cake for the little city dweller. It stuck to the surface like glue. Again, this was just a dirt-covered parking lot but I really did give it quite the push on the corners and it did really, really well. 

It was the end of day two and I had to fill up the gas tank before handing it back to the owner. This where I'll mention the car's economy. Land Rover claims that this 6-speed, automatic, 4WD, Si4-equipped Evoque will do 8.7l/100km (12km/l, 32MPG). I did not achieve that. My reading at the end was 11l/100km (9.1km/l, 21.4mpg) and, because the car requires premium gas, it cost me nearly $70 to refill the tank. This, literally, emptied my wallet. I was expecting $50 and saved an extra $20 for a nice lunch but nope, this thirsty Evoque took it all. That hurt.

The Light Show

Going back a little bit to the end of day one, the owner called me to ask how the first day went and then reminded of the cool lighting features that the Evoque has. So, at around midnight, I drove back to the parking lot to take a close look and, oh man, was it cool.

Just like your active needs, the Evoque can also accommodate to your emotional needs, through colour. It doesn't sound like much, I know but, to the right person, it can really make a difference. The purpose of this is to give you the opportunity to change the mood of the interior. It's the same how some modern hot hatches have a "sport" mode which, when switched on, turns all the gauges red with the implication of aggression. Take a look at the gallery right above and you'll see the five colours available colours: strong blue, light blue, white, pink, and red. What I think is quite cool about this feature is that they are not attached to any specific driving mode. You're free to choose any colour no matter what preferences you're using or what mood you're in. Use it however the hell you want! Each one can imply anything you want it to. You getting busy or you getting busy? Set to red! This is a feature I'm emphasizing because the Evoque is one of the first production cars below the $50,000 mark to have this feature. This is something that I've really come to appreciate and you should too.

While difficult to notice in the daytime, at night, the design of the headlights and taillights both figuratively and literally shine. Both ends are equipped with LED's and look like they're embedded with hundreds of micro cubic crystals, especially with the front lights. This is one of those small details of the Evoque that gives it that extra hint of opulence.

Lastly, if you haven't seen the final two pictures in the gallery above, the car also features this thing called "puddle lights" that shine from the side mirrors. This is now quite a popular feature with most mid to high-end cars but back in 2011, this was huge. It's there for the car to formally greet you. If you're peasant (like me) and can only afford cars like a used Corolla or Civic, you're probably aware that these kind of cars just say hello with one or two beeps to acknowledge that you've unlocked the doors. Essentially, click the unlock button and they would just say, "'Sup dude. Going somewhere?". On the other hand, a Range Rover, as you unlock the doors, would say, "Good evening madam/sir, may I take your jacket?". Again, because this feature is becoming cheaper to make, it's getting fitted on lower end fashionable cars like the Mini Cooper, which means it's slowly losing its sense of high-end luxury. Though it shouldn't be too much of a concern because it's just so freaking cool! Admittedly, I also had a little fun with it too, making hand shadow puppets 'n stuff.

Overall, a used pre-2014 Si4-fitted Evoque is, literally, a very attractive luxury compact crossover. If you have a special place in your heart for luxury design brands, this one's for you... just within a reasonable amount. If you have the cash, then a used Evoque over $30,000 shouldn't be that big of a deal. However, for those that are looking for a sleek and unique compact luxury crossover under $30,000, get this! As I mentioned at the very beginning of this article, if you can find a good condition used Evoque under that amount, you've got a great deal. For now, ones that go for under $30k are the lowest trim models like the Pure City and Pure Plus. If you're patient, you might be able to find higher trim models like the Pure Premium and Dynamic Premium, which then would make it a pretty nice bargain.

Of course, like all other used cars, here are some notes of caution before heading out to buy one. As should be expected, buying a used car from a premium brand means premium costs for replacement parts, should you ever be in an accident *knocks on wood for you*. Fortunately, in the case of many high-end modern cars, like Range Rover's, they are heavily reliant on software. For example, some Evoque owners have been complaining about odd transmission behaviours which, has been said, made real rough gear jumps when coasting and/or decelerating. This problem has been seen in both 6 and 9 speed automatic transmissions but can be fixed with a dealer-serviced software upgrade. It also has been advised to all Evoque drivers to keep a charged booster pack in the car at all times, in case of an unexpected battery drain/failure. This can be avoided by just minimizing use of the car's electronics (like radio and GPS) with the engine off. If you want to know more about what things to watch out for, I'd recommend you check out this and this. Though rest assured, it is certainly possible to go out shopping for a used Evoque with confidence and knowing that there aren't any earth-shattering problems that you need to worry about. If you're still worried about those transmission jumps and recalls, go get a certified Land Rover technician to get a pre-purchase car inspection, for about $120, to get that final feeling of absolute assurance that the Evoque you chose will serve you well in your upcoming future endeavours.

I'm personally not a fan of giving a numeral score on products for reviews. However, if I absolutely had to for a used, pre-2014, Si4-equipped, sub-$30k, good-condition Evoque... eight and a half out of ten. For my own sake though, I will give it my vocabulary score, and it goes like this:

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If you have anything thoughts on used Evoque's or this review of mine, go ahead in the comment section below! My name is Paul A. Raszewski a.k.a. Myriadman and thank you so much for your time. Have great week, eh?

P.S: Thanks mom for letting me review your car. <3

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