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Range Rover Evoque Test Drive Review - Style meets substance in upmarket SUV

Snapshot: We spend a couple of days with Land Rover’s stylish offering to figure out what the buzz is all about

It’s hard not to curb your enthusiasm at the sights of the Range Rover Evoque at first glance. Just a glance at the Evoque is enough to tell you that this isn’t your everyday SUV and there is something hugely special about it. This car shouts celebrity from all ends.
 

Exterior
The media car we got came in this sharp looking red hue. There are other colours on sale as well but none look as dynamic as this one. It’s one of those few cars that compels you to say ‘wow’ at each fine detail. The peeled-back headlamps up front, the coupe like sloping roof and the muscular wheel arches shout style from a distance. To say that the Evoque looks like no other SUV on the road will be a gross understatement. 

But more important that the car’s appearances is what it represents. It takes the rich heritage of Range Rover’s off-roading pedigree along with the sophistication and desirability of a modern day car into a stylish package.


Such a special SUV needed a special shoot and drive report and with the summers on in full swing I decided to head to the Shimla hills via the SUV-capital of India, Chandigarh.

Interior
Move into the cabin and the sense of drama continues. Automatic Evoques get rotary gear selector that rises from the centre console at start up. You also get switches for Land Rover’s Terrain Response off-road system that reconfigures the car’s software and hardware depending on the surface you’re driving on, ensuring your car is never caught in the wrong footing. There is plenty of space for four adults and a fifth will be a squeeze as well. The rear cabin though is fairly dark, but the panoramic glass roof brightens things up. Unfortunately, rear visibility is bit compromised. Though the rear glass is wide, it is extremely shallow. You can access most car controls through a touch screen on the dashboard, with icons that are large and easy to operate.

Engine, performance and gearbox
Power comes from a 2.2-litre diesel engine with 190bhp of power and even impressive 420Nm of torque. Power is transferred via a six-speed automatic. The motor delivers this power in a nice and linear way, all the way to it’s redline. However, the automatic gearbox is a bit slow to respond.

The Drive, ride and handling
Doing the 250 kilometres from Delhi to Chandigarh is a cinch, with so much power on hand the car can do 100kph-speeds for extended times with ease. The Evoque seems to envelope itself around the driver and you never feel that you are driving a bulbous car. In fact it feels like a grown up hatchback to operate around town or on the highway.
Stability is excellent on the highway as well and I arrived fresh at our Hotel in the heart of the city. After having started around 8am from Delhi I hit the ‘city beautiful’ around 12.30pm that despite the mandatory stop at Karnal dhabas for a Lassi.





Chandigarh is a buzzy city and there is plenty to do there. If you want to have a relaxed time then head to the Sukhna Lake at the end of the city. You can take a boat ride here or simply spend time watching the migratory birds here. You can also head to the famous Rock Garden. If you love shopping head to sector-17 market, which really feels like a mini-version of Connaught Place. Transportation is never a problem in this green city.

As soon as we enter Chandigarh I am reminded what an Instagram magnet this car really is. Fewer still make you feel like a celebrity wherever you take them. All you need to do to verify this is by standing at a signal. Cell phones come out in a jiffy, heads turn and you can visibly see the envious glares from fellow motorists. People are ready to storm you with an array of questions. What car? Is it a diesel? Is it built like a tank? The questions fly thick and fast.



After spending a relaxed evening with family and friends next day is an early morning start to head to Shimla and then to Kufri for some much needed cool weather. The Evoque feels at home negotiating the twisty corners on the excellent Himalayan Expressway. Body roll is under control and steering feedback is good too. The firm ride means that the driver has plenty of confidence while pushing the car hard into corners. The paddle shifts behind the steering wheel add to the sense of control as well.


The road upto Shimla is well paved and has plenty of restaurants along the way. Temperatures start dropping once you cross Kasauli.  You can see the Shimla-Kalka toy train tracks along the way and plenty of colonial construction as well. However, entering Shimla is a bit tricky. Since it is a very popular tourist destination, entry to the town always means meeting bumper-to-bumper traffic. I chose to head all the way to Kufri. It is about half an hours’ drive from Shimla but doesn’t have the same hustle bustle of the town. Though the road isn’t as great since its very narrow and not well paved, yet it’s worth the effort to get there to get some peace of mind.

Summary
In the overall analysis, cars just don’t get any classier or prettier than the Evoque. Add to that the sophisticated cabin and strong road presence. Sure, it could offer more power but if you want an everyday SUV which makes you stand out from a crowd then you seriously need to consider this. It’s worth the price for those who can afford it. 

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