Auto Review: Roving with Style

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Fri., May. 4, 2012
Contributed
- Contributed Photo

Like everything connected to technology these days, the process of developing new vehicles is taking less time with each passing year. As a result, we’re seeing more vehicles that start as auto show concept cars, and before you know it, a similar (if not nearly identical) model is rolling into a showroom near you. This is happening thanks to advancing computer design and testing techniques, along with the fact that manufacturers have more real-world experience to draw from than ever before.

So it shouldn’t be too shocking that a version of Land Rover’s futuristic Range Rover LRX concept SUV (first seen at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show) is now roaming cities and trails as the Range Rover Evoque. It’s not only chock full of the latest advanced powertrain and electronic technology; it’s a genuine head-turner in terms of appearance. It’s also the lightest and most fuel-efficient Range Rover ever built, and a versatile and entertaining vehicle that’s available as either a five-door or two-door hatchback.

But don’t think that this achievement was easy, even with advanced engineering techniques. “During the development process, maintaining the integrity of the LRX concept without compromising core Range Rover values, such as interior comfort or off-road capability, required a huge effort from the design and engineering teams,” explains a company press release. The engine is certainly no compromise, for the Direct-Injection Turbocharged 2-liter Inline Four develops 240 horsepower, while delivering respectable fuel economy. A six-speed automatic transmission channels power through a Permanent Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system with adjustable Terrain Response. Acceleration is spritely, with 60 mph arriving in 7.29 seconds (and like with a lot of turbocharged engines, response can be a tad abrupt at times).

Our five-door tester was armed with the optional Adaptive Dynamics suspension with MagneRide; a sophisticated system that adjusts damping rates on the fly to deliver optimal ride and control, regardless of the road surface. As a result, the ride is firm but reasonably compliant, and there’s plenty of the kind of suspension travel over deep ruts that the Range Rover brand is famous for. Handling is also very agile, with a tight turning radius that is welcome on road or off.

As you eye the Evoque’s stylishly low roofline, you might expect a claustrophobic interior, but a standard panoramic glass roof eliminates any such concerns the moment you settle in (and a power sunshade can be employed when needed). Front seat comfort is superb, and while more rear seat leg and foot room would be desirable, two adults can be quite comfortable, and that amazing roof makes for a very entertaining riding experience. The driving controls are unique, such as a shifter in the form of a dial on the center console that rises to greet you when you start the engine.

The 2012 Range Rover Evoque is EPA-rated 18 MPG city/28 highway and has a base price of $41,145. Loaded with options, our sticker came to $60,095. www.landrover.com.


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