Range Rover Evoque eD4 Road Test
The Evoque eD4 2WD might be the first Range Rover not to drive all four wheels but it hasn’t hurt the brand, says Isaac Bober.
In an event reminiscent of when Porsche announced the release of its Cayenne SUV – which saved the company we hasten to add – Land Rover’s decision to release the avant garde Range Rover Evoque shocked many. The release of the Range Rover Evoque eD4 2WD took that a step further.This is, in the brand’s 40-plus year heritage, the first Range Rover not to drive all four wheels. Not that that, in this day and age, really matters. The fact is, the bulk of compact SUV sales in the country are 2WD (or part-time 4WD) models. Most punters want the higher-than-a-hatch driving position with some of the look of a more serious rough-roader.
The Evoque eD4 2WD looks just like any other Evoque and in my opinion that makes it easily the best looking compact SUV out there, and one of the best-looking cars in the world. Besides the Range Rover Evoque, few cars draw so heavily on their design as a sales tool. Very few vehicles ever roll down the production line looking anything like the concept car the manufacturer used to build the hype. The bean counters get involved and design and materials’ budgets get slashed. Yes, surely that happened too with the Evoque, but its gorgeous proportions would suggest it arrived virtually unscathed from its LRX concept.There are 12 different colours to choose from, seven types of alloy wheels in varying sizes, three different roof colours, and a multitude of interior trim options.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
From both the inside and out, there’s precious little to indicate this is a front-drive Evoque. Only the lack of a hill descent control button and the missing Terrain Response control panel on the centre console give the game away. The rest of the dashboard is typical Evoque, and that means it’s dominated by the large touchscreen in the centre of the dash featuring nice big icons, making it easy to use on the fly. The rest of the controls and dials for the heating and air-con are similarly easy to use.Thanks to reach and rake adjustment on the steering wheel and plenty of adjustability in the seat, it’s easy to get comfortable behind the wheel. You sit down lower in the Evoque than you do in other Range Rovers but you still get a commanding view of the road and all-around vision is excellent (and, no, though it looks like it to casual observers, the rear windscreen isn’t too small).
ROOM & PRACTICALITY
In either the three-door Coupe or five-door Evoque you’ll comfortably seat four adults, five in a pinch, and the big rear door openings on the five-door variant make it easy for taller passengers to get in and out. There’s decent rear seat legroom and while the wild rake of the roof would suggest headroom would be tight in the back that’s not the case at all. The flat boot floor makes the Evoque easy to load and unload and with the seats up the boot measures 400 litres which is adequate rather than cavernous in this class. Drop the rear seats though, and while they don’t fold totally flat, storage jumps to a decent 1445 litres.
Under the bonnet of eD4 there’s a tweaked version of the Evoque’s 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder (this engine also does service in Jaguar’s XF 2.2D, albeit in a different state of tune). Making 110kW at 4000rpm and 380Nm of torque at a low 1750rpm and mated to a short-throw six-speed manual (for now) with stop-start, this version returns 5.0L/100km while CO2 emissions are 133g/km. The standard TD4 Evoque manages 5.7L/100km and 149g/km CO2.Land Rover says stop-start alone helps to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by eight percent. The rest of the improvement would have come from the weight saved (75kg) by junking the rear-drive power transfer unit, prop shaft, half shafts and differential.Press the starter button and the Evoque eD4 2WD whispers into life before settling into a smooth idle. Turn the rotary gear selector around to D (for Drive) and it gets better; that 380Nm of torque allows for lazy driving and makes molehills out of mountains. Indeed, the Evoque eD4 2WD happily pulls from 1200rpm in fourth gear.
RIDE & HANDLING
While the 2WD Evoque doesn’t feel noticably lighter than its all-paw sibling the suspension has been tweaked and, I reckon it actually feels better on and off road when compared to its 4WD sibling.It shrugs off minor imperfections and barely shudders over broken patches in the road. Out on the highway, the 2WD Evoque offers decent straight-line stability, and thanks to nice, well-weighted and meaty steering with impressive turn-in, it’s an engaging vehicle to drive. Having only one driven axle might limit the Evoque eD4’s ultimate rough road ability but it’s still quite competent away from the bitumen. Indeed, I drove it on the same rough tracks we’ve put an Evoque 4WD across and it managed about 90% of what its four-wheel-drive sibling could do.
Climb up inside the Evoque and you can’t help but be impressed. The fact is, the interior looks every bit as cool and classy as the exterior. To keep costs down, Land Rover’s designers have used hard, scratchy plastics but they’ve been clever and hidden them in out of the way places. All of the touch points, like the dashboard and door are either soft-touch or plush-feeling plastic that gives off the air of sophistication you expect from a Range Rover.Everything else about the car oozes class, the door closes with a solid ‘thunk’ there’s minimal outside noise leaking into the cabin, the carpets and other finishing touches seem solid and hard-wearing without losing the style of a Range Rover. In terms of reliability, we haven’t heard any particularly nasty stories, and with Land Rover performing better and better in reliability surveys around the world, and improvements to quality control in their factories (due to past reliability complaints), the Evoque eD4 with two less driven wheels and thus less to go wrong, should be pretty good. That said, the three-year, 100,000km warranty is standard rather than outstanding.
EQUIPMENT & PRICING
The Evoque eD4 2WD is priced from $49,995 (+ORC) and that puts it right on the money against the other premium compact SUVs you’d cross-shop it with. The Audi Q3 2.0TDI lists from $44,800 (+ORC) while the BMW X1 2.0 sDrive (2WD variant – all-wheel drive versions are xDrive) is priced from $49,900 (+ORC), and neither of those rivals has the looks, ride, or handling of the Evoque.As standard, your $49,995 (+ORC) gets a mass of equipment, including Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, electric parking brake, push-button start, leather wrapped steering wheel, climate control, 17-inch alloys, front fog lights, and rear parking sensors. Like the rest of the Evoque range, the eD4 2WD variant can be had in both five-door and coupe body styles, and in all three trim options (Pure, Dynamic, Prestige).
In terms of safety features, the Evoque eD4 2WD gets six airbags, three child restraint anchor points, traction and stability controls, ABS with electronic brake-force distribution, emergency brake light, and hill-start assist.