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Thursday, January 3, 2013
2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque coupe review notes
Eye-catching looks add some impracticality
NEWS EDITOR GREG MIGLIORE: I really enjoyed a weekend in the 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque coupe. It truly feels like an SUV and a coupe, which is a hard feat to accomplish. It attracts attention for its sharp design, which looks like a Transformer or a toy -- but in a good way. It reminds me of a true auto show concept come to life. I have to give props to the stylists for taking risks and pulling off an attention-getting execution with impressive lights, curvy wheel wells and one of the most angled rooflines in the industry. That, however, leads to some of the faults of this vehicle. The roof is so raked it inhibits visibility to the rear, making the backup camera a necessity. I wouldn't change it, but it is one of the occasional foibles of impressive design. The gorgeous skylight runs the length of the roof, and it is awesome.
The powertrain is adequate, though not inspiring. The torque comes on almost immediately. But, some of the shifting makes for an awkward experience, especially when driving around town. Between 2,000 rpm and 4,000 rpm, the engine stretches out, horsepower coming on stronger. It is fine, and the enthusiast driver will get used to it; normal passengers will be flung forward and back as the turbo and torque work their magic.
There's adequate room in the cargo hold, and the cabin is nicely appointed. The two-tone materials with leather mesh and the smooth sound system make for a comfortable driving atmosphere. It looked and felt impressive on nearly every surface.
The steering is OK. I didn't like it at first, preferring a bit more response, but as the weekend went on I got used to it, and it's decent. I would like a sport setting to quicken response.
The chassis is nicely calibrated, and the ride height is elevated, making for an experience Americans will like. All-wheel drive is OK, but probably not necessary for what many will use this machine for in daily duty.
DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: It's rather unfortunate for Land Rover that I was given the keys to an Evoque coupe just after returning from the 2013 Range Rover launch. The little Landie had no chance of competing with its outstanding aluminum big brother, though I will credit Land Rover with taking styling chances, particularly on this supremely impractical coupe.
If you're in the market for a coupe, you probably don't need the rear seats often, so I won't harp about the contortionist exercises needed to get my kids' car seats (not to mention the kids themselves) into the rear seats; to Land Rover's credit, there's actually quite a bit of room back there. It's just difficult to access -- no surprise there.
What did disappoint, particularly considering the nearly $60,000 sticker of our Evoque, was the quality of interior construction. Not the design, mind you, but the trim plastics used on the center stack and various bezels were flimsy and hollow-sounding, the switchgear (particularly the rotary shifter knob) felt cheap and the textured material upholstering the dash was just weird. I felt compelled to keep touching it, but it creeped me out each time.
Having experienced the smooth power delivery of the turbocharged I4 in a Jaguar XJ while in the U.K., I was disappointed by its behavior in the Evoque. The Land Rover would benefit from the ZF eight-speed automatic with which our Jag was equipped, as its six-speed forced the four-pot in and out of the sweet spot. The torque comes and goes, making it hard to drive the Evoque smoothly -- a far cry from the delicious AJ V8 found in other Land Rovers. Granted, the Evoque's 28 mpg highway fuel-economy rating is a far cry from that of its guzzling brethren, too.
Overall, the Evoque coupe feels like a transition product from a company in the process of reinventing itself; it incorporates lots of new ideas -- some work, others need further development. Viewed through that lens, the Evoque is an impressive achievement from a very traditional company. Viewed through the lens of a prospective buyer looking for the best way to spend $60k on an SUV, however, the case is far less compelling. Unless the design sings to you, there are far better options on the market today.
EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Like most people in the office, I have mixed feelings about the 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque coupe. As a Range Rover, the interior can be disappointing in terms of beauty and build quality and the like. Also as noted above, if you have kids, the coupe version is impractical.
But there's some good stuff here, too, particularly if one looks at the Evoque -- as I tend to -- as a go-anywhere do-anything all-weather hot(ish) hatch for a single person or empty nesters. Looked at that way, it's pretty cool.
The styling to my eye is terrific. And I was amazed at the response I got last night: A guy pulled up next to me at a light and asked all kinds of questions. He'd never seen one before. Nor had my neighbor. The thing's been out for what, a year? Why don't people know about it?
I like the way it drives, mostly -- taut and semi-sporty.
Power? It's not fast exactly, but I'd say there's some fun to be had once the turbo gets with the program; though yeah, there is some lag. It kind of reminds me of a Volkswagen GTI from a few generations ago.