Vancouver to Whistler Canada - Land Rover is known for canvassing the horizons to find a new way to show journalists that their newest car is tougher than the competition, yet as cuddly as a teddy bear in luxury and warmth.
This trip started in urban Vancouver, Canada's San Francisco by the Bay. The Evoque is meant for urban areas, meant to conquest sales from the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLK buyers. It will conquest from those vehicles and more. Just ask Kate and Mary, the Olsen twins.
In a time when everyone is watching the Dow Jones and every penny they own the Olsen twins came out with a $39,000 alligator backpack that sold out in days. Days. $39,000. For a backpack. What that tells me is that there are people in this world that are ready to spend their money. And if they can find $39,000 to buy a backpack they can certainly find $45,000 to buy a Range Rover Evoque.
Land Rover was strategic in its marketing. Blazoned across the front of the Evoque grille were the words Range Rover. Range Rover is the Olsen twins backpacks of cars. Functionality and ultra-luxury attributes at a starting price of $80,000. Or two Olsen twin backpacks.
The Evoque has been citified. Think Mini Cooper countryman on steroids. It is 17 inches shorter than the big V8-powered Range Rover. It's hair (or rooftop) is raked back like it was placed in a wind tunnel room with 825 watts of Meridian surround sound and seventeen speakers going full blast. The liftgate is the first in Land Rover history to have power lift.
The three-door coupe ($44,995) and five-door ($43,995) configurations are molded off the Land Rover LR2 platform. The Evoque was shown as a coupe concept, named LRX. The coupe and the 5-door are the same length. The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo charged direct injection engine makes 240 horsepower and 250 lb.-ft of torque.
Thanks to the design, the engine, and the better power-to-weight ratio EPA says the Evoque gets the best fuel economy, 18 city /28 highway mpg, of any Range Rover in history.
Land Rover gives you the option to buy dynamic driving. The torque curve is changed, the suspension is stiffened. You can change the shift points in the transmission by moving the rotary gear selector on the center console from D(rive) to S(port).
With the click of a button on the center console you can have one of four Terrain Response settings: General Driving (on-road and easy off-road); Grass/Gravel/Snow (slippery conditions, on-and-off-road); Mud and Ruts; and Sand. If you have the dynamic option you would activate it from the same place.
Land Rover was the first car company to offer Hill Descent Control (HDC) and Gradient Release Control (GRC). When HDC is engaged it automatically restricts speed downhill using the anti-lock brakes. GRC is linked to HDC, and progressively releases the brakes on very steep or more gradual slopes.
The Evoque's purchasing presence isn't off-roading. But like people that are born into a certain DNA the Evoque has off-roading capabilities running through its transmission fluid. We bumbled over the mud and ruts of Blackcomb mountain. We angled our way through tiny ravines, our MagneRide shock absorbers optimizing the brunt of the weight 1,000 times per second. The little city slicker held its on and you could see the Senior Range Rover in the corner crossing its axles with pride.
Bob Burns, the guru of Land Rover off-roading and our sherpa for the day said the Evoque can do about eighty percent of what a Range Rover can do. Burns, and Land Rover, were the first to tell me about treadlightly.org. Tread Lightly was started by the Forest service, just like Smokey the Bear. Tread Lightly's mission was responsible recreation and off-roading. It's now a non-profit, supported by companies such as Ford, Land Rover, Nissan, Toyota and Jeep groups.
The interior is a selling point for Land Rover. Soft, plush leather surrounds you as you nestle yourself in the driver or passenger seat. All the controls are intuitive, or easy to understand. Each time a person gets in the car there is a gray circle. If the car starts and the passenger doesn't have their safety belt on the circle turns red, otherwise it turns green.
There is mood lighting with a choice of five different colors, or not, depending on your mood. If the Dynamic Mode is selected, a red color fills the interior. LED lights come on around the doors in the dark, but the light that will make your kids think you're really cool is the puddle light. Remember the light that used to shine on Gotham City whenever Batman had done something good for all mankind? The Evoque has a laser-etched Evoque light that shines outside the side mirror, so that you don't step into a puddle.
But more amazing is the David Copperfield magic trick of the Panaramic sunroof. Where does that thing go? The sunroof is the length of the car, and when you press the button to close it the roof partitions just keep coming and coming out of this little area in the back. It's very cool to sit in the back and watch it.
But if you sit in the back you won't have heated seats. Those are saved for the two front seats only. One other missing luxury piece is a power steering column. Still manual.
There are three trim levels to choose from: Pure, Prestige and Dynamic
Pure is Land Rover's chief designer Gerry McGoverns favorite. It combines the coupe concept exterior with a stylish, pure, simple forms of the cabin architecture.
Prestige – Land Rover says the Prestige is the Ultimate Range Rover luxury, combining a bespoke exterior that includes 19-inch wheels and sparkling metallic details with softest oxford leather.
Dynamic – A bold sporty exterior with unique bumpers, sills, grille and tailpipes accenting the stance of the vehicle. Contrasting roof and spoiler colors are available. The premium sports interior is offered in dark colors to create a bolder environment.
Ninety percent of the Evoque uses new parts. Thirty-five pounds of those new parts are recycled plastic, which is the equivalent of 500 plastic bottles. Ninety-five percent of the car is able to be recycled.
The Evoque will garner more purchases in the urban areas because of its measurements and it style. Unless you are planning to off-road the Rubicon the $45,000 Evoque will do just fine. And you'll have enough change left over to upgrade the bits and pieces to ultimate luxury, or to buy a backpack.