Fashionable Mobility | Range Rover Evoque (Dynamic)

BY Azfar Hashim

With a new 9-speed auto transmission, the Evoque’s desirability factor just went up a notch

Photos by Azfar Hashim

The Evoque, despite its age, remain as one of Singapore’s most desired model. It is still the car most aspiring young adults have in their list, and you cannot fault them, really. The genre-busting Evoque has the most stylish exterior, looking a cross between Sylvester Stallone and Channing Tatum. In fact, it is among the hottest things out of Britain; after The Rolling Stones and fish & chips.

It has the silhouette of an SUV, the cabin size of an SUV but surprisingly behaves more like a hot-hatch than an SUV it was meant to be. Sorry for the anti-climax, but that is what it is.

You see, it was an early morning drive to the Burnpavement office half of the week I had the Evoque. Ok, 5-plus-in-the-morning to be very precise; which also meant the roads were clear. To get to our Cecil Street office from my place in Tampines, I have to pass through an interesting mix of tight right-hand turns, wide left-hand corners, a series of long straights, a construction site that turned a three-lane road into a beautiful off-camber S-bend, then a nice piece of straight tarmac that goes up a flyover… I could go on describing this particular route in greater detail, but it would probably take two more weeks to write and you readers would probably take till Christmas to read it in totality.

So here is a good variety of condition. It then leads to the CTE, and later on to the beautiful left hook, Havelock Road exit, before heading into what must be Singapore’s most expensive car park, Golden Shoe (sidetrack: a full day’s parking costs, typically, $5,103.56. Or if your Cashcard does not have enough value, they do accept one cornea as payment at the exit. Should also explain why there are so many blind drivers within the CBD.)

Anyway, back to the plot. The Evoque was treated with much respect (in 'Dynamic' mode, no less): late braking, hard flicks, flooring the accelerator when traffic permits, taking corners like a hot-hatch. In other words, I drove it like I just stole it, went to rob a bank and am racing towards the Malaysian border — except I am (a) no where as buffed as Channing Tatum nor (b) as bad-ass as Stallone. Every single day for half a week, I drove that way. Journey to the office has not been this fun and fast (sorry Range Rover, the M235i still blew my mind moaarr).

And the Evoque, surprisingly, did all that without breaking a sweat. However, I would be lying if I did not mention the pronounced body roll; but it was not to a point where you feel like it was going to topple unglamorously.

There was an immense amount of grip courtesy of the Active Driveline (it swaps from front to four-wheel drive in a split second when it detects a sudden change in driving situation), Electronic Traction Control, Dynamic Stability Control and Roll Stability Control. But if you still prefer to remain ballsy Sir, the rear does actually kick out before correcting itself — as though the car was telling you, “Fine. Here, take this you dimwit”. The standard 20-inch alloys wrapped in 245/45 R-20 Michelin Latitude Sport rubber, specifically for the Dynamic pack seen here, definitely also helped provide the respectable amount of grip.

The turbocharged 2.0-litre powerplant seems properly tuned for this new ZF-sourced 9-speed transmission, and Range Rover obviously knew very well the potential of this Evoque — hence the standard paddle-shifter. It shifts up smoothly when driven ‘gently’, but when you swap over to ‘S’, ratios 1, 2 and 3 will fully extend close to the 7,000 rpm redline. And when you do drive it manually, it will not shift up automatically even when the needle is pointing at the redline; it will wait for you to shift up. This is unlike the Germans, which would usually intrude and shift up for you, most of the time even before hitting the limit. I passionately like this part about the Evoque — it leaves you truly in control.

With the three additional ratios over the first generation’s, the Evoque remains almost silent when cruising along the expressway. 120 km/h points at 1,900 rpm, ensuring you do not have to shout at your passengers during conversations.

One downside? The questionable response when you floor the accelerator. It seems the Evoque would pause for that few seconds - figuring out how many ratios it should shift down to - before finally deciding to drop either a gear or two. Hmm…

Interior wise, the Evoque offers a cabin that is very useful at ferrying three passengers at the rear in comfort, on top of a cockpit that is beautifully designed and put together. Perhaps some might find the amount of control buttons a tad overwhelming, but give it a few days, and it would be second nature. Typical British craftsmanship and opulence largely present all throughout: stitches lining the dashboard, chairs and perfectly sized steering wheel.

The audio head-unit however, reminded me of Beemeritis: it is the same audio head-unit system seen across the Jaguar Land Rover cars, and that makes things a little boring. It being placed at such an awkward angle does not help at all.

As a whole, the Evoque remains as one of the most complete set of wheels, this side of sub-$300k. While some might opine you can get other more exciting hyper cars for that money — namely the Golf R, CLA45 AMG/A45 AMG, M135i/M235i, S3/S3 Sedan — the Evoque should be on top of your list if you want proper power and grip, a commanding driving position and timeless style.

Oh, and you can go off-road with this one too.