Range Rover Evoque road trip

Road tripping on New Year ’s Eve just got better

“Welcoming the 2017 year was a bit different this time. It was some friends, the Oman-Dubai highway, a cake and a Range Rover Evoque!” said Ershad.

 

“The most important aspect of the Evoque is its design.”

“Evoque happily kept pace in the beach sands where we got a chance to test the innovative All Terrain Progress Control.”

“Wait for the SVR boffins to sprinkle some magic powder on the Evoque!”

Welcoming the 2017 New Year was a bit different this time. It was some friends, the Oman-Dubai highway, a cake and a Range Rover Evoque. New Year ’s Eve was capped with an extended weekend for us UAE souls and I had the keys to the Range Rover Evoque. A long weekend is definitely a chance for a long drive and we decided to drive down to Oman to enjoy the splendid weather. A friend and his family would be joining me on this trip, making the total headcount four. A driver plus three passengers is the best scenario in an Evoque and we made sure that the small luggage compartment was filled to the brim. Full load, a full tank of fuel and we flagged off ourselves to Oman.

The new eight-inch InControl Touch touchscreen system on the Evoque houses the entertainment and info center which now features easy swipe menus like those in current generation mobile phones. The navigation menu is typical Land Rover style and is more intuitive compared to previous gen models. The destination was set to Oman and the Evoque set off into the midnight trip.

The 240-hp four-pot turbocharged petrol engine is not very quick, but feels adequately powered. The nine-speed transmission works harmoniously with the engine to generate speed smoothly. Patches of fog are common in the UAE at this time of year and we expected the same during our drive as well. But alas, we were wrong! After an hour’s drive, patches of heavy fog lined long stretches of the highway and we could only maintain a maximum of 60 to 70 km/h where we could easily have maintained double the same normally. The Evoque now features full LED adaptive headlamps in lieu of the bi-xenon units on the older model and is the first Land Rover with this option. The DRLs now have a much more angular design with the indicator integrated into them. New slim LED fog lamps are positioned horizontally below the headlamp units and add to the sleek looks of the ever-stylish Evoque. The sleek fog lamps leave a lot of free space on the front bumpers, which are utilized to add dynamic and stylish contours. Even the powerful headlights could not help us in the fog as the light was getting dispersed too much into the dense fog. The tail lamp cluster is also updated with a full-LED package and looks akin to the updated bigger Range Rover cousins. 

The most important aspect of the Evoque is its design and it looks like extreme care has been put in to incorporating the facelifts into the stylish lines of the Evoque.

By dawn, the fog cleared and we were able to push the Evoque to freeway speeds. The interiors remain well damped from outside noise and the use of soft materials in the cabin enhances the luxury-cocoon feel. 20-inch wheels on the Evoque may seem like overkill but they look jaw dropping, especially in the new designs. The wide 245mm tires help in carrying serious corner speeds, but the overall crossover geometry plays with your mind at times. As expected, it’s not all silky-smooth roads and the Evoque transfers a good percentage of high speed road undulations into the cabin. A necessary evil with big wheels. Our passengers were especially annoyed whenever we hit a surprise rough patch at over 100 km/h speeds. There were also complaints of a lack-of-headroom feeling, which can make long runs uncomfortable for the rear-seat passengers. The sloping roof would be the prime offender here, but it is form over function. We reached our destination in the wee hours of the morning, and the Evoque and ourselves slipped into some much needed rest.

Our plan for the day was to explore some beaches, take a quick dip and get rid of the travel fatigue. The Evoque happily kept pace in the beach sands where we got a chance to test the innovative All Terrain Progress Control (ATPC). This system allows you to lock the speed between 1.8 km/h and 30 km/h and take care of maintaining the speed while the driver takes care of negotiating the terrain. It is a stress-reducing feature first seen on the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models. We did a small photo shoot of the Evoque at the beach and that is when I managed to observe some of the facelift details. The front grille now features hexagonal-mesh elements, which enhance the sporty and aggressive stance. Hood scoops, which were a feature on the three-door Evoque, now find their way into the five-door models as well. Towards the rear, the Evoque now features a redesigned spoiler with a wider and sleeker third brake lamp. The rear tailgate of the Evoque is now gesture-controlled, which means that waving your foot under the rear bumper controls the opening and closing of the tailgate; a feature which is finding its way into every other utility and crossover model. 

The evening was spent around the cornice areas and we were able to spend a good time browsing the souks and soaking in a bit of Oman heritage. The city roads were much less congested compared to holiday rush in UAE and the Evoque fit well into the urban jigsaw. Compact, stylish and efficient. 

The next day’s plan included climbing up some mountain roads and the Evoque handled it with aplomb. Quick direction changes were confident, but the engine needs to be pushed hard especially when going uphill. On the top, we were treated to picturesque views of the mountain sloping down into the sea. Downhill was much more fun as we played with the nine-speed transmission to utilize engine braking. After a quick lunch by the seaside, the plan was to head back to Dubai by late evening. 

We were back on the highway by 8 pm. Roads were surprisingly empty for a holiday and we were able to hold highway speeds. The Range Rover Evoque has its share of safety features like Lane Keep Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking and Attention Assist Estimation. The last feature detects driver drowsiness and emits audible and visual signals to alert the driver. I never had a chance to try that, but nevertheless a very useful feature from a safety point of view. The Evoque is capable of eating up miles with much less stress to the front seat occupants. But, the rear occupants may feel the need of a periodic stop just to ease out a bit. 

Somewhere along the highway we had a quick stopover for a New Year’s celebration. It was just us, the Evoque and a cake (sparing the occasional truck that zoomed past); the highway was pretty deserted. The Range Rover Evoque is a compact SUV best suited for urban environments. Quick runabouts and glamour what this little Range Rover is all about. Long drives are recommended, but for two people only! The recent facelift ups the ante and freshens up the already chic-looking Evoque.

Verdict

Since its introduction in 2011, the Evoque has been selling in good numbers and is a fast-selling model off the Range Rover shelves. Now let’s wait for the SVR boffins to sprinkle some magic powder on the Evoque.

Pros: Style Factor, efficient engine, compact package, excellent handling

Cons: Rear seat space, tiny boot, big wheels may affect off-road capability, no additional powertrains

Rivals: Mercedes-Benz GLA, Lexus NX 200T, Porsche Macan, Audi Q3, BMW X1

one word: easygoing 

3.5 stars 

Specs

2.0L turbocharged, inline 4-cylinder, 240 hp @ 5,800 rpm, 340 Nm @ 1,750 rpm

4WD, 9-speed auto

0-100 km/h: 7.6 sec, top speed: 217 km/h, fuel consumption: 7.8 L/100 km 

Weight: 1,633 kg

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