Test Drive: 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Dynamic

The Land Rover Range Rover Evoque may be into it fourth model year, but its concept-car rakish roofline, leering front end and butch stance still pack a visual wallop. Kudos to Land Rover design chief Gerry McGovern for bringing this compact luxury SUV to market as a near dead-ringer for the LRX concept that made its debut at the 2008 North American Auto Show in Detroit.

Has it been that long?

The Evoque sure has been good for Range Rover, finding over 160,000 buyers globally since the launch – and most of those new to the brand. Lots of women too, which is something Land Rover couldn’t brag about until this little cutie came along. Probably didn’t hurt to have Posh Spice (Victoria Beckham) aligned with the Evoque in the early days.

“I’m hot, a pop star, married to the hunkiest hunk of a soccer superstar, and am so skinny I have to run around the shower three times just to get wet. Be like me. Buy an Evoque.”

Okay, that wasn’t the exact tag line, but it could have been. In 2012 the Range Rover Evoque was named 2012 Women's Overall World Car of The Year and Women's Top World Luxury Car of the Year. Yeah, me neither.

The 2015 Evoque is available in both three-door and five-door configuration. This tester is the 5-Door Dynamic, which starts at $60,895, and is number four (and the most sporting) of the available six trim levels that range from $47,495 (Pure) to $64,595 (Autobiography). A bounty of extras raised the sticker of this lovely Orkney Grey specimen to $73,850 before freight and taxes.

Would this have Mrs. Beckham squirming in her Christian Louboutins? Hardly. You want style, you gotta’ pay. And this tester is nothing if not rolling haute voiture.

Adding a hint of sinister here is the $3,300 Black Design Package that bestows 20-inch gloss black nine-spoke black alloys, darkened fog lights and headlights, black exterior trim, black lettering, black exhaust tips and black spoiler. It does make for striking visuals.

It’s been a few years since I’ve spent time with an Evoque, and this refresher week was certainly… refreshing. Granted, the Evoque has its quirks, as ultimate cargo space and rearward visibility are sacrificed on the altar of style, but you can’t argue against its eager performance and driver-oriented disposition. This thing really does relish a good fling down a back road.

The Dynamic’s perforated Oxford leather sport seats are terrific, offering up an expert blend of body-hugging support and long distance comfort. The heated steering wheel (oh yeah!) is connected to a well-weighted rack that telegraphs a decent amount of road feel back to the driver. New for 2014 was active torque vectoring. The Evoque is one of the sharpest handling vehicles in the luxury compact crossover segment, but you’re paying for it with a busy ride. Tempering the latter in this tester is the $1,000 Adaptive Dynamics, which uses magnetically adaptive dampers (same technology as used by Ferrari, Audi and Corvette) to calm the ride and flatten the cornering. Check this box – it’s well worth it.

Surprisingly, this tester was still riding on its 245/45R20 Pirelli Scorpion all-season tires. Thankfully, the roads were dry and it didn’t snow. I’d have thought Land Rover would be the first manufacturer to put winter tires on all its press vehicles.

Built on the LR2 architecture and sharing its wheelbase, the Evoque is shorter, lower, wider and lighter thanks to a weight loss program that includes an aluminum hood and roof, aluminum suspension components and a plastic composite tailgate. At around 1,800 kg, the Evoque is a relative lightweight in this segment.

The interior is still holding its own four years on. Elegant and well crafted, it features the classic Range Rover wide centre console that rises over the contrasting horizontal elements of the dash. The controls are large, logical and glove friendly, and the eight-inch touchscreen is clear and intuitive, if dated. Jaguar/Land Rover has a new interface that hopefully will make it to the Evoque at some point.

The Jaguar/LR signature rotary shift knob that rises from the console on start up is as functional as it is unique. Also on the console are buttons for the Terrain Response. The five settings – Dynamic, General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand – optimize the AWD, throttle response, stability control and traction control for the selected conditions. Hill start assist and descent control are also included.

Not just for posing are these illuminated icons. Being part of the Land Rover family, this little tyke will walk the walk if Yolanda Yoga’s run to Yorkdale Mall happens to coincide with... oh, Armageddon. While her friends in their BMW X3s, M-B GLKs, and Audi Q5s are mired and high-centred, Yo-Yo’s 8.4 inches of ground clearance, aggressive approach and departure angles plus electronically controlled Haldex centre coupling will have her merrily hooning about the wreckage of her favourite shopping centre, looting willy-nilly from the smouldering remnants of Chanel, Birks and Holt Renfrew until the earth finally opens up and takes her screeching into is molten maw.

But I digress.

The Evoque is powered by a punchy Ford-sourced 2.0L turbo-four that sends its 240 hp and 250 lb-ft to all four wheels via a nine-speed ZF auto that can be shifted with steering wheel–mounted paddles. This tranny came on board last year, replacing the original six-speed. Acceleration and fuel economy are claimed to improve. The shifts are largely imperceptible, which is good because it does shuffle the cogs quite a bit when driving over hilly secondary roads. Once on the highway, it locks into ninth and resolutely stays there even when matting the throttle. The upside is a relaxed cruise with no tranny hunting – the downside is a lag when looking for quick passing power. All in the name of fuel economy of course.

Fuel consumption numbers for the Evoque are 11.3 L/100 km city and 7.9 highway on premium grade fuel. A new fuel saving feature that comes with the nine-speed ZF is the ability to uncouple the rear wheels at speeds below 35 km/h - if all-wheel drive is not needed. This is for reduced consumption while tooling around town. My week ended up at 11.0 L/100 km.

One gripe concerns the seat heater calibration. Even on the lowest of the three settings, my wife and I were getting nicely sautéed.

This Dynamic model layers an impressive 825-watt 17-speaker Meridian audio system, assertive exterior trim, illuminated tread plates, proximity key, adaptive xenon headlights with cool LED signatures and cornering lamps on top of such niceties as powered liftgate, rearview camera and fixed panoramic sunroof. Additionally, the Dynamic’s interior gets a darker treatment with specific trim.

As is the way with most pricey premium products from across the pond, you’ll still be paying extra for things like satellite radio ($450), heated rear seats ($500), adaptive cruise control ($1500) and metallic paint $1200. This tester also sported the $1200 Driver Tech package (blind spot monitor, lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition) and a rear seat entertainment package ($2,000).

Indeed, the Evoque now a has a few more competitors crowding its rearview mirror, but its unique combination of off road ability, luxury, blacktop acumen and, perhaps most importantly, enduring runway good looks, continue to make this smallest of Range Rovers an intriguing proposition. For a price, of course.

Warranty:
4 years/80,000 km; 4 years/80,000 km powertrain; 6 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 4 years/80,000 km 24-hour roadside assistance

Competitors:
Audi Q3
BMW X1
Infiniti QX50
Lexus NX
Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class

2015 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Dynamic
articles_PricingType 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Dynamic
Base Price $60,895
Optional Equipment Metallic paint $1,200; Adaptive Dynamics $1,000; satellite radio $450; Cirrus Headliner $275; heated rear seats $500; contrasting black roof $730; Parallel Park (with Parking Exit, Perpendicular Park) $800; Black Design Package $3,300; Adaptive Cruise Control $1,500; Driver Tech Package $1,200; Rear Seat Entertainment Package $2,000
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,575
Price as Tested $75,525
Optional Equipment
10 0
Scoring breakdowns 8.2
10 Exterior Styling
8 Performance
9 Interior
7 Comfort
7 Fuel Economy