2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Walk Around

The new Evoque is the smallest Range Rover ever, and as noted it's the smallest vehicle in its class. This, plus the sloping roof, does restrict interior volume compared to key competitors. On the other hand, diminutive dimensions are a plus in urban environments, as well as in rugged terrain.

The Evoque three-door coupe and five-door bodies are nearly identical in dimensions. They ride on the same 104.8-inch wheelbase. They are the same overall length, 171.5 inches. They are the same width: 83.7 inches including the mirrors, 77.4 inches with the mirrors folded. Measuring 64.4 inches tall, the five-door models are 1.2 inches taller than the coupes at 63.2 inches.

The Evoque's sassy exterior design began with the LRX, a three-door concept unveiled at the 2008 North American International Automobile Show in Detroit. It was intended primarily as a statement by the company's new design chief, Gerry McGovern, and production possibilities were very much a wait-and-see proposition.

With its back-slanting roofline, rising beltline, and short overhangs, the LRX looked a little like a large scale Mini Cooper, an impression fortified by the option of contrasting roof colors, a design distinction the Mini has used effectively.

But uniformly enthusiastic response by show-goers quickly moved the LRX out of the dream car category into production reality.

Based on the compact Land Rover LR2 platform, the two models share the same 108.4-inch wheelbase. But at 171.4 inches long, the Evoque is shorter than the LR2, its sloping roofline is some four to five inches lower, and it's distinctly wider, 77.4 inches versus 75.1.

That combination, relatively low roofline, wide stance, not much vehicle extending beyond the axles at either end, gives the Evoque an eager, sporty look that's unique in this class.

The minimum ground clearance, 8.5 inches, is at the front axle; rear axle clearance adds an inch, and the Evoque can safely ford water up to 19.7 inches deep without inhaling any of it.

The downside to the Evoque's dramatic styling is at the rear of the vehicle. The sloping roofline and ascending beltline conspire to compromise rearward vision, and sightlines in the rear quarters are limited.

On the other hand, if style wasn't important, we'd all be driving cars that look like the old Checker Marathon taxicabs. For someone who wants a compact luxury crossover that's a departure from the rectilinear mainstream, the Evoque merits a longer look.

A plethora of color combinations with two tones and different roof colors is available.

Interior

Consistent with other Range Rovers, the Evoque is handsomely appointed and attractively designed, with excellent materials and exemplary fit and finish.

An 8-inch info screen dominates the dashboard, the control layout has no mysteries, and there's the by-now expected array of telematics. We found the navigation system exceptionally easy to use. And the five-camera system that shows what's going on 360 degrees around the vehicle is very handy in tight places.

None of the foregoing is surprising. The surprising part is interior roominess. That sloping roof might suggest limited rear seat headroom, but that's not the case, even in the three-door coupe. The Evoque has 39.7 inches of headroom in the back seats, while the Coupe has 38.2 inches. Passengers over six-foot-two might find their hair brushing the ceiling, but leg room is plentiful and the Evoque's brawny width creates plenty of room, front and rear, to squirm around on longish trips. The Evoque has 40.3 inches of headroom in the front seats, the Evoque Coupe has 39.1 inches of front-seat headroom.

As noted earlier, the only caveat is the center rear seating position. The Evoque has places for five, but its center rear seat is a spot you'd reserve for people you didn't like. It's comfortable for four, not five.

Diminutive dimensions do have one other drawback, and that's cargo capacity. The Evoque five-door offers 20 cubic feet of stowage with the rear seats up, 51 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat, less than any of the German competition. For contrast, the Mercedes GLK, the next size up, offers 23 cubic feet behind the rear seats, 55 cubic feet with the seats folded down. The Evoque Coupe offers 47.6 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded. Evoque has 20.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, the Coupe has 19.4 cubic feet.

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