Enter The New Evocative Baby Range Rover


Why is it said that “life begins at 40?” Perhaps after wading through life’s challenges with youthful naivety and the steep learning curve of adulthood, you should have learnt to separate the truth from the lies as you begin your fifth decade.

Land Rover, typically a masculine brand, has been building heavy, tough and luxurious 4x4s for decades. With numbers remaining relatively low when compared to rivals, they have decided to build a game-changer that targets a whole new breed of driver and is focused on the discerning and successful female with an active lifestyle.

Last week, I got a chance to test-drive the all-new baby Range Rover, creatively christened Evoque, it is as evocative as it is involving. It looks great from every angle but the rear is in particular, an acquired taste that will take getting used to. While it is smaller than the Ranger Rover Sport and Freelander 3, it seats four and will squeeze a fifth and still look exquisite in both five and three-door version.

I had the privilege of being the first Kenyan journalist to get an extensive feel of the Evoque on a visit to the manufacturing plant in Liverpool, the port city where they promise ‘nobody will ever walk alone’. I drove off in the company of my colleague from Nigeria in search of the truth about the Evoque’s ability as a premium vehicle.

While Range Rover successfully captures the pulse of almost every metropolis in the world, can it build a case for growing cities like Nairobi, Jo’burg and Cape Town? It was taken to 40 cities around the world and has been linked to celebrities and opinion shapers. Already, about 18,000 units have been pre-sold, a few of those bound for Kenya.

After the long scenic drive to North Wales on a variety of road surfaces over two days, I covered enough ground to confidently vouch that this cute little number is suitable for both men with a sensible side as it is for women of refined taste. Kenya is a country where big and expensive sells more than small and cute. Who, in our image-conscious country cares for a fuel efficient Range Rover that does not cost more than everything else on the road?

The Range Rover brand recently turned 40 and should know a thing or two about selling premium cars. Their decision to attract a new breed of customers with a vehicle that breaks the mould should bear fruit. While it is believed that everybody loves the security and ego-boosting ability of a large gigantic 4×4, the truth of the matter is that not all really use or need a go-anywhere SUV, most of the time.

Everybody wants to be seen as different and the Evoque offers you 12 exterior colours, two body styles and the option of a white roof. You can choose various quality finishes on the inside from soft leather to metal brushed aluminium. You will have access to two of three design themes, Pure, Prestige and Dynamic in three-door coupé or 5-door. The latter is more practical and offers more headroom at the back.

I had the opportunity to cruise on the smooth motorway at speeds in excess of 165kph without a hint of anxiety. An off road section was also designed to show us how well it could handle grass, mud as well as pools of water. The scariest part was when we were led into a three-mile long, dark and abandoned underground tunnel. With only the LED lights to illuminate the way we were sent through slug and rocks and the Evoque waded through half a metre deep water to emerge on the other end without even breaking a sweat. I was impressed.

Built for economy

Land Rover’s terrain response features prominently in this city centric vehicle and comes in handy when navigating down steep slopes. Hill Decent Control (HDC) requires your absolute faith in technology as you are expected to lift your feet off the pedals and let the on-board computer break the engine and ease the vehicle down to the bottom of the slope.

The Evoque is not built for speed but economy. You can choose one of two available engines, a spirited 2.0 turbo-charged petrol able to muster 237bhp and rush you to a top speed of 217kph. Your preferred choice might lean towards the fuel-efficient SD4 2.2 turbo diesel that manages amazing fuel economy of 6.5litres every 100 kilometres or 15 kilometres covered for every litre. It will only cost me only Sh8,000 to get my entire family with luggage to the coast and back. You will not be embarrassed taking off at the lights either as it will sprint from 0-100kph in just 7.6 seconds on petrol and 8.5 seconds with the diesel engine.

Does being over 40 and eyeing the Evoque mean I am going soft or suffering from a mild bout of a mid life crisis? If yes, then I don’t mind that crisis because I urgently need the Evoque to liven up my less than evocative life.



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