I don’t like peas. As a child, my British mom forced me to eat peas (Britons love those confounded plant pellets) was I told how good they were for me and that eating them would make me healthy and strong. No matter whether they were mushy, from a can, or fresh, I just didn’t like peas.
Now that I’m a little older, wiser, and less stubborn I’ve sort of warmed up to the idea of ingesting peas for the sake of nourishment. They’re not that bad, they’re quite good actually, and as long as they’re paired with mash or some other more favourable veggie, I’ll tolerate them.
I don’t like the Range Rover Evoque, or rather, I didn’t. I didn’t like its “from concept to reality” design. I didn’t like the fact that Posh Spice had “a hand” in designing its interior. I didn’t believe that it was “a real Rangey”. I didn’t like the puny-by-Range-Rover-standards interior and most of all, I didn’t like that it is based on a Land Rover Freelander.
But like my erstwhile stubbornness to even consider peas a form of healthy goodness, my dismissive dislike for the Evoque has changed somewhat now that I have driven the baby Rangey. Like most hacks, who don’t like to hear “I told you so”, but in this case the humble pie is quite tasty.
So what if the Evoque is based on the Freelander? That’s not a bad thing. You can’t say you love Eggs Benedict, but can’t stand a poached egg on toast, because those are essentially the same. Range Rover simply took a reliable and capable compact SUV and smothered it in Hollandaise sauce.
The interior in no way resembles that of a Freelander and is as plush as Jaguar’s finest cabins. There’s enough tech to keep even fiddly gadget-obsessed whizz kids entertained, and there’s space for a family, albeit with that rakish roofline, only just. The 2,2-litre diesel engine is on par or better than those of rivals in this segment and the automatic gearbox goes about its business in the most inoffensive way – smooth, reactive, polite even. The tastiest part though, is the way it rides and handles which for want of a better word, is exceptional.
For the nitpickers, there are few barely noticeable shortcuts, like smatterings of hard plasticky bits that certainly unbecoming of Range Rover, but remember the Evoque doesn’t cost over a mil’ as Grand Daddy Range Rovers do, this is plus minus R600k of Range Rover money, and considering the Evoque will turn many more heads than its established stablemate, it’s undoubtedly a small price to pay.
And no matter how fine a dish Rage Rover has served up in the Evoque, I’m strangely still no fan of it. Nevertheless, I will rather accept it for what it is – an excellent marketing exercise. That a brand can bring what is a truly conceptual design to reality, should really be of greater concern to its competitors, because the gauntlet has been thrown down. If Range Rover can design and then build something as futuristic as the Evoque, then what the hell is everyone else doing? Making hideous BMW X1s, that’s what.
I’ll also accept that for a motor manufacturing company to prosper, it needs to diversify and in the case of Jaguar Land Rover, attract new buyers away from the cheaper mainstream brands and to its premium brand. Range Rover used to appeal to “old money” types only; customers who’d had enough of cannon fodder commuting and who, simply want the best, most luxurious and most imposing vehicle money could buy.
The reality is that those “old money” customers have become few and far between and the competition is stiff. With the Evoque though, Range Rover now has access to younger buyers, a clientele that the brand will hopefully hold onto as tightly as it can so as to sell them Sport or Vogue models in the not-too-distant future. To put it another way, the Evoque is to Range Rover what GP2 Series is to Formula 1.
Do I love peas? No. Do I love the Range Rover Evoque? Not really. Why? Well, it’s just not my cup of tea, and if you don’t mind, I’ll hack a famous quote into a suitable end to this rant.
“You can peas some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot peas all of the people all of the time”.