Off-road marque goes soft
THE last bastion of the genuine four-wheel drive has finally conceded defeat.
Land Rover, through its premium Range Rover brand, recently joined the rush to city-focused SUVs, releasing its first two-wheel drive vehicle in Australia.
But that's not the only big headline for the newest member of the Evoque family - it's the price.
Starting at $49,995 (plus on road costs) it is the cheapest Range Rover you can buy.
This five-door version is only $305 more expensive than a Land Rover Defender 110, while you can get a three-door version for $51,495.
But just because it's the Range Rover you can afford, does that mean it's the Range Rover you want?
For the money you get the same standard equipment as the $53,395 all-wheel drive TD4 "Pure" trim model - as well as the same head-turning looks that has made the Evoque one of the most talked about cars in recent years.
Pure trim means 17-inch alloy wheels, partial leather seats, leather steering wheel and gear stick, manually adjustable front seats, climate control air conditioning, cruise control, rear parking sensors, five-inch touch-screen infotainment unit, eight-speaker stereo and Bluetooth with phone and audio connectivity.
Safety includes drive and front passenger airbags, a driver's knee bag and side curtains for both rows; plus stability control.
The only thing missing is Land Rover's terrain response system - which is replaced by a silver finished piece of trim bearing the Evoque name.
The 2WD Evoque retains the same driving dynamics as the all-wheel drive model in all but slippery conditions.
If you stay on sealed roads and it doesn't rain, only an expert would be able to notice any real difference in how the car performs.
If you push it hard around a bend you'll detect a hint of torque steer (a front-wheel drive trait where the steering wheel tugs in your hands) but it's only noticeable when push hard. Driven sensibly there's nothing to split the two.
The gearbox action is simple and smooth, with a relatively short throw.
First gear is short and you'll need to work the gears regularly to keep the engine in the sweet spot.
Engine:2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Bottom line: From $49,995 plus on-road costs