The big floods in Mumbai this year? No, I wasn’t there; there’s no heroic story of the Evoque wading through waist high water to get me home while the rest of the city was left stranded. I was safe and dry in Pune, but the next day I drove to Mumbai – a day that the Met department said would still be wet. My wife said I was mad but the thing is when you have an SUV, particularly an SUV that says Range Rover on the bonnet, you’re infused with a sense of confidence. A feeling that rain or shine, nothing’s going to stop you. Heck, nothing’s going to slow you down… except, of course, for traffic. (This is an SUV, not a plane!)
That’s what two months with the Evoque did to me, two months of the heaviest rainfall I’ve seen in Pune for the past few years, and two months of dramatically worsening roads and associated gridlock. It reinforced my (strongly-held) belief that India is a country for SUVs – we have poor drainage, we have horribly maintained roads, we have horrid traffic discipline, and only an SUV can deal with those problems. When you have an Evoque at least you have a smile on your face dealing with all this nonsense.
Here’s what I truly consider to be the Evoque’s biggest asset (and I can safely generalise this for the entire Range Rover line-up): it makes you feel good. Colleagues of mine have very strong opinions on the Evoque, they think it is too small, trades and panders too much to current fashions to be a proper man’s SUV. But I think they’re wrong. Its size actually is a boon when it comes to dealing with and squeezing through traffic but because it rides high, because it looks expensive, you don’t get bullied around as you would when you drive a smaller car. You can go for gaps, confident that others will make way for you (except if it’s a big, fat white 4×4 – you got to pick your battles). It makes the stress of traffic a little less stressful.
Other plus points? The Evoque also has good ride quality, a massive improvement over the spec with which it was first introduced in India. It can easily take potholes without requiring you to slow down and when I did hit a nasty ditch (or three!) there were no punctures, or bent rims, or even rattles to complain about. This new Ingenium 2-litre diesel engine has enough grunt to keep it going at a fair lick though the new 9-speed gearbox is a let-down being too lazy for a modern gearbox and at times delivering unpleasant jolts. I think the extra cogs in the gearbox are there to bump up fuel efficiency though, for something so small, the real world fuel efficiency (hovering around 10.5kmpl) isn’t anything to write home about. If I’m being pedantic I must also say that I can’t understand why a car designed in a right-hand drive country has its bonnet opening lever on the left – it’s quite irritating asking the guard at the hotel entrance to come over to the passenger side and crank the bonnet lever. And why does it still not get Apple CarPlay?
Back to the good stuff and the joys of the full-length glass roof. Sunroofs I think are a bad idea, there so many idiots letting their kids poke their heads out of the sunroof that it should be banned in my opinion. A glass roof is fantastic though. It makes the cabin nice and airy, is awesome when the rain pitter-patters on the roof and the opaque cover cuts out the sun when the rain clouds retreat. Most of all the Evoque.