I had a brief opportunity to drive the new Range Rover Evoque last month, very brief, and was hoping to have another opportunity again before I wrote about it because, quite frankly, you don’t get much of feel for a vehicle in less than a half-an-hour behind the wheel.
But the marketing people who paid for my lunch would like it if I mentioned it, so I will.
After all they were kind enough to bring in the designer, Gerry McGovern, over from England to talk about it.
He’s an interesting chap -- see how the Brit influence takes over; that’s the first time I can ever recall writing the word “chap” in ages-- and had done a remarkable job in giving one of the most iconic automotive shapes -- the boxy, muscular Range Rover -- enough of a twist to appeal to a totally different customer from those who usually show up in Land Rover showrooms.
Thus the Evoque has a more rakish roofline than you usually are apt to find in Land Rover (see above where the Ranger Rover you’re used to seeing is on the right and the Evoque in the middle; just click on the picture for a larger view).
It fits in more with the urban environment that most of us find ourselves in these days as opposed to the cross-country safaris Land Rovers are identified with.
In that, it has a lot of technological feature that will adapt to today’s iPhones and MP3 players and whatever else is coming in the future.
At the same time, it still is a Range Rover, the smallest, lightest, and most fuel-efficient in the lineup.
It comes in Pure, Dynamic, and Prestige trim, both featuring a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and sends 240 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque to an all-wheel-drive system. Fuel economy is estimated at 18 mph city, 28 highway.
Pricing starts at $43,995 for the Pure Plus five-door model, $44,995 for the coupe.
It doesn’t have the full off-road capability of other more established (and more expensive) Range Rover models with their low-range gearing for treks over the mountains and through the woods, but it doesn’t embarrass itself off pavement either.
Getting back to McGovern, he’s an interesting guy who started off his automotive designing career with Chrysler. He has worked with several different marques, including Land Rover back in the ’80s, and now is back with the company.
Our lunch conversation covered many topics, including my appreciation for the British mystery television mystery series Foyle’s War and his appreciation for the TV series Rome.
He has a wry sense of humor as illustrated by this story.
At one point, I mentioned something that iconic automotive executive Bob Lutz had said a few years ago about the much-ridiculed Pontiac Aztec. Lutz said if the Aztec had come from Honda it would have been heralded by the media as a great hit.
I asked McGovern if he knew Lutz, and he does, in a casual way. Turns out they have the same tailor in London.
On one of Lutz’ visits, the tailor asked him if he knew Gerry McGovern.
“Yes, I do, and I’ve never seen him in a decent suit yet,” Lutz said in his customary booming style.
I asked McGovern what the tailor had replied.
“He just sort of smiled and said that would be changing now,” McGovern said.