Its 6.30 am on a November morning and I am about to start my longest road trip ever. A 950 kms journey from Mumbai to the Rann of Kutch. What better vehicle for such an endeavor than the most stylish SUV in the world. Yes, I am talking about the Range Rover Evoque, A car that it’s ultra-contemporary styling brilliantly redefined what an SUV should look like. It looks like a unique crossover, the nose seems to have two levels, below the grill it looks like a traditional SUV and above it looks like a stretched coupe. Add to this the aggressive styling, full LED headlights, color contrasting bonnet vents, angular roofline and you have an SUV that literally turns heads. With a bright color (orange to be precise) like that of my test vehicle, we got the attention of that of a sports car.
Our route takes us from the heart of Mumbai to the Gujarat border to the industrial town of Ankleshwar to Vadodara all on the smooth tar laden NH-8 highway. The icing on the cake were the overpasses and curves which the Evoque took on effortlessly with its tight steering and agile handling. It made me forget that I was driving a 2 ton SUV. Vadodara to Ahmedabad was on the NE1 or the National Expressway 1, which unlike the expressway back home is of tar and not concrete. Ahead of me was 100 kms of a straight road just begging to push the accelerator. And so I did, under the hood is a 2.2 liter turbocharged Diesel that churns out 190 bhp and 420 nM of torque, the engine is mated with a 9 speed ZF automatic transmission which further smoothes the already refined engine. The Evoque is a lovely cruiser, at 110 kms/hr the big cat seemed to glide over the roads while the engine slowly hummed at 1800 Rpm in the ninth gear. From Ahmedabad to Bhuj we touched upon small villages, towns, a lot of windmills, barren deserts that time has barely touched on. Most of the journey was on a six lane highway which at times had no man, animal or vehicle till the horizon.
The Range Rover Evoque sits comfortably high on 19-inch wheels. Having driven for 400 kms in one go, just some stretches followed by a dose of caffeine and all of us in the car were ready to take the next 500 odd kilometers. The cabin is unmistakably Range Rover, a precise cocktail of polished metal and soft leather. Keeping in sync with the times there is also mood lighting. At the center of the dash is a brand new infotainment system and a 8 inch touchscreen which lets you control the entertainment, navigation, connections and other features of the car. Come evenings and the panoramic sunroof flooded the cabin with soft light as we opened it to catch the beautiful sunsets or just gaze at the clear night sky.
We even put the terrain management system as we drove the Evoque into a deep limestone mine on the outskirts of Bhuj. Steep slopes, gravel, muck, nothing could stop the Evoque, all I had to do was to choose out of the driving modes and I was effortlessly going on terrain which challenged even the most seasoned local drivers.
The best way to test a car properly is to live with it, 7 days and 2,200 kms later I can say that the Evoque is the complete package. It is practical, comfortable, efficient, fun to drive and good looking. An ideal companion for me and my family for this road trip.
A big thank you to Jaguar Land Rover India.