The premium crossover marketplace has a heap of products calling out for the bucks of Canadians, and arguably, none turns heads rolling down

The premium crossover marketplace has a heap of products calling out for the bucks of Canadians, and arguably, none turns heads rolling down the road as easily as the Range Rover Evoque. One’s eyes would tire before identifying all of the intricate shapes and lines and textures, and the accented, sculpted bits that set the Evoque’s body apart with a nearly concept-car look. The stance and fascias convey a sense of eager, adventure-ready alertness. In all, it’s a remarkable-looking machine, with styling worth celebrating. In my locale, seeing one is something a bit special, and it’s definitely not a machine that’ll blend into the sea of X3’s and RDX’s and SRX’s on one’s daily drive.

The interior is similarly unique and striking, with an easygoing and clean luxury look favoured over an excessively techy one. The dash on the top-grade tester was trimmed in stitched leather and sloped away from the driver for a bigger sense of space, with a steeply-raked centre console offering pass-through storage beneath. A tasteful, casually-upscale blend of leather and stitching and aluminum and glossy black accents creates an environment that’s relaxing. It’s more ‘khakis and a golf shirt’ than ‘suit and tie’ luxury on board.

Don’t miss the signature dial shifter, which rises from the dash when the engine is started, or the punchy and potent Meridian audio system, which kicks your eardrums in the face and gives them an atomic wedgie.

You’ll find space for four adults, though relatively small rear door openings mean entry is fairly tight. Overall passenger roominess is adequate, not abundant. Ditto the cargo hold: there’s little issue if you pack lightly, though it does fill up quickly. Visibility and headroom are both better than your writer expected, given the low-looking roof line.

The loaded-to-the-nines tester also got the latest in hazard-detection technology, including Forward Collision Alert. The latter impressed your writer by not being overly sensitive, not causing numerous false alarms, and not reducing confidence in the system, and also, by detecting real collision threats with time to spare, twice, on my watch. One of these was caused by being cut off ahead of a red light, the other by a momentary lapse in attention as I tried to find something else on the radio. By monitoring your closing rate on the next vehicle in traffic, your speed, and your current pedal engagement situation, the system makes a call as to when to alert you to hit the brakes, before you’re thinking of hitting the brakes. It’s well set up indeed.

Ditto the Auto Stop system, which shuts the engine down when it would otherwise be idling, reducing fuel use. Many Auto Stop systems make plenty of noise and a hearty shudder through the vehicle as a high-powered starter motor works to achieve millisecond engine restarts, though Evoque’s system is quiet, very smooth, and all but imperceptible if the stereo is on, even a little. This is how Auto Stop should be set up.
So, two very well-executed examples of high-tech.

All models run a 2.0L turbo four-cylinder, packing 240 horsepower and slightly more torque. It’s a solid all-around performer: easy-breezy low-rpm pulling power for daily traffic, and power to spare when a boot drops on the throttle, accompanied by a mildly-pleasing hum. The acceleration won’t leave you feeling as though you’ve been punched in the schnoz like a Top Gear producer, but the deep, torque-rich reserves for passing and merging are appreciable.

Most shoppers will find this so-called Si4 engine to be adequate all around, a good thing since it’s the only powerplant available. Mileage on my watch, including plenty of city, highway and off-road driving in the cold, landed at 11 L/100 km.

During some light off-road driving, the Evoque had few issues finding traction across a variety of late-winter backroads surfaces including ice, snow, peanut-buttery mud, slush, and varying combination thereof. Short overhangs and decent clearance beneath minimize the likelihood of whacking the underbelly on obstacles, though my test drive primarily focused on watching the clever four-wheel drive system optimize traction confidently on a variety of slippery and loose surfaces.

A Terrain Response system is provided, allowing drivers to engage special modes for specific surfaces, though left in the all-purpose AUTO setting, I noted few issues finding traction, and also an impressive tendency for the system to almost never slip a tire, instead sending power where it can be used more effectively. The ABS is similarly slick – and keeps the Evoque stopping predictably and in a straight line, almost no matter what’s passing beneath.

There are those who call machines like the Evoque a Mall Crawler, though with proper tires, it should handle off-road conditions beyond what most owners will put it through with relative ease.

Other notes? The tester’s ride proved busy and sharp on broken pavement and springtime potholes, though fans of something stable and responsive in corners are likely to accept the tradeoff to ride quality. A quick and slightly-heavy steering adds confident liveliness to the equation, and the short body and stiff suspension contribute to an overall feeling of energetic handling for the driving enthusiast. Comfort enthusiasts are advised to seek out an Evoque model with smaller wheels.

The lighting system, comprised of steerable xenon projectors and a washer system provided fantastic visibility on several after-dark backroads jaunts, with notably good treeline-penetrating peripheral lighting. Further, the heated steering wheel gets firey hot on cold mornings in quick order.

End of the day, Evoque Autobiography will find favour with shoppers after stand-out, concept car looks, a gorgeously trimmed cabin, and above-average capability in a luxury compact crossover. The long list of available advanced features, many of which are fine examples of how advanced features should be executed, should help seal the deal for techy folks. Largely, and especially where styling and exemplary use of high-tech is concerned, there’s nothing quite like an Evoque.

One cross-shopping note, however: depending on equipment levels and budget considerations, the Evoque can land in the pricing territory of the Porsche Macan, which is less striking looking and less abundant in feature content, though it packs 100 more horsepower and a more pleasing performance experience all around. For shoppers willing to give up on some luxury and high-tech features in exchange for higher performance, it’s more than worth a look.

If you’re in the market, be sure to cross-shop the Evoque against other athletic luxury crossovers, especially the Porsche Macan and BMW X4.

Warranty:
4 years/80,000 km; 4 years/80,000 km powertrain; 6 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 4 years/80,000 km 24-hour roadside assistance

Competitors:
BMW X4
Porsche Macan

Specifications

Model Tested 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Autobiography 5-Door   Destination Fee $1,575
Base Price $64,595   Price as Tested $72,070
A/C Tax $100  
Optional Equipment
Metallic Paint ($1,200), Satellite Radio ($495), Colour Contrast Roof ($650), Advanced Parking System ($800), Adaptive Cruise Control ($1,500), Driver Tech Package ($1,200)