In The City — 03 February 2012
Land Rover Evoque Test Drive

 The new Range Rover Evoque pushes all the right buttons

Three shiny new Range Rover Evoques sat parked on the grass of the Kampong botanical garden in Coconut Grove. It was like a car commercial come to life. Another Evoque had been backed into the building that had once been the home of Dr. David Fairchild, after whom the more famous Coconut Grove garden was named. The only thing missing was a giant red bow on its roof.

I was led back out to the driveway and introduced to Lea Magee, an off-road driving consultant. More Evoques were parked out here. With their patterned grills and sloping roofs, they had a kind of rugged luxuriousness. The vehicular equivalent of a streamlined bulldog.

I chose the green one, though only for a test drive. Lea adjusted the driver’s seat, and then the steering wheel, until I was immeasurably comfortable. After climbing into the passenger seat, he showed me the buttons to push depending on the terrain. He pointed out the screen, which showed our geographical location. But it could also – thanks to five tiny cameras mounted on the vehicle – show us the road in front and behind us. It was all so impressive I nearly didn’t notice the panoramic glass roof.

Heading down the drive, the Evoque handled beautifully. I drove a few yards on Douglas Road and then made a quick right. The Range Rover team had, in four days, built a little off-road course, creating hills and gullies and water hazards out of the sand.

I got stuck on the hill, the wheels churning. Though not all of them. Lea told me that one of my wheels was in the air. This, he assured me, was supposed to happen. He calmly instructed me not to take my foot off the gas, but to give it steady, gradual pressure. We were pointed upward, while tilted to the side, a position I tend not to find myself in when driving my Honda. Yet despite the new predicament I felt very safe; the car exuded an air of capability. (Style, when you’re pointed heavenward, is less important.) And even with one wheel airborne, it felt very grounded.

Back in the house, Gerry McGovern, the designer of the Evoque, gave a short talk accompanied by a video. At one point a photo appeared showing Winston Churchill standing next to the first Land Rover in 1948. So along with form and function comes tradition.

—Thomas Swick

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