Motoring / Motoring News

Glen Hill
4 minute read
12 Mar 2014
2:15 pm

Evoque spirit of adventure

Glen Hill

The Range Rover Evoque has been a remarkable success story for the marque and Land Rover are not about to rest on their laurels.

Their success may even be going to their heads as they decided to showcase the updates to the Evoque by driving off road from Botswana to Zambia. Although conditions in and of themselves were not too bad, I doubt anyone who actually bought an Evoque would subject it to the trip we did. The true challenge was created largely by the need to cross the border by ferry before it closed. Evoques are comfortable, but you dont want to spend the night in one. The drive was designed to highlight two new features, the ZF-9HP automatic transmission and the cross-border satellite navigation.

The integrated satellite navigation system features extensive maps across 22 sub-Saharan African countries. The factory-fitted integrated system combines the latest generation of Tracks4Africa with a sophisticated on-board unit using the acclaimed iGo primo platform and hardware that allows for SD card software and map updates.Tracks4Africa is a suite of 16 maps of rural areas, with impressive detail, much of its content being user-driven and based on actual driving experiences on the continent. It represents data compiled over more than a decade by thousands of serious overland adventurers who have recorded their route on a GPS device. Their experiences – checked and validated against those of other users who have driven the same route – are verified before being loaded onto the system.

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In this way Tracks4Africa provides access to a network of around 720 000km of ‘navigable’ roads in Africa. This represents 90 percent of the roads so far travelled by self-drive tourists in Africa, and catalogues their points of interest along the way. For example, in Angola it maps nearly 20 000 roads and tracks, and details more than 2 500 points of interest.

Our particular route took us from around Savuti to Livingstone via Kasane and was clearly indicated on the GPS. The TTF display flatters the route a bit as the road is really just a well trod route along a cut line for the most part. The “middlemannetlie” regularly scratched the Evoque’s belly and keeping up a fair pace subjected the fairly low profile – 45 – tyres to quite a beating. A couple of knife-edged Mopani routes cut sidewalls, adding to the time pressure. But as it turned out we made the crossing with almost two hours to spare, most of which was then consumed by the cheerful but deeply bureaucratic customs and immigration process.

For the urban environment, the mapping software of choice is Nokia HERE, which gives comprehensive coverage of over 100 cities in sub-Sahara Africa. Users simply change from the rural to the urban environment at the touch of a ‘button’ on the TTF screen of their Jaguar or Land Rover. The system is fairly easy to use once you have played with it a few times and the quality of the information fed back is extremely high, enabling drivers to navigate in completely unfamiliar surroundings.

A nine-speed gearbox was overkill for our route, but coupled to either a four-cylinder 2.2 diesel 140kW, 420Nm, SD4 engine or a 2.0 petrol 177kW, 340Nm, Si4 engine, it proved to be a wonderful piece of technology all the same.

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It allows most obviously for a wide spread of ratios. This means there is a short first gear, which largely negates the need for a low ratio, and high top gears, for improved fuel economy. The former we got to experience thanks to the heavy rains and consequent mud and goo. We were moving quickly, but not quickly enough to really use the long top gear, however on the tar it seemed to keep the revs economically low. The torque converter gearbox shifts exceptionally quickly and smoothly and when coupled to the Terrain Response condition-specific matrix, it makes for very relaxed driving even on such compromised surfaces.

In addition to the new technologies, there are detail changes to the Evoque’s exterior, new colour options for the interior, four new alloy wheel styles and a new style of Land Rover badge on the grille, wheel centres and tailgate.

The model line-up now consists of three equipment grades: the new Pure, along with the existing Prestige and Dynamic models. The easiest way to tell them apart at a glance is badging and wheels: Pure has 18-inch wheels and Evoque badging in black, the Prestige goes up an inch to 19s and has badging in silver, and the Dynamic combines 20-inch wheels and red badging.

Panoramic sunroof, privacy glass, rain-sensing wipers, Xenon headlamps, power tailgate and Navigation are just some of the features also fitted as standard to the Prestige, while the Dynamic adds grained leather for the upholstery, full electric adjustment on the front seats, and illuminated tread plates. All derivatives gain a sliding centre console armrest, with fore/aft travel in the order of 150mm.

A choice of three contrast roof colours continues to be available, and while the sky is pretty much the limit when combining with the main body colour, customers are aided in their selection by recommended combinations and designer’s choices.

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