I must admit, I’ve been looking forward to this for a very long time. Since January 2004, in fact. It was all the way back then that Land Rover unveiled its amazing Range Stormer concept. At the time, the idea of a sporting two-door SUV seemed just a little-bit far-fetched, and yet thanks to perfectly judged styling by Richard Woolley under the highly talented and underrated Geoff Upex, the design team at Gaydon pulled it off – the Stormer was a blinder. And eight years on, I’ve been driving the production version.
We all assumed that the 2006 Range Rover Sport was the production offshoot of the Range Stormer, but that happily proved not to be the case. In 2008, the Land Rover LRX was unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show, and absolutely wowed the crowds. The buzz was that car would go into production – and so it proved in just over two years, when the Range Rover Evoque burst onto the scene, and became the UK’s first proper ‘it’ car in a very long time. Sales success and awards have followed, proving that we in the UK can still design, engineer and build the most desirable cars in the world.
Interestingly, as far as I can see, the role of the Range Stormer in the Evoque’s success story has largely been forgotten – and that’s a shame, because it’s clear from the picture above that the young upstart owes a great deal to that car in terms of its design. The glass panoramic roof (short supplies of which have hampered Evoque production following its launch, by the way), the floating roof, the window graphics are pure carry-overs. And even the memorable crushed ice in the lamp clusters of the ‘Stormer has made its way into the Evoque: just check out the instrument markings. Yes, the crushed ice is in the speedometer. And very cool it is, too.
And it’s this level of detailing, and its concept car styling that make the Evoque so special. And consequently make me, as a driver, feel special. The driving position is pleasingly car-like, and not at all compromised by its off-road underpinnings. You just sit higher… but reclined like a sports car. As for the interior itself – it’s absolutely first rate – the trim and materials are well-judged, and the car is light and airy – and it’s just a nice place to sit, and the cool fusion of beige and brushed aluminium shows that you don’t need to buy a full-fat Range Rover to get the best cabin.
As for the styling inside – it impacted me the same way that the original 2001 L322 Range Rover, and it’s near impossible to find fault. The cabin architecture just works – the way the centre console sweeps through the dashboard is pleasing, as is the layout and feel of all the controls. In short, I love this interior.
And that’s had a bit of a strange effect on me. Those little five minute jobs I found myself using the car for soon became two-hour drives. Instead of nipping into town, I’d nip into the next county. And you know what – when I arrived, mission completed, I felt good. And generally soothed. And in stressful times, that makes this car worth its weight in gold.
Cranking up the Meridian stereo (a fine British manufacturer that built my home system too!) and seeing where the Evoque takes me will probably shape the next week or so’s driving. Whether that’s a good thing or not, I am not sure – but it does at least mean I’ll be able to run to a pretty comprehensive review for the website. Something I am sure you’ll appreciate.
I’m up early tomorrow morning, too… I need to find some shop windows to drive past, just to check out that side profile in motion. Oh yes, this thing looks good, and I’m not ashamed to say I’m going to grab any opportunity I can to have a sneaky peek. Sorry.
More blogs to follow, no doubt – and the proper review after that!