2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque: First Drive, Off-Road Page 2

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Back to the point, it's an impressive setup, capable of dashing to 60 mph in just 7.1 seconds and on to a 135-mph top speed, yet rated an EPA 19 mpg city, 28 highway. Key to all that is weight; the Evoque weighs 1,600 pounds less than a Range Rover Sport—just 3,900 pounds, thanks to the extensive use of boron and high-strength steels, aluminum, and magnesium. Even more impressive is (included in all U.S. Evoques) the huge laminated glass roof and a strong structure that needs no middle B-pillar ring.

Quick and able, on-road or off

The Evoque is no slouch off-road water-wading capability of nearly 20 inches, an approach angle of 25 percent, and breakover angle of 22 percent (that's in the ballpark of the Mercedes-Benz GLK and BMW X3). And, to emphasize that Land Rover has serious trail capability in mind, the oil system is capable of 45 degrees of tilt.

Wrapping everything together is Land Rover's Terrain Response system, which includes modes for general driving, grass/gravel/snow, mud & ruts, and sand. Each mode individually affects engine (throttle), gearbox, and steering calibration, plus settings for the stability control. Included as part of a suite of chassis control technologies are Hill Descent Control, Gradient Release Control, and Hill Hold—all helping you stay stable on slick slopes—plus Trailer Stability Assist, if you want to tow a boat or small trailer.

As we headed up an extremely steep gravel road, interspersed with muddy stretches, huge potholes, and a few rocks, the electronically controlled Haldex center-coupling all-wheel drive system didn't stumble. But once we reached a much, more traillike section, we appreciated the mud and ruts mode, which allowed more wheelspin. Don't expect any level of wheel articulation, but the driveline and even the base suspension manages to soak up the worst of the bumps and shocks. Just as in Land Rover's larger utes, you can fine-tune the speed of Hill Descent Control with the cruise-control buttons.

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