Recycling clothes may be an inexpensive way to dress, but putting a new, more attractive body on an older frame rarely means a discount. Just ask Land Rover. The Range Rover Evoque is one of the most sought-after SUVs on the market. It's all about style. It looks fresh, cleverly mixing a hint of aggression with its cutesy shape to appeal to all sexes, all ages.
But it's a reclothed Freelander 2. In fact, it's so different from its donor that each appeals to a distinct buyer group. So the customer never knows about what happened in the closet.
Gee, this is expensive. The Evoque Prestige TD4 five-door is $71,375 and is nicely appointed - stitched leather, 19-inch alloys, rear park sensors, bi-xenon headlights and 11-speaker Meridian audio are standard. But add a few things - some expected in cars at half the price - and the price balloons.
A reverse camera ($670), front park sensors ($620), sat-nav ($3400) and a panoramic sunroof ($1500) totals about $6300. So it's an $80,000-plus car on the road. But because it's so adorable, people want it. Glass's Guide says resale is a commendable 56 per cent. The long 26,000km service interval appeals to big distance owners on a budget.
So it's really a Freelander under the skin but the body makes a huge difference to the buyer appeal. The Evoque has, for example, a smaller luggage area - 420-1350 litres - compared with the boxier Freelander's more generous 755-1670 litres. The Evoque's shape is responsible for that.
Big glovebox and accommodating centre console bin with two central bottle holders, but door pockets are very small. Cabin space is reasonable and it will seat four adults, but the headroom is low and slinky doors and a high sill make access awkward. Build quality and design is tops.
Popular Land Rover-Jaguar 2.2-litre turbo-diesel is good for 110kW/400Nm and drives all wheels through a six-speed auto with paddle shifters. The 2014 model, due in March, gets a nine-speed auto. The maker claims 6.5L/100km as an average but 5.7L/100km country consumption indicates a touring range of 1020km. Though considered an SUV, Evoque TD4 gets the five-mode Terrain Response program to dial up on and off-road conditions. Though a modest 4.4m long, it's no middle-weight boxer at a portly 1800kg dry. On the upside, it can tow up to 1800kg.
Still a four-star car. Evoque has five airbags and electronic aids for stability, traction, rollover mitigation, hill descent, hill holder and to prevent trailer sway. It has rear park sensors as standard but front sensors and a camera are options. The wipers and bi-xenon headlights are automatic. The spare is a space saver.
It's not the easiest car to enter and leave and the driving position is compact. Worse, visibility is rubbish - almost blind to the front three-quarters because of the very wide windscreen pillars and giant mirrors, merely a letterbox slit for a rear window and tapering side glass. Forward visibility is however, fine and except for parking, that's probably the most important.
The Evoque sits rock solid on the road with excellent steering feel. The diesel engine has a bit of lag off the mark but generally it's responsive and hauls the portly body along very well. Handling is spot on and feels more like a tall hatchback than an SUV. It's also very quiet with even the fat tyres barely audible. Seat comfort is reasonable. Though the seats look body-hugging, they're doing that to someone else's body. Switchgear, including the touchscreen monitor, are very good.
Form before function but still as desirable as a Zumbo macaroon. Freelander makes more sense -- but that's not the point.
Range Rover Evoque Prestige TD4
Price: from $71,375
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km, 3yr roadside
Capped servicing: none
Service interval: 12mths/26,000km
Resale: 56% (after 3 years)
Safety: 5 airbags, ABS, ESC, EBD, TC, BA
Crash rating: 4-star
Engine: 2.2-litre, 4-cyl turbo-diesel; 110kW/400Nm
Transmission: 6-spd auto; constant 4WD
Thirst: 6.5L/100km; 174g/km CO2
Dimensions: 4.4m (L), 2.0m (W), 2.0m (H)