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Thursday, Apr 17, 2014
Autos

A smaller, more economical Range Rover

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 10:00 AM

There's no finer leather-lined luxury machine than a Range Rover. It's the vehicle of choice for every professional athlete, rock star, fashionista and movie icon worthy of the pages of US magazine.

But with a loaded supercharged Range Rover Autobiography costing the best part of $130,000, you'd need a rock star's royalties to put one in your garage.

That's all changing with the arrival of the new "starter" Rover, the stunning new 2012 Evoque – the smallest, lightest, most fuel-efficient Range Rover yet. And with prices starting at $43,995, it's also the most affordable.

As you'd expect, the Evoque's bold, attention-grabbing looks and semi-attainable pricing is going to put this gas-sipping 4x4 – it'll average 28 mpg on the highway – on the shopping list of a whole new generation of buyers, 90 percent who will be new to Range Rover.

See it in the metal and it's nothing less than automotive art. That wickedly raked windshield, that floating, tapered roof, those over-sized wheels make it leap out from the sport-ute crowd. Three-door coupe or five-door hatch, both versions look sensational.

Inside the cabin is just as sleek as the exterior. Big-bolstered bucket seats up front. That sexy rising cylindrical gear selector borrowed from sister company Jaguar. And a terrific available all-glass roof.

For those who might ask the question: "$45-grand and a four-cylinder engine?" there's only one answer: Drive it. This 2.0-liter direct-injection turbo packs a hearty 240 horsepower. Coupled to a six-speed auto, it'll rush to 60 mph in a speedy seven seconds.

And show it a twisty piece of blacktop – I know, not that easy here in Florida – and this new Evoque will change directions faster than a spooked cat. It's truly a fun drive.

Motor Trend recently named it the 2012 Sport Utility of the Year. No doubt that'll evoke plenty of applause

Tampa-based auto writer Howard Walker can be reached at walkweb@verizon.net.

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