And I mean that in a good way. Sure, there's the odd fleet-footed supercharged model, but those are riffs on existing lines. The basics are always there: syrupy-smooth inputs, slow (in a good way) responsiveness, unfailingly sure-footed moves. Rovers are the tortoises (versus the hares) of the SUV world. And we know who always wins.

But the Evoque perplexes me. When I first saw it in pictures I was wowed. And it makes the same bold statement in the metal ("Well look at you! That's some car you got there!" said a 60ish guy as he admired the RR's flanks). Visually, it's a stunning piece of work. And I do applaud LR for reaching so far stylistically. It works.

I just wish the rig felt like a Land Rover. Throttle inputs are overly quick, even jerky -- exacerbated by the whoosh of turbo boost (more proof that -- as Acura has shown -- whiffy little turbos don't work in SUVs). My single favorite attribute of all LRs -- that you can drive one without putting so much as a ripple in your passenger's coffee -- is absent here. Same with the steering: it's not fluid like other Rovers -- not even as good as the previous LR2. Has a strange, springy centering feel, without a lot of feedback building through turns. Admittedly, there's surprising grip on tap, but unless you're really hustling, the Evoque just isn't that pleasing to pilot. It darts and feints when it should arc and glide.

You can't help but sense fashion over function here. The interior borders on glitzy (look at those "crystal" gauges). The touchscreen is a pain to use (too many menus and sub-menus). The Jaguar-esque rising transmission selector is ... best left to a enthrall Jaguar owners.

Gas mileage is impressive (at least on paper). Overall, though, the Evoque strikes me as a styling piece from a brand that needs "style" like Levis needs "chic." Give me those Land Rover virtues I so know and love--prowess, smoothness, a stiff upper lip in the face of anything Mother Nature can dish out.

Give me my molasses back.


Our Cars
Service life 6 months/14,105 miles
Average fuel economy 19.8 mpg
CO2 emissions 0.98 lb/mi
Energy consumption 170 kW-hr/100mi
Unresolved problems None
Maintenance cost $0 (oil change, inspection, cabin-air filter, engine-air filter)
Normal-wear cost $0