The ride quality is far from plush, though body motion control seems admirable in the normal on-road setting (my chaperone wouldn't permit me to sample the naughtier Dynamic Program). Steering effort is on the light side, but I could read the road surface texture through the wheel pretty well, and it heavies up fairly naturally as cornering grip builds. Braking effort and pedal travel seemed ideal for a sport-oriented lux 'ute. In fact, the overall sensation -- from the driving position, cockpit orientation, and dynamic behavior -- was more like that of driving a sport wagon or a Subaru Forester turbo with starchier suspenders. The Land Rover LR2 and Range Rover Evoque must rank as two of the best-differentiated platform mates out there.

Evoque production began this summer, for an on-sale date around October. Expect pricing to start at $45,000, give or take -- that's right where loaded LR2s leave off, and customers who exert themselves will be able to spend quite a bit more than that personalizing an Evoque. Three unbadged trim levels will be offered: Pure, Dynamic, and Prestige. Pure offers two interior color/trim combos; Dynamic has six; and Prestige has five different ones, including an all-leather interior with 10 square meters' worth of hides from three cows. Factor in the eight global wheel designs, 12 body and three roof paint colors, and the possible build combinations total some 380,000. That sort of bespoke vehicle tailoring, plus a surprisingly roomy interior, Range Rover Sport-like performance, and Land Rover-like off-road capability, should help Evoque claim its bite of the widening lux 'ute pie slice.