Chassiswise, the little Evoque lacks its siblings' air-sprung suspension, but gets an optional Adaptive Dynamics package like the Range Rover Sport's. These third-generation MagneRide strut dampers can alter their damping rates in 10 milliseconds, and typically do so 50 times per second to provide the smoothest possible ride while restricting body pitch, dive, and roll to the bare minimum when the standard Terrain Response system is set to its Dynamic Program setting. Naturally, the rest of the Terrain Response settings work their magic along with myriad other electronic aids -- such as Dynamic Stability Control, Roll Stability Control, traction control, Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control and Gradient Release Control, and engine drag torque control -- to help the Evoque safely go practically anywhere. It also has Trailer Stability Assist, to help when towing. Short overhangs and 8.3 inches of underbody ground clearance (0.4 inch better than the LR2's) give the littlest Range Rover best-in-compact-class approach, breakover, and departure angles (25, 22, and 33 degrees respectively). It's also designed to be able to splash into and ford a 20-inch-deep channel.
So does it drive like a Range Rover? To find out we took a quick spin on Land Rover's Gaydon, England, proving ground in a two-door Evoque prototype with Adaptive Dynamics, riding on 19-inch wheels (20s are optional). First impressions: It feels far nimbler and more agile than the LR2. Acceleration is said to match that of the naturally aspirated 5.0-liter Range Rover Sport, with 7.1 seconds to 60 mph. That would make it almost two seconds quicker than the LR2, and that seems perfectly believable. Transmission response to the steering-wheel paddle shifts is admirably quick. The turbocharged engine will never be confused for a melodious V-8 or Honda four, but it emits a roarty, snorty growl that seems reasonably sporting, especially above 5000 rpm, when a sound pipe from the intake manifold takes over as the exhaust note tapers off.