MotorMartin has spoken before about the cult of the SUV and it’s continued impact on the car buying public and manufacturers alike. Consumers who used to favour a nice new saloon or estate are no longer happy to be seen in such a vehicle yet they still want the size and space that these traditional sectors promise. So what to do?
Perhaps the first recognisable SUV on these shores was the original Land Rover launched way back in April 1948, a car that provided the occupants with the go anywhere ability that has since become synonymous with the brand. Although the modern driver demands a certain high level of creature comforts from their SUV, the Land Rover was from a different age, basic is almost too generous a description for what was an acceptable interior back in the distant past. So Land Rover got the mechanicals right first time and created a legacy that lasts to this day but was it really a direct descendant to that which we have today?
Fast forward a few years and Toyota tried to get in on the act with their Land Cruiser, a 4×4 SUV that was large, powerful and durable, and once again, created a long running dynasty beginning in 1953 and running right up until today. Toyota, unlike Land Rover, did spend time updating the cabin as well as improving the drivetrain over the years but is the Land Cruiser the first SUV?
And so, in the intervening years, we had various manufacturers, as Jeep, Vauxhall – Frontera anyone? – and Ford for example, trying to convince the buying public that what were perceived as vehicles for working types, could actually be used as day to day transport. The biggest issue, as far as MotorMartin’s concerned, was not with the four wheel drive and rather functional styling but was purely down to the lack of comfort and car like feeling for both the driver and passengers. Put simply, a decent saloon or estate provided room, practicality and fun. A decent SUV, provided go anywhere ability and somewhere to put your tools and sheep.
What then, in 2016, has the modern SUV morphed into and which features can be linked back to the 1948 Land Rover or 1953 Land Cruiser?
Pondering this and many other questions, MotorMartin’s thoughts were interupted by an email arriving from the Swansway Group, a phenomenally successful multi franchise range of dealerships run from their modern head office based in Crewe. Indeed, the company has comes long way from its start way back in 2003 and is now responsible for Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Citroën, FIAT, Honda, Jeep, Land Rover, Peugeot, SEAT, Volkswagen and Volkswagen Commercial. Crikey! And yet a quick look on their, rather excellent, website at http://www.swanswaygarages.com/ shows a company not just happy to sit on their laurels but one that constantly looks to the future, a point in case would be their extremely busy 2015 where a new showroom was built and opened in Stafford, Swansway began representing Abarth in Chester, and the Group expanded once again with Swansway Jeep, again in Chester. And the future, it’s no secret that there’s currently a new showroom being built in Crewe, Jaguar anyone?
Certainly anyone considering a new car from those brands previously mentioned would do well to contact Swansway Group on 01270 419061 and search out the correct deal for them from one of the many options on offer. Checkout http://www.swanswaygarages.com/about/testimonials for customer testimonials. Infact, MotorMartin is currently compiling a recommended dealer list for all you readers out there, Swansway Group are already on it.
Sitting outside of Audi Crewe, as arranged by the kind folk of Swansway, sat a very attractive silver and black Range Rover Evoque SE tech ED4 2WD looking far more handsome in the flesh than MotorMartin was expecting. Perhaps it’s familiarity, after all, the Evoque has been with us on the roads of the UK since July 2011 and the concept car was etched onto our subconsciousness perhaps up to a year or so before even that date. MotorMartin has always been impressed with how few changes have been made to the original silhouette of the Evoque from drawing board to concept to finished product with the three door in particular, looking incredibly striking from both close up and afar.
The new 2016 Evoque is available in Coupé, Five-door and Convertible body styles and with the huge amount of customisation on offer, it’s unlikely that you’ll see another the same on the road as the one which you essentially build yourself. Back then to the Evoque glinting in the sunlight in front of MotorMartin, sitting pretty on its 20″ 5 split-spoke ‘Style 504’ with shadow chrome finish alloy wheels. Straight from the off, it’s clear that this is a good looking car, MotorMartin will discuss the price later but you can see in some of the exterior details that this is still a car that offers excellent value for money.
Looking closely, the panel fit is superb as is the detailing, indeed, I particularly like the way that the line of the headlights is elongated along the front wings, breaking only for the extended wheel arches and that sloping roof just looks so right, even in this five door edition, and still gives us a unique silhouette today. Range Rover themselves clearly think so as they’ve used the same styling cues on their new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.
Although this mid sized Range Rover has always been a good looking car, the latest updates for 2016 have made the Evoque look even better. Range Rover themselves say that, Range Rover Evoque’s cutting-edge exterior design has been further enhanced with a selection of carefully chosen revisions. These updates include a new front bumper, and two new grille designs. The updated Evoque will also be the first Land Rover to feature all-LED headlamps, this advanced technology, which provides superior visibility at night, both enhances safety and creates a more striking visual statement. Because of Range Rover’s hard work, the front end of the Evoque manages to convey the rugged off road capability that the brand is famous for as well as suggesting the presence of a premium vehicle.
The rear of the Evoque is just as well thought out and memorable, combining as it does, a high rear window and large rear spoiler with twin exhaust pipes poking rather superbly from the rear bumper. MotorMartin’s favourite styling feature? Well Mr S, friend of MotorMartin and official MotorMartin YouTube cameraman, nailed it when he suggested that the Evoque badge on the tailgate stood out, highlighted as it was in a rather lovely shade of blue. I think it’s safe to say that both MotorMartin and Range Rover therefore enjoy a little bit of blue to brighten up the day. Ahem.
Overall then, MotorMartin thinks that this is a great looking SUV. The proportions are just right. The overall look is modern, contemporary and, with Range Rover’s subtle improvements, looks just as good today as it did back in 2011 and in MotorMartin’s opinion, will still look great for a few more years to come. The Evoque is a classy bit of kit and in part 2, MotorMartin will be looking into the incredible technology present within its spacious cabin as well as discussing the driving experience and the ‘real life’ motoring aspects of this mid sized, premium SUV. I hope you’ll join me for the drive.
Where will you go?