Friday, 2 July 2010

Evoquing negative emotion

The new Range Rover Evoque.

Having stumbled across pics of the new Range Rover, I can only really feel two emotions. Disappointment, and disgust. Sure, we all knew it was coming, the Land Rover LRX saw to that, but as someone who hates pseudo4x4s with a passion, it was never going to appeal to me.

It's too small, there's next to no glass, it looks like it's on stilts and full of steroids, and it will be far too pricey. But whilst these criticisms are entirely just, none represents my biggest problem with the Freelander based car. Nor am I most hacked off by the fact that like BMW's Mini, it seems to be a case of style over substance. Nor even is it the stupid name, Evoque, that incenses me most.

No, my problem is that this car is not and will never be a Range Rover. Spen King, the recently departed genius behind the idea, has stated that it was engineered from nothing, made a huge profit with few revisions, and had no rivals at the time. Certain things were done for reasons - the black pillars were cost-effective, the basic style derived from the original mock-up body used to test the chassis, even the castellated bonnet edges were designed to provide mirror mounting points.. The original Rangie was genuis in combining car with Land Rover, and in becoming a truly prestigious item along the way. By the end of RR Classic production in 1995, not only was it still a serious off-road tool but a viable XJ and S-class competitor. The P38A and L322 full-sized Rangies do this just fine, also.

The Sport, a roadgoing version of the Range Stormer, signalled the beginning of the slippery slope. A blinged up sham-RR, based on the Discovery (apt, given that the original Disco was Rangie based), intended more for Sloane Square than the Serengeti. This, I thought at the time, had as much to do with the Range Rover as the Range Rover had to do with cheese. And the Evoque, with it's stupid name and idiotic looks, has taken the idea further. Range Rover, far from being a stand alone flagship of the Land-Rover range, has become a selection of vehicles suited more to the footballer than the farmer. The interior is even to be designed by a team led by the original 'footballer's wife' - Victoria Beckham. A Rangie with a Spice Girl interior. It's sacrilege, to debase one of the most prestigious names on the planet in the way that LR seem to desire.

"The 4x4 was never intended as a status symbol but later incarnations of my design seem to be intended for that purpose," Spen King told a Scottish newspaper in 2004, going on to state that people who drive four-wheel-drives in town are stupid and pompous. That the Range Rover had become little more than a display of wealth, he stated, disgusted him to the extent that at the time of the interview he drove a Mini. What, then, would CSK have made of the Evoque? Call me cynical, but I do not think he would have approved.