Count­down to ec­stasy

The Evoque has the right ra­tio for the oc­ca­sion

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige - TIM VAUGHAN CARSGUIDE DEPUTY ED­I­TOR

NINE-eight-seven-six­four ... It’s not a preschooler show­ing off his nu­mer­i­cal skills— rather, it’s a typ­i­cal gear se­quence in the Range Rover Evoque’s skip-shift func­tion to wash off speed for smart cor­ner­ing or kick down for snappy over­tak­ing.

And, yep, the count­down starts at nine. Range Rover claims aworld first with the next Evoque’s nine-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, just one of the techno jewels in the driv­e­train.

In the brand’s bag of tricks to “en­hance agility and fur­ther im­prove fuel ef­fi­ciency”, the ZF-built auto is abet­ted by what the engi­neers cal­lAc­tive Driv­e­line, which on petrol mod­els cuts drive aft when the Evoque is mo­tor­ing steadily from about 35km/h. It takes 300 mil­lisec­onds for the on-de­mand 4WD to re­con­nect.

It also packs a pair of clutches in the rear-drive gear in­stead of a dif­fer­en­tial, the bet­ter to send torque to the wheel with bet­ter grip, Range Rover says.

In com­mon with its 2014 model range sta­ble­mates, the Evoque (due here in March) fairly bris­tles with driver as­sist gear.

To the cus­tom­ary lane sens­ing and park­ing elec­tron­ics, it adds a wad­ing sen­sor (to dis­play the depth ofwa­ter the ve­hi­cle’s travers­ing, should one have to de­tour on the­way to the polo) and In­Con­trol, a re­mote se­cu­rity and track­ing app (pos­si­bly of use to ladies-who-lunch when they mis­place the car post re­tail ther­apy).

Its hill de­scent con­trol is some­thing to savour, and Carsguide did just that last weekend at the Schon­wald ski jump in the Black For­est.

So did Jaguar Lan­dRover re­search and tech­nol­ogy boss Wolf­gang Ep­ple. Af­ter hail­ing the Evoque’s sales suc­cess— 170,000 to date— he put his mouth where his money came from, punched in the de­scent pa­ram­e­ters on the touch­screen of a three­door, got Frau Ep­ple in be­side him and rolled down the ski land­ing slope.

The gra­di­ent falls away to about 45 de­grees. Edg­ing down it at some­what north of 5km/h (pic­tured), with for­ward vi­sion lim­ited to the track im­me­di­ately ahead, it feels like 90.

On sealed for­est roads, the Evoque’s pad­dle-shifters en­abled some nifty throt­tle work on cor­ners— there was al­ways that ex­tra ra­tio up or down.

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