I have already reported on the launch of the new Range Rover Evoque, the baby member of the range, so in order to discover more about the new model I decided to head West with an S version.
Taking in some six counties, Armagh, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo, my ultimate aim being to take in a chunk of the Wild Atlantic Way, one of the finest drives not only in Ireland but in the world! Having driven the West Coast of California and various other drives, I rate the Wild Atlantic Way as the best.
On the way a stop in Kesh, a small village in County Fermanagh not far from the island town of Enniskillen. My reason for the stop to grab a bite in The Mayfly which is now owned by none other than rally ace Garry Jennings. The chat of course, is all rallying and the food is great!
Another stop was a place which I have visited on numerous occasions, Bundoran. There are great coastal walks and if you are lucky you just might catch the surfers as they take on the Atlantic.
Mullaghmore is another favourite of mine with its harbour, a number of eating places and of course, the chance to snap a few pictures. My drive took in a variety of roads, from single track to dual carriageway and the Evoque proved ideal, although on this occasion the only off road challenge was some slippery grass. (Earlier on the press launch I discovered the off road qualities of the Range Rover.)
Worthy of note is the fact that almost everything is new- with the exception of the door hinges which have been carried over from the previous model. This popular premium SUV is sold throughout 170 countries and almost eighty five percent are left hand drive versions. The real test of any new model is when you take the wheel and immediately I sensed the improvement over the outgoing model during my outing to the West. A challenge indeed, for all at Range Rover to deliver and follow on from a vehicle which has enjoyed some ten years of success. Many may not see the changes with the latest version; the newcomer has a profile akin to the outgoing model. New standards of refinement, capability and sustainability have been achieved however, and the end result is simply the best to date.
A key to success has been the employment of new architecture technology which delivers a smooth, quiet and refined drive. The new platform offers a wide choice for the future and it is certainly a key feature and looking forward electrification is going to be important. The D180 S auto AWD delivered power aplenty, rest to 100kph (62mph) in just less than nine seconds and on to a top speed of 127mph. Road holding is a key element of the new model, in fact I would describe it as sports like, and no doubt this will be welcomed by many. With 180bhp at the command of my right foot and the slick American built nine speed automatic transmission, the drive was thoroughly rewarding. It’s fair to state that all of the Range Rover family are famed for their off road capability, okay the Evoque does not have the same aids as other models, however Innovative Terrain Response 2 technology meets your needs from the urban to the rural environments. Keeping in touch with the wide world and with the new Evoque you will reach your chosen destination, you are connected everywhere, Apple CarPlay connects you to your smartphone, 4G Wi-Fi hotspot connects you to the internet, while In Control Remote connects you to the vehicle., certainly no complaints in this area.
Styling is very Range Rover and the new model is more than ever a baby Range Rover, I really approve of the exterior while and more than ever there is a luxurious crafted interior which offers a calming sense of wellbeing to driver and fellow travellers. For most people versatility and the larger glove box and centre cubby can now fit tablets, handbags and bottles with ease. Luggage space is ten percent larger yielding 591 litres, is much wider for easier access for example a set of golf clubs, camera gerar etc, fold the rear seats and you have 1,383 litres to work with. The S had an array of options, no surprise. Instead of the standard eighteen inch wheels, twenty inch, which coped with the bumps much better than expected. A no cost option, Fuji While solid paint finish, gradated linear bright aluminium trim finisher, Touch Pro Due, Ebony Eucalyptus textile and Ultrafabrics seat (no cost option) and Clearsight interior rear view mirror, the latter does not get my vote, due to an annoying reflection on the screen. The new model is a winner in the key areas and is one of the most desirable small SUVs currently available.