I don’t watch the famed television show, Big Boss. But there are people in the family who do, and once I got embroiled in a heated argument with one of them. No matter what I said, and how much I voiced the virtues of TLC or Discovery, she was adamant that Sony is doing our society a great service by airing the show. Needless to say, I left the scene of the argument immediately, but not before I noticed one thing my cousin said – there’s a housemate in Big Boss who’s famous for saying “spare me” quite a lot.
I didn’t quite catch the woman’s name, and neither did I care at the time. But, eventually, curiosity will get the better of you – and I simply needed to know who she was. But, I didn’t want to call my sister to find out – lest she think that I’ve suddenly taken a liking to the show. So, extremely reluctantly, I sat down with my mother when the show was being aired. I went through the pain of watching these awfully irritating housemates for what seemed like an eternity, yet I couldn’t find any trace of the woman who was so eloquently described by my sister. I asked my mom, and she didn’t quite recall the girl’s name either, but she excitedly recounted how the girl had already been eliminated. Naturally, I left immediately.
YouTube – it’s a brilliant source of everything in video form. So, I typed in the search, and after thinking twice, finally pressed ‘Enter.’ So, the girl whom I’ve been going on about – her name is Pooja Misrra. Turns out, she’s quite a psycho. And yes, she does say “spare me” more than infrequently.
Now, if you’re reading this in the far lands of Bihar, Orissa, or UP, and don’t know who Pooja Misrra is, good – that means you’ve spared yourself the torture of watching her. And for all you Big Boss fans who may be offended by my above statement, ‘spare me!’ But the one thing that, sort of, connects Pooja Misrra and my distant relatives in that unvoiced village of Bihar, is the Range Rover Evoque. No, don’t lose hope on me yet – I have my reasons.
The Range Rover Evoque, you see, is an extremely stylish thing. True, the underpinnings are based on the rather weird Freelander, but the way this thing looks is a complete departure from what we’ve come to accept Land Rovers to be. So is the case with the way this latest LR SUV drives. Yes, I did call this über chic, Fashion TV-worthy model-on-tyres an SUV – because it deserves the status. Let me throw in a scenario – an urban Indian girl in a short skirt, goes to her village in Punjab and manages to come out a winner by learning to work on the farm. The Evoque is that girl. Come on, it’s an analogy – of sorts.
I doubt many of the owners are going to take the Range Rover Evoque off-road, but there’s just that peace of mind in knowing that if you do, you’ll be just fine. And I know that because we did take the Range Rover Evoque on some leaves-and-twigs, and stuff.
But what interests me, surprisingly, are the interiors of this SUV. And now I’m going to talk about auto magazine stuff – for instance, the ergonomics are spot-on. They’re so spot-on that you feel worried – maybe the intelligent, secret agents at LR were stalking you during its development? They took photographs of you. They managed to take a sample of your DNA, and made a clone of you. Your body type, your weight – and the cabin was designed to suit this clone. It’s a worrying thought!
But once you get over that fear, and appreciate the level of attention that’s gone into everything, you do feel a strange sense of satisfaction – you’re driving something that’s a bit more special than other stuff in the market. Yes, it’s more cramped in the back than the competition. And yes, now that the prices are out, you know that it’s more expensive than the BMW X3 or the Audi Q5, but it’s that much more special as well. Some motoring and lifestyle scribes at the launch were whispering their discontent about the price point of the Range Rover Evoque. But I was quite vocal in accepting its price, and thought that it was quite ok. I was so convinced with the product and its price that I even tweeted my agreement on the autoX handle, as well as mine. So, now that I’ve done enough PR for the Range Rover Evoque. I’ll accept mine in red, thank you.
Fine, so you already know that I’m smitten. But there are some not-so-pleasing points that I must tell you about as well – the all-round visibility for one, which is miserable, and the engine, which is disappointing. The 2.2-litre, 187bhp motor has Ford genes, and its clones are licensed to do duty in many cars the world over. The engine is a 16-valve, DOHC affair that utilises a variable geometry turbocharger that generates 420Nm of turning force. Of course, 187 horsepower and 420 torques sounds impressive – but it doesn’t translate into the kind of performance that the numbers promise. The Range Rover Evoque is so leisurely that you could sip a glass-full of wine between lights – not that you should, but you could. Also, in case a cop catches you, you’ll have to shell out 500 bucks, instead of the regular 100, just because you’re in an expensive, lifestyle vehicle.
Off-road, that 420Nm does come in handy though. We were in Mumbai to drive the Range Rover Evoque, and because it wasn’t 26th July 2005, we couldn’t gauge its water-wading or slush-managing capabilities, but we did throw up some dust around the odd beaten track and the Rangie did well. The Evoque is packed to the gills with tech stuff like the Terrain Response system, which adjusts the engine, transmission, and electronic systems for maximum drivability and traction based on the mode selected. So, you’re covered by some high-tech off-road armour.
The Range Rover Evoque is quite car-like to drive too. It’s got no inherent SUV-like body-roll of any kind, and corners absolutely flat – even at speed. And you can keep it pointed exactly where you want it to go thanks to a steering that’s quite sharp and accurate. You can go around bends without worrying about landing up in the lap of either Pooja Misrra or your Bihari country cousin.
So, you see, I’ve once again succeeded in being bizarre yet was able to tell you how I felt while driving a vehicle. And this, let me assure you, isn’t any ordinary vehicle. It’s a Range Rover. And the best thing is that it’s a Rangie that Pooja Misrra would drive as effortlessly as my mate in that village in Bihar – it’s looks mean that its perfectly at home in Bollywood, and its dynamic abilities mean that its equally at home in the rural landscape of our vast country. And hey, Victoria Beckham was its design consultant – so you get a bit of ‘spice’ added there too!
|Engine||2,179cc / 4 Cylinders / 16 Valves / DOHC / Turbocharged|
|Transmission||6-speed automatic with Drive Select & Paddle Shift / Four-Wheel Drive|
|Power||187bhp @ 3500rpm|
|Torque||420Nm @ 1750rpm|
|Price||Rs.52.3 Lakhs (Ex-showroom, Delhi)|
|XFactor||It’s Penélope Cruz in cowboy-country. Seductive, yet rugged!|