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LEAD: NEW BOXES AND SUITS MAKE OFF-ROADING FUN

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The revised Range Rover Evoque SD4

A much-awaited new gearbox and minor tweaks make a world of difference

In the course of 2014, Range Rover revised their fashionable 4×4. At first glance, you don’t really see the changes to the vehicle, as most of the changes are below the skin.

The range still offers Prestige and Dynamic, with the main difference being the body kit. The Prestige model being better for off-road thanks to the higher ground clearance, although many buyers opt for the Dynamic version because it looks a lot sportier. In the new line-up Range Rover has realised that many of the owners of these vehicles don’t use the off-road capability, so they have now launched a Pure version. The big difference from the outside is the size and type of mag wheels, with the Pure wearing 18 inch, Prestige 19 inch and Dynamic 20 inch rims. Needless to say, the Dynamic still looks the best.

The powertrains available have remained unchanged with the option of 2,0 litre petrol or 2,2 litre diesel. The one big criticism of the original Evoque was the gearbox, which was lazy at best. This thankfully has been changed, as Range Rover now has a nine-speed gearbox. This gearbox has changed the entire drive of the vehicle from being a lazy and lethargic vehicle to a sporty, responsive, almost athletic vehicle. This makes the car more fun to drive and reduces the fuel consumption as you no longer add additional pressure to the accelerator pedal hoping for faster reactions.

The interior of the vehicle has remained mainly unchanged, except that the flamboyant interior has been toned down on the Pure and Prestige ranges. The steering wheel and dashboard have all remained unchanged. The touch screen display that controls the entertainment and navigation works well.

On the road, the raised ride height improves visibility and gives you a sense of comfort or superiority, depending on your point of view. The driving position is easily perfected for almost any driver, thanks to the electronically adjustable seats and a steering wheel that can be adjusted for height and fore and aft. The ride is comfy yet firm and with the new gearbox the vehicle feels more like a sports vehicle than an off-road vehicle. Once the road ends, all that is required is to select the terrain that you want to tackle, which is done at the touch of a button. Then you leave it up to the vehicle and with its renowned four-wheeled system, any terrain is just a synch. If you do have the Dynamic version like the one I tested, keep in mind that the bumper height is lower than you would like. I have seen a few Evoques with the rear bumper ripped off, as many a driver does not realise that the departure and approach angle of the vehicle is less.

That being said, the revised Evoque is a big improvement on the older vehicle. The 2,2 litre diesel motor on test was powerful and frugal at the same time, making this a perfectly balanced vehicle. The full-time four-wheel drive system assists with the overall grip and gives you a sense of control, especially in wet weather. This runway model still has the looks, but now has the gearbox to match.

 

 

ChevTrailblazer

Chevrolet Trailblazer 2.8 LTZ

The refreshed trailblazer has been given some nips and tucks that add sophistication to the all-round vehicle

In the crazy world we live in, one specific type of car just won’t do. We need a 4×4 with low range to take on the great outdoors. Then we need a family vehicle that can carry the kids with their extramural activity equipment from cricket and hockey to cycling, and then we need something with decent fuel economy to take us to work. All this and we still want a vehicle that has reasonable power and a high ride height that gives us a sense of safety on the road.

Many manufacturers have come up with an SUV that does cater for most of the needs required by today’s power families. In that regard, Chevrolet has just updated its Trailblazer range in South Africa.

To start with, they gave the outside somewhat of a classy and sophisticated look. The front end has the new split grill with the famous gold bowtie in the middle. The headlights have been sculptured to fit perfectly between the bonnet bulge and flared fender grill, with a slightly narrowed section on the inside. The indicator lights have been placed in the top section of the headlight cluster, making it look almost like eyebrows. The rear lights keep this style with the indicator placed in the top section while the brake and night lights are placed in a rectangular section and are lit up by LED globes. The rear light cluster is also stretched on the sides of the vehicle, again adding to the sophisticated look. The high ground clearance gives the car a presence while the chrome mirrors add a certain ruggedness to the look.

Inside this vehicle, you are pleasantly surprised to find luxurious leather seats and an almost car-like driving position. It’s a contrasting feel to the outside look, which even though it looks sophisticated, still has a rugged appearance. The vehicle’s five plus two seating plan is common, but in this vehicle the rear two seats fold flat into the loading bay. This makes the loading bay easy to use as there are no seats taking up the space. The nice thing though is when you do need the seven seats you can fit adults into the last row of seats, but not for long distances. There are also air vents in the rear section of the cabin, which makes the rear seats more comfortable.

The 2,8 litre Duramax diesel motor oozed torque and this, mated with the automatic gearbox, assisted in making the vehicle drive more like a car. The gear changes are smooth, and the steering is effortless. That being said, this is a large vehicle so parking can become tricky. That’s why Chevrolet has installed park distance and a rear-view camera.

The raised ride height and rugged look are not just for show, as the vehicle comes with diff lock and low range, which makes it a go-anywhere vehicle. The versatility of the interior makes loading almost anything possible. Add a towbar, and the carrying options become limitless.

On the road the car drives well; there is a high centre of gravity, so high-speed cornering is not recommended. Also on harsh acceleration the motor screams at you as the gearbox tries to find the best gear for what you want. So smooth acceleration will result in smooth gear changes, good fuel consumption, and no screaming from the motor or the passengers.

I think this is one of the better family go-anywhere SUVs on the market. It has a softer ride than most, and everything works well. The looks … well you either like it or not. I think it’s like having a rugged outdoor vehicle in a suit.

MANUFACTURER SPECIFICATIONS

Range Rover Evoque

Engine: 2,2 l Four-cylinder Turbo Diesel

Power: 140 kW

Torque: 420 Nm

0–100 km/h: 8,5 s (claimed)

Fuel: Average 6,3 l /100 km

CO2: 167 g/km

Price: From R640 700

Chevrolet Trailblazer

Engine: 2,8 l 4-cylinder Turbo Diesel

Power: 144 kW

Torque: 500 Nm

0–100 km/h: 10,6 s (claimed)

Fuel: Average 9,5 l /100 km

CO2: 254 g/km

Price: From R426 300

Author:

Torque Talk is a member of SAGMJ

 

 

 

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