What do you do when your new car has won 157 international automotive awards, is the fastest selling car the company has ever produced, but at three years of age, needs some extra pizzaz? You give it more luxury, more performance, more connectivity and a distinctive new (albeit slightly silly) name. Last month Range Rover flagged its intention to bring the most performance-focused Evoque yet to Geneva, and we've now had the opportunity to see it in the flesh. Meet the Range Rover Evoque Autobiography Dynamic.
Phoenix Orange metallic paint job aside, the Evoque Autobiography Dynamic has enough new features to tempt existing owners back to their dealerships for an upgrade.
The Evoque with the silly name will only be available with a turbo-charged 2.0-litre petrol engine producing 281 hp and a very healthy 400 Nm of torque, though Land Rover has not released details of exactly where peak power and peak torque are achieved in the rev range.
Just the same, that's a substantial 45 hp and 60 Nm increase compared with the existing Range Rover Evoque – more than some cars get in total. The performance gains have been achieved with a new single-scroll turbocharger, new engine management software and a freer-flowing exhaust system with "an appropriately muscular sound to complement the vehicle’s enhanced handling."
The 9-speed ZF automatic transmission with adaptive shift program has been retuned so that it will respond more readily to driver inputs, even when the gearshift is still sitting next to D (Drive). The transmission’s Sport mode and steering-wheel-mounted CommandShift paddle-type gear-selector offer more of the same. Land Rover claims "a noticeable increase in mid-range performance and gearshifts that seamlessly adapt to driver behavior."
All Autobiography Dynamics will come with the company's active driveline as standard equipment. Active driveline improves traction, enhances agility and improves fuel efficiency by engaging (or disengaging) four-wheel drive automatically as required. The active driveline switches to front-wheel drive during steady-state driving at speeds over 22mph, reducing drag losses from the rear drivetrain. When needed, the four-wheel-drive system automatically reactivates within 300 milliseconds.
The active driveline system also automatically distributes torque between the rear wheels, and can lock them together, all providing improved traction off road, and enhancing performance on it.
Torque Vectoring by Braking (TVB) functionality is standard equipment on the Autobiography Dynamic, operating on all four wheels to reduce understeer.
Completing a range of performance improvements, the front brake discs have been enlarged to 350mm, steering has been revised for greater precision, agility and turn-in response while the adaptive dampers have been recalibrated and their spring rates have been made firmer. According to the press materials, this has been achieved "without impacting on the Range Rover Evoque’s compliant ride quality", though firmer springs are firmer springs and it will be interesting to see how the company has achieved this.
Smartphone integration – almostProbably the most interesting aspect of the new car is its integration of the smartphone, a feature which will shortly become available as an option across the entire Range Rover range, using the company's InControl App.
Once your phone is connected to the vehicle’s USB port, InControl Apps enables vehicle-optimized smartphone apps to be displayed and controlled with their original look and feel from the Evoque's touchscreen.
Though it might take some time for app developers to "vehicle-optimize" their apps, a number of well-known apps will be available at launch, including iHeartRadio, AutoStitcher, Glympse, Sygic, Parkopedia, Hotelseeker, Cityseeker, Eventseeker, News on Board, Winston and MobileDay.
Though the InControl Apps solution is not perfect, it's a step in the right direction. With Apple now making a significant (if seemingly obvious) push to embrace the car dashboard with CarPlay (which looks set to find its way into the vehicles of a number of major auto manufacturers, including Jaguar Land Rover), better mirroring the music streaming, location services, weather services, contact databases ... and everything else we're accustomed to using when we're not driving a vehicle, seems greatly enhanced.
All of this is good news for the consumer as it makes sense to use the same interface and software we all use all day every day when we're driving, even if it's just to minimize driver distraction.
The Silly NameFinally, if you're wondering where the "Autobiography Dynamic" name came from, it is the new range-topping Evoque and Land Rover is hence positioning it above the existing Pure, Dynamic and Prestige versions. As it's sporty, like the Dynamic model, it got the rather cumbersome double-barrel name.
I guess this is the wrong time to point out that maybe Biography might have been a better choice of names – if someone else has bothered to write a biography, then you are indeed a somebody (which is what the name infers), whereas any pretentious shmutz can pen their own autobiography.