It was a weekend, and we were up at 4am.
Quite rightly, we asked ourselves, why would anyone want to sacrifice the much-needed lazefest? Then we saw the keys of the Evoque giving us the tease. Case dismissed. It is the kind of stuff that turns older and much older men into kids looking to grab the maximum candy from the candy jar. The jar of candy, in this case, was being able to drive roughly 1200km into the core of Karnataka for undiluted rainforest fun at the Tamara resort in Coorg.
It is pure joy, this car – a complete package that delivers on so many fronts. The best-looking Range Rover yet managed to grab eyeballs everywhere we drove. The signature LED lights along with the vents on the bonnet and along the side exude a wicked sense of presence. The Evoque is not the fastest thing on the road, but it does drive like a charm. At high speeds, it latches onto the tarmac in typical Range Rover-style, offering a sense of safety while exhibiting sportscar- like driving dynamics. Driving the Evoque on the NH4 illustrated its excellent character. You can clock triple-digit speeds and be assured the tractor that swerved into your lane seconds before you were to overtake it doesn’t end up inside your car.
The panoramic fixed sunroof adds airiness and the automatic transmission along with cruise-control function makes kilometre-crunching a breeze. Once you pull off the NH4 and drive into the Hubli-Dharwad bypass, we recommend you switch to the paddle shifters for a more engaging drive. The road leading to NH17 via Yellapur offers a pile of twisties and great tarmac. This is where you begin to respect the car even more thanks to its ingenious handling.
The car’s Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system automatically steps in in the event of you losing control. The digital sorcery on the inside reduces torque and/or applies brakes to counter understeer or oversteer and regain control and traction.
The Hill Descent Control (HDC) which restricts downhill speed to a safe limit using the ABS, worked perfectly as we set about climbing and descending the underbelly of the rainforest around Tamara.
When we got there, one of the rangers told us about a beaten path that is used to take guests on a sense-tingling, 4-hour-plus climb to the top of Thadiyandamol peak@5741 feet. Our thought: Why not drive? So drive we did, till the last spot we could. The route snaking its way up was lined with rocks, mud, foliage and streams, as you see above. We were in LOTR-ish territory and it was time to shed two decades from our age specs. The Evoque thrilled us to the limits; dare we call her a baby Range Rover anymore!