Paris is always a good idea. Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) certainly thinks so, and we couldn’t agree more. It’s our first excursion back since the pandemic, and the city hasn’t lost its charm. Throngs of tourists are back, it’s shopping galore along Champs-Élysées, Notre-Dame is being lovingly restored following the devastating fire of 2019, traffic around the Arc de Triomphe is as frantic as we remember, and the Eiffel Tower stands triumphant amidst it all.
Paris is in the thick of rugby fever when we arrive, with the World Cup finals a week away. And the good folk at JLR have decided the French capital is a good place to introduce its facelifted Evoque — the baby of the Range Rover family — as the compact SUV is popular in these parts. And it’s easy to see why.
The modern luxury SUV stands in pretty contrast to the Belle Époque architecture of the city and yet is evidently right at home along these picturesque Parisian streets. Particularly in Corinthian Bronze, a handsome chocolatey hue, to which we are handed the keys. It certainly struck a pretty picture juxtaposed against the revolving entrance of Le Royal Monceau — Raffles Paris, a beautiful 1920s hotel of historical renown transformed by Philippe Starck in 2010.
It is here that JLR has established the Range Rover House, a winsome pop-up that has so far traversed four continents and shown up in Sydney, the French Riviera, and the Italian Alps, offering clients – and potential clients – an intimate preview into the luxurious world of Range Rover via exceptional curated experiences crafted through a uniquely bespoke lens. Because it’s all about the Range Rover lifestyle, after all.
And what a fine lifestyle it is, indeed.
Equanimity is the new luxury
The refreshed Evoque evokes much of the same streamlined design and sustainable ethos introduced last year with the game-changing rendition of its Range Rover flagship. Its “reductive” cabin features a new centre console design anchored by a tactile new gear shifter — and nothing else. The console is therefore free of the unnecessary, with all analogue buttons completely done away with.
Instead, Range Rover says that up to 80 per cent of tasks can now be performed within two taps on the 11.4-inch curved glass touchscreen powered by Pivi Pro (still one of the best-looking digital interfaces on the market, in my opinion). Now, if cleanliness is next to godliness, then those flushed surfaces call upon the deity of calm. And equanimity is the new luxury, given the frenetic pace of the age in which we live.
Warmed bottoms on the journey
You simply could not ask for a more comfortable cabin for the one-and-a-half-hour journey from Le Royal Monceau to the Champagne region in the northeast of France. The ability to warm (or cool) your bottom at the touch of a button on a chilly day certainly puts you firmly in the league of luxury, as does knowing there’s cabin air purification technology — available for the first time on the Evoque — to neutralise allergens and keep you in the pinkest of health on the roads.
The cabin is très spacious, with light flowing through the panoramic glass roof, allowing you to take in more of the beautiful landscape on the leisurely drive through the countryside. We encountered a herd of deer lying languorously across the road that stirred and vanished from sight as soon as we approached, even though the plug-in hybrid was as silent as they came. Perhaps it was the new Pixel LED headlights on the vehicle that enabled us to mercifully avert a literal deer-in-the-headlights moment.
It’s remarkably silent inside the cabin, too, and that’s always another barometer of luxury we appreciate. The move to sustainability also means that you have the option of a leather-free cabin, with seats upholstered in newfangled fabrics such as a wool blend that’s no less luxurious and a wonderfully tactile alternative to leather.
A toast to perfection
We continue travelling in the intelligent all-wheel drive at an unhurried pace, as we’re in absolutely no rush to relinquish the wheel of the luxury SUV (except for our growling tummies that doth protest). So we make a brief pit-stop for lunch at boutique hotel Moulin Royale in Saint-Étienne-Roilaye where the Evoque gets charged up to its full electric-only range of 62km to take us through the rest of the journey.
After more than 150km on the road, we finally arrive at Veuve Clicquot in Reims, the capital of Champagne, and hand the keys back to the Range Rover personnel. Our reward? A private tour of the underground cellars, topped off with an exclusive tasting of some extraordinary champagnes, including a 1990 vintage. Santé!
Range Rover Evoque P300e
Engine: 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder petrol plug-in hybrid
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
0-100 kmh: 6.4 seconds
Top Speed: 213kmh
Fuel Consumption: 1.4-1.5 l/100km