Last week, this road was under attack from WRC cars, on shakedown before Rally Sweden... sweeping between snow banks, oblivious to what lay beneath. If you were to cut out a portion of this surface, it would look like some sort of frosty sandwich. Gravel at the bottom, snow in the middle, icy crust on top. And today, we've added a garnish of Range Rover, a three-d oor Evoque in festive red. With its terrain-response system in the most suitable setting - Grass, Gravel and Snow - it digs down into the layers, drawing two lines in the tundra, up to its wheelnuts in winter.
We might be on the edge of Lapland, but going by the cold snap earlier this year, we could be outside Merthyr Tydfil on a chilly Tuesday. That's when you'll really find reassurance in a car like this, and it's why we've also brought an Audi Q3 along. Here are two small SUVs, both with a full-ish quota of extras including four-wheel drive, something the two brands have a bit of history with. One car is a heavily reskinned Volkswagen Tiguan, joining a range that now includes approximately nine thousand models. And the other is a rare new Rangie that has people of noticeably different genders arguing about who'll keep the keys. Launched in the wake of the Evoque, the Q3 was a tad overwhelmed.barrier cánh xoay Here's its chance to speak up.
Both use 4x4 systems that organise torque between the front and rear axles via a central, electronically controlled Haldex differential. Both have additional traction-control systems, though the Evoque's is more complex, and makes decisions based on what sort of scenery you've put it on. The ones you see here both have adaptive dampers, the expensive magnetic sort, standard on this Dynamic-spec Evoque and a £680 option above an SE-spec Q3.barrier bộ So both are comfy ways to move along a forest rally stage, though the Evoque smooths over the road with a touch more finesse, isolating you from the scrunch of tyres on snow and handling yumps with the poise of a well-sorted hot hatch. The Q3 gives a smidgen more feedback, but lacks the Rangie's almost flippant self-assurance.
Driving these two out here is like being in a pair of baubles, floating among the Christmas trees. They're a showy couple, designed for urbanites who like to stand out from the crowd, but the Evoque is easily the most dramatic. It's got a muscled-android look going on, as if it's just dropped in from a nearby galaxy on a column of steam and lasers. The Q3 looks apologetic in comparison, with a tiptoe stance and drooping nose, a feeling not helped by the extra set of doors, which somehow reduce sexiness (that said, a five-door Evoque still looks great). Inside, the Audi riffs almost every other Audi and is therefore lovely. You'd liken it to a five-star boutique... if you'd never seen the inside of an Evoque, with its dished steering wheel, luminescent displays, luxuriant veneers and pop-up gear-selector borrowed from Jaguar.