An on-and-offroad driving tour around Athens
The first generation Evoque signaled a dramatic design change for the Land Rover brand when it debuted in 2011. Derived from the 2008 LRX Concept, it not only introduced a new styling vocabulary but also a completely new category of compact utility vehicle suited to the driving issues of confined urban environments. Instantly recognizable was the Evoque’s distinctive tapered silhouette that pinched towards the back. It took the design vibe of a hot hatch and melded it with Land Rover’s rugged, go anywhere DNA.
The second generation Evoque starts its run as a 2020 model. Developed under the design direction of Gerry McGovern, it shares a stronger aesthetic connection with the bigger ‘Street’ Rover, the Velar with looks more tailored and refined. Land Rover invited me to attend a wave of the global media drive staged around Athens, Greece. It tuned out to be an opportunity to experience how much more the second generation Evoque’s capabilities extend beyond city driving.
I’ve been on enough media drives to have a routine set in my mind about shooting photos. The shorter and more packed the schedule is, the trickier it is to get long blocks of shooting time. Always before a drive begins, vehicles will be staged together at the hotel, and I like to get out early and do some shooting while everyone else is at breakfast. The tight confines of this Athens airport hotel courtyard was were around a dozen Evoques waited. Normally I’d try and cut the reflections in the glass and paint out with a circular polarizing filter, but the this case I liked the patterns created from the surrounding architecture.
Setting off from the hotel, we were told there would be a number of off-road sections including a couple water crossings and a mile or so of driving in a dry river bed. And since this was Greece, we’d get to drive a gravel road that had all the features of an Acropolis-style rally stage. Is it easy to Scandinavian-flick the Evoque on gravel? No, it is not.
Included in the morning leg of the drive were stops at a Greek monastery dating from 1463 and the Amimoni restaurant in Nafplio perched on a cliff that overlooks the Argolic Gulf. It was nice to see the skies and Mediterranean both sharing a sharp blue hue.
A night at Amanzoe
Aman properties are on another level and I’ve been able to stay at a few of them so far. Southwest of Athens is Amanzoe in Kranidi, Greece. The hilltop location was designed to pay homage to ancient Greek architecture in a simplified, modern way. In keeping with the other Aman locations I’ve been to, everyplace you look is beautiful and considered. I walked the entire property near sunset and again at sunrise and the early spring light was pretty special.
On a patio that overlooked the valley and Mediterranean in the distance, Land Rover parked a First Edition Evoque. The setting was perfect for some golden hour photos and an opportunity to study some of the exterior details including the taillights designed with a 3D infinity mirror effect when illuminated.
Before departing Amanzoe for the return drive to Athens I had some time to shoot the Evoques staged at the entrance. The red diesel model was my favorite of the pack, as a paint option. It picked up some really juicy reflections in the morning sunlight. The route back to Athens was far from an easy cruise on the highway. One of the more precarious legs of the drive was up a mountain to the top of the Troizina wind farm. The steep and rocky road had no guard rails and sheer cliffs ready to punish a lapse in driving concentration.
Returning to Athens, I had a short time to wander around the city and get a quick look at some of the ancient ruin sites. It was my first time visiting Greece and my experience is that it is a place with a lot of contrasts. Most striking were the amount of abandoned unfinished building or modern ruins as I called them over the course of the drive. They were a harsh reminder of the economic realities the country was grappling with set against a backdrop of stunning mountain landscapes and the saturated blue hue of the Mediterranean.
Thanks to Land Rover for hosting me on this trip and covering airfare, hotels and meals.
Photos and Text: Dave Pinter