The Range Rover Evoque is Breaking the Mould

This year’s Pritzker Prize, architecture’s top honour, went to a man named Alejandro Aravena of Chile.

The prize is most often given to architects for grand, ambitious, high-profile work such as concert halls, museums, or national galleries. Glory projects, really. And past winners have included big names like Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Oscar Niemeyer, Rem Koolhaas, and Norman Foster.

Aravena, though, won for building affordable housing in Chile and Mexico. His Half of a Good House project gives residents the opportunity and space to expand and improve their own homes, and in doing this, the 48-year-old Chilean is shifting expectations of what architects can do by reorienting and broadening the job description. He’s a prime example of what happens when moulds are broken. So is the formative punk musicof Patti Smith, portraiture by Annie Leibovitz, and David Bowie’s musical revolution – he built an entire career by upending expectations and, forbetter or for worse, by constant reinvention.

In the world of automobiles, moulds are all too rarely broken. That’s not to say there aren’t brilliant creative minds at work – there are, in every design studio from Los Angeles to Seoul to Turin—but the companies themselves are so large that bureaucracy gets in theway. And with such vast sums of money on the line for a model’s design, construction, and marketing, most big companies tend to play it safe. Though lately, that has been changing.

This year, two automotive firms with deep-rooted traditions and strong heritage traded in routine for some jaw-dropping advancements.

The first is Bentley, a brand nearly as old as the car itself. Founded by W.O. Bentley in North London just after World War I, the firm made a name for itself building high-performance luxury cars: large sedans, coupés, and cabriolets with understated styling and gigantic engines with limitless power. It was W.O. himself whocoined the phrase, “There is no replacement for displacement,” a term later associated with muscle cars, but which means, essentially, that “bigger is better.”

And now, believe it or not, this storied British firm is building a truck. The Bentayga, as it is called, is Bentley’s first-ever SUV. Some might see it as heresy, an abandoning of 100 years of tradition, mould breaking of the worst kind. We think it’s a refreshing idea.

From behind the wheel, it feels like something new. And it’s more than a little shocking to discover just how fast it can cover ground. Why not bring the luxury and performance of a Bentley to a vehicle that can go anywhere, in any season? Ski weekend, cottage getaway, or family road trip in the works? Well, now there’s a Bentley for that. Of course, the Bentayga doesn’t throw out all Bentley tradition – it maybe an SUV, but in line with the brand’s “best-of-the-best” efforts, it’s still the most powerful in the world.

Highlights of this dazzling beast include a beautiful interior, a trunk-mounted picnic set complete with custom crystal champagne flutes, and an optional Mulliner Tourbillon dashboard clock that costs nearly an extra $170,000 USD.

Land Rover, the second firm breaking with tradition this year is also from Britain, although the two companies are worlds apart. And the brand’s new Range Rover Evoque convertible costs significantly less than Bentley’s dashboard tourbillon.

Land Rover’s reputation was built on the strength of its go-anywhere trucks for explorers and armies. But this year, the company has released a two-door drop-top. Yes, it’s an open-air Range Rover—but the added luxury doesn’t change that the Evoque convertible can still drive straight through a river.

The Bentayga and Evoque convertible may trigger some angst among sentimental enthusiasts, but nothing great was ever built by business as usual, or sticking with tradition and colouring inside the lines.