25 April 2017
There can be no question that Land Rover’s decision to build the Range Rover Evoque was an inspired one. It’s by far the company’s best seller, and though purists seem unwilling to forgive what they see as a dilution of the brand, everyone else has flocked to the Evoque in droves. If you can look past the wanton style, you’ll be able to see why. Quite simply, it’s very good.
The Evoque’s engine range is limited to just three power units, all of which are 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged blocks. The vast majority of sales are, unsurprisingly, accounted for by the two diesel powered engines, the more powerful of which is found under the bonnet of our test car.
It’s the same 177bhp engine you can find in the Jaguar XE, XF and F-Pace, and it’s a far more refined unit than the grumbly 2.2-litre we saw in the pre-facelift Evoque.
Strangely though, it’s less powerful, falling short of the old model’s 191bhp. Unless you do an awful lot of off-roading, though, you’d struggle to notice. It’ll get the five-door Evoque to 62mph in 8.5 seconds when mated to the nine-speed automatic transmission, and that’s more than enough for day-to-day use.
There’s visible improvement in terms of economy, though. These Ingenium engines have been built to cut JLR’s emissions and fuel consumption, and the ‘180’ engine here manages as much as 58.9mpg despite being mated exclusively to a four-wheel-drive system.
If you go for the less potent 148bhp ‘150’ engine, you can extend that economy to over 65mpg, but you’ll do so at the expense of four-wheel drive and a little performance.
One of the keys to the Evoque’s success is the way Land Rover has managed to mix comfort and handling, and the British brand has done nothing to damage that with this new model.
Despite this being the HSE ‘Dynamic’ model, fitted with all sorts of handling-improving electronic gubbins, Land Rover doesn’t even pretend that the Evoque is in any way ‘sporty’, but that hasn’t stopped them making it enjoyable to drive.
Of course, when all’s said and done it’s a big 4x4, so it rolls when you go through fast bends, but the steering is well weighted and more feelsome than you might expect. More importantly, though, it feels far more planted than the Discovery Sport – a trait particularly noticeable on the motorway – and it rides supply over low-speed bumps.
If you do want to have a bit of fun with it, there’s a sport mode that firms up the dampers and reduces body roll, but it isn’t particularly necessary and it severely compromises ride comfort.
Considering our test car’s options took the list price worryingly close to £50,000, it’s no surprise that quality was generally very good, but the Evoque does have one or two issues.
The switchgear on the steering wheel, for example, is a touch thin and plasticky, while there are a few suspect buttons dotted around the dashboard. All that said, however, the general impression is a classy one. There’s smart leather splashed liberally around the cabin, and there are digital readouts here, there and everywhere.
Everything feels well stuck together too, and although the touchscreen is starting to show its age, new graphics have freshened it up slightly.
As far as reliability is concerned, the basic underpinnings of this car have been on the road for many years, and major horror stories have been few and far between.
The only real question mark, therefore, is over the new engines, but given the bulletproof nature of the Discovery’s 3.0-litre V6 diesel and the relative reliability of the 2.2-litre engine that went before, we don’t envisage too many problems – especially not if drivers aren’t taking the car off-road.
Euro NCAP gave the Evoque five stars when it tested the car back in 2011, awarding a highly respectable 84% adult passenger protection score. It scored solidly in terms of child occupant protection too, although its 41% pedestrian protection score left a little to be desired.
The Evoque hasn’t really been designed with either space or practicality in mind – that’s the Discovery Sport’s job – but it’s more than capable of the school run or, at a pinch, a family weekend away.
Five-door vehicles are naturally easier to enter and exit, but the raised roofline also gives them more useable rear seats than their three-door siblings.
Meanwhile, the 420-litre boot is adequate without being impressive, marginally edging hatchbacks like the VW Golf in terms of outright volume but failing to match the likes of the Audi Q5 or Jaguar F-Pace.
Land Rover has boxed clever with the Evoque, setting the base price at a shade over £30,000 and then permitting you to spend more than £50,000 if the mood takes you.
Our test car was a HSE Dynamic with the more powerful diesel engine, four-wheel drive and the six-speed manual gearbox, so it was a mid-range car with a sensible £40,550 asking price. That was supplemented, however by a handful of choice options that brought the price up to almost £48,000. That’s Discovery money.
Still, if you can leave the options list alone, you’ll get a well-priced premium car with plenty of toys. Some will still brand the Evoque as a designer handbag on wheels, yet it actually has something for everyone. Not only does it look good, but it’s good to drive, reasonably spacious and perfectly competent off-road.
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