It’s beginning to feel like Jaguar Land Rover can’t put a foot wrong at the moment.
It’s producing model after model of success stories, chief among these is Land Rover’s stylish small SUV, the Evoque.
It bears the legendary Range Rover badge, which is something fans of the brand have grown accustomed to associating with models at the top of their tree – but is the Evoque worthy of the name?
First of all, it’s actually quite important to establish just what this car is. Or, at least, what it’s trying to be. And that’s a tricky one. You see, most Evoques sold will never see terrain any more challenging than an uneven speed bump in Knightsbridge, and they’ll handle said imperfection with composure and without any dramas.
Once dragged away from the urban sprawl, on the open road, drivers will find its optional dynamic suspension set up makes for an astonishingly rewarding drive – far better than any of its rivals. But, despite its impeccable road manners, it’s still a Land Rover at heart. It has a version of Land Rover’s Terrain Response system and, although you can choose a front wheel drive one if you must, it has all the off road capability a Range Rover should have.
So it’s definitely worthy of the badge then, but it goes further than that. The Evoque, which is the most stylish and customisable car to have emerged from the Range Rover stable to date, opens up the brand to an entirely new group of buyers. Few cars this side of, say, an Audi TT have been launched with such jaw-dropping concept-like looks but while the Audi turned out to be a bit of a damp squib, the Evoque is every bit as good as you expect it to be.
In ‘coupe’ form, with three doors and with the amazingly effective ‘magnetorheological’ dampers, it’s easy to forget you’re driving an SUV. It feels sporty and lively and can be thoroughly entertaining. There’s no pay-off in comfort and practicality, either. Even in the three-door, adults can fit in the back, despite its sloping roof line, and there’s plenty of space in boot. In the front it’s comfortable and classy, with a few touches borrowed from its Jaguar cousins and, despite its capabilities in the mud, there’s no utilitarian feel to it like you’d find in its older brother the Freelander, to which it owes a lot of its architecture.
The model I tested came with a 2.2 litre diesel engine with 6-speed automatic transmission. While there is a meatier petrol engine available, the diesel will be the popular choice as it’s extremely economical but still punchy enough to keep up with its rivals. Although the diesel engine’s flexibility suits the car, it could be quieter and the gear box works well while cruising, but doesn’t quite have the lightning-quick reactions to live up to the sporty drive.
But while the gearbox occasionally feels a bit lazy, I get the impression it’s solely due to the fact it’s been fitted to such a sporty car. You really do need to remind yourself sometimes that you’re driving an SUV and not a hot hatch. There’s very little to spoil all that enjoyment. The Meridian sound system is superb, there’s a dual view infotainment screen available, with surround cameras and TV, and you won’t regret opting for the huge panoramic glass roof.
A base-model Evoque can be had for around £30,000, but it’s well worth saving up another £10,000 to make sure you don’t miss out on some of the options that really make the car stand out. The LUX Pack, at £4,425, is pricey, but includes plenty of goodies to make it worth your while and it would be a travesty not to opt for the brilliant Adaptive Dynamics package, at a thoroughly reasonable £1,150.
Watch the Drive 10 Second Car Video of the Range Rover Evoque Black Design Pack Edition
Of course, you might also want to pick from one of the dozens – if not hundreds – of interior and exterior colour combinations to completely personalise your Evoque but, by this point, you’ll have realised how easy it is to sail towards the £50,000 mark. But go easy on the options, budget around £40,000, and you’ll certainly be driving one of the coolest cars to have been launched in the last few years.
There’s hardly anything to dislike about an Evoque but much to love. It’s another much-needed triumph for the legendary Jaguar Land Rover family and, with some exciting updates rumoured for the coming months (there’s even talk of a convertible version), it’s a success story that’s only just begun.
The highly competitive cost of ownership of the Range Rover Evoque will be helped even more by the addition of a very competitive Evoque 5 year Service Pack…Read More
Read More Land-Rover articles at Drive.co.uk/Land-Rover
No items found, please search again.