Range Rover Evoque review
Baby Range Rover is big on style and personality, plus offers off-road ability rivals cannot.
The Range Rover Evoque is Land Rover’s most successful ever model and it’s easy to see why. It’s not quite a cut-price range Rover, but a lot of the tech, capability and style have been crammed inside this compact SUV.
The Evoque has been around since 2011 and only seen minor updates since then, but it remains smooth to drive, comfortable to sit in and has never been cheaper to run thanks to the addition of JLR’s new Ingenium diesel engines.
Refinement has also taken a step up and equipped with the nine-speed automatic gearbox, there are few more luxurious compact SUVs out there. Just be careful with the options as the price can quickly add up.
The Range Rover Evoque wowed crowds when it went on sale back in 2011 and it only takes one look to understand how it still turns heads today. We voted it as our favourite compact SUV in the 2013 Auto Express New Car Awards, praising its blend of style, performance, economy and off-road ability.
Available both as a conventional five-door and sleeker three-door, there are few cars in this price bracket that can match the Evoque for sheer kerb-appeal. The newer BMW X4 and Porsche Macan come close, but cars like the Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60 look dull in comparison.
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While it delivers style in spades, the Evoque doesn't come cheap. With prices starting just shy of £30,000, there's no denying the baby Range Rover commands a premium. It's available with the option of four-wheel drive, with this version proving incredibly capable off-road. Most UK users will manage with the more economical front-wheel drive version, though.
On both three-door coupe and five-door Evoque models, there are three trim-levels available: entry-level Pure, mid-range Dynamic and the flagship Autobiography. In between the core models, Land Rover also offers Pure Tech and Dynamic Lux versions, adding additional kit for a modest additional outlay.
The Range Rover Evoque is powered by one of two engines, with the range kicked off by JLR’s new 148bhp Ingenium diesel. That same engine is also available with 178bhp, and while it feels quicker on the open road, the lesser engine will suffice for most buyers. The only petrol engine in the range is a 237bhp turbocharged unit.
Land Rover recently added a new nine-speed automatic gearbox to the Range Rover Evoque range and while nine gears may sound a little superfluous, it has helped to increase both the cruising refinement and fuel economy.
Engines, performance and drive
Land Rover fits adaptive magnetic MagneRide dampers to the Range Rover Evoque as standard, and this helps it stay stable and composed in corners, with body roll kept to a minimum.
The Evoque is good to drive, too and it's pretty relaxing on longer journeys. On the move, refinement is good and the ride is decent over most road surfaces, although the odd bump can upset the bigger 20-inch wheels, sending a nasty jolt up into the cabin.
Be aware though, that the baby Range Rover's hefty 1,640kg kerb weight can send it running wide if it's pushed too hard in the corners. At least the steering is precise and the car turns in quickly.
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The Range Rover Evoque's new nine-speed automatic gearbox is smooth, particularly when pulling away from a standstill, and on the motorway it is quick to change up to save as much fuel as possible. However, around town the gearbox can get confused as to what gear to be in, as there are so many of them. This can result in slight jerky progress.
When using the steering wheel-mounted gearshift paddles, its easy to get stuck between third and fourth gear – but that's all you need on a fast A-road. The six-speed manual is just as precise, but most customers will favour the automatic version.
It's worth noting that visibility is also an issue in the Range Rover Evoque. The view ahead from the high-set driving position is excellent, but the shallow side windows and letterbox-like rear window can make parking a bit tricky – although rear parking sensors are standard on all models.
Land Rover technology like Hill Descent Control, which gradually eases the car down a steep hill, and Terrain Response, which automatically changes the car's settings for off-road driving, mean the Range Rover Evoque is a very capable off-roader too.
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We'd opt for the entry-level 148bhp 2.0 TD4 diesel engine, which will be powerful enough for almost all buyers. It’ll hit 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds, which is quicker than the old 2.2-litre diesel engine but also more efficient.
The new engine is far quieter and a lot more refined than the old 2.2-litre diesel. It’s more hushed on a motorway cruise and especially around town, which makes it more relaxing to drive.
The 178bhp 2.0 TD4 diesel suits those after more power and can hit 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds, but it's slightly more expensive to run. The powerful 237bhp 2.0 Si4 turbocharged petrol is quick, with a 0-60mph time of about seven seconds, but as expected, it's very thirsty so we’d steer clear of that. What's more, it's only available on Dynamic models of both the three and five-door Evoque.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
The smallest engine in the Range Rover Evoque line-up is the front-wheel drive TD4 model, which gets a 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel unit under the bonnet.
That model manages an impressive (in SUV terms at least) 65.7 mpg with CO2 emissions of 113g/km, so it's no surprise that this particular engine is a favourite among Evoque buyers.
Unless you're a serious off-roader, avoid the four-wheel-drive 178bhp 2.0 diesel as it returns just over 55mpg on the combined cycle and emits 134g/km of CO2. We'd expect fuel economy to be significantly lower in the real world, but selecting the nine-speed gearbox does help matters in this department.
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The thirsty 237bhp SI4 turbocharged petrol returns 36.2mpg and emits 199g/km of CO2, which means it should probably be avoided in most cases – it will probably be even worse on fuel than the figures suggest too.
The cost of servicing across the range isn’t cheap, but it isn’t any more than you’d expect for a premium SUV like the Evoque.
The Range Rover enjoys spectacularly strong 57.1 per cent residual values, and better still, Land Rover now offers a pre-paid servicing pack that covers five years of maintenance for just under £500.
The Evoque will retain far more of its value over a three-year period than the BMW X1 and Audi Q3. Land Rover has calculated that the improved running costs, longer service intervals and strong residual values could potentially save owners up to £3,700 over three years of ownership.
Although it will retain more of its value, the Evoque does attract a higher insurance group than its closest rivals. Group 33 for the 178bhp diesel is significantly higher than the equivalent Audi Q3 which is situated in group 24. That means you can expect to pay a few hundred pounds more in car insurance for the Range Rover.
Interior, design and technology
When the Evoque was launched in 2011, it caused a major stir in the crossover class, and even after four years in dealers and thousands of cars sold, its concept car looks still manage to turn heads. The slab sides and small windows mean it appears sportier than the Q5, even though it’s taller, while the black window pillars and clamshell bonnet are a modern update to the traditional Range Rover look.
The Evoque was facelifted in 2014, but it kept its overall styling the same. However, the line-up has been expanded with new interior and exterior colours, new trims and a subtly redesigned badge on the boot lid and grille.
The Autobiography model features vast 20-inch wheels that fill the arches, but if you go for the entry-level Pure model, it has 18-inch wheels that look a little lost next to all the black plastic trim adorning the exterior.
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Up front, the rounded nose features a slender grille and light clusters, but you only get halogen bulbs as standard. Xenons with distinctive LED running lights are £900, while full LED lamps aren’t even offered. At the back, the tail-lights have a similar look to the front, while the high-set back bumper and low roof give a rakish stance.
Inside, the Evoque has a classy layout that comes close to matching the Audi Q3 for quality. The cabin layout features chunky rotary controls and solid switches, plus a rotary gear selector and a bank of buttons to select the assorted drive modes for the Terrain Response system.
While the cabin looks good, it’s also pretty well equipped. You get heated leather seats as standard, and two-zone climate control is also included. Plus, there are plenty of extras you can add. A panoramic roof is £950, privacy glass is £350 and a heated steering wheel is £185.
Despite the fact that the Evoque is available as either a three or five-door car, there aren't any obvious differences apart from the extra doors. Both models have the same width, length and wheelbase, and the design is basically unchanged, too.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
One downside is that you have to use Land Rover’s rather dated infotainment system, which even though has been updated still lags behind BMW’s iDrive system for functionality.
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The graphics aren’t great, but the system itself is easy to get along with, as there aren’t too many menus to go through to get to the different audio and climate settings. The touchscreen does require a firm prod with your finger before anything happens, however.
Other interesting tech includes a wifi hotspot, which allows passengers inside the car to connect smartphones and laptops to the internet on the move.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
The Range Rover Evoque is by no means small, at almost five meters long and two meters high. It's no surprise then, that there's plenty of space for passengers.
For that extra bit of practicality, we'd recommend the five-door Evoque option but either way, rear visibility is pretty poor. At least the high seating position does give a commanding view of the road ahead and the seats are very comfortable.
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It's worth noting that the low-slung roofline on the Evoque means headroom is a bit tight, and shallow side windows create a slightly hemmed-in feel when you sit in the rear. The optional panoramic roof worth around £800 is a pricey option, but it lets in lots of much-needed light.
Look elsewhere in the cabin and you’ll discover plenty of useful storage space and a number of handy cup-holders. The five-door Evoque is spacious enough thanks to its vast 420-litre boot, but rivals are more spacious.
It may not look it, but the Evoque is smaller than both the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 and it shows inside. The rear seats do fold completely flat which is a bonus when sliding bulkier items in but rear passengers will be more comfortable in the BMW or Audi as there is more space.
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Leg room, head room & passenger space
The sloping roofline may look great but it does have a direct impact on passenger space in the rear. The middle seat is slightly elevated and with three passengers back there it can feel a little bit cramped. The rear windows are also quite small, which creates a sense of claustrophobia especially when compared to the airy X1.
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The 420-litre boot is 85 litres smaller than the X1’s capacity, but with the rear seats folded flat space increases to 1,445 litres. If you go for the three-door coupe Evoque, you get the same 420 litres of boot space with all five seats in place, but with the rear seast down, capacity is reduced to 1,350 litres.
Reliability and Safety
While the Evoque has attracted buyers with its sharp style, its long-term appeal leaves something to be desired. It first appeared in our Driver Power survey in 2013 in a lowly 52nd place, but jumped to 36th in 2014.
However, this year it ranked 116th in our top 200. In the past, owners have been critical of the car’s running costs and practicality, but they praised in-car tech and its comfort and reliability. So as long as you can live with the compromises, the Evoque should stand you in good stead.
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The Evoque earned a five-star Euro NCAP rating in 2011, but it has lower overall percentage than the Audi Q3. However, it has plenty of safety kit, while Land Rover’s patented Terrain Response system will help the Evoque to venture further off-road.
There have been a few recalls over the past two years but overall Land Rover's reliability record seems to be on the up.
Every Evoque comes with a three-year fully-comprehensive unlimited mileage warranty and road-side assistance after purchase. Land Rover also offers an extended warranty to give customers a further piece of mind.
Land Rover recommends the Evoque is serviced every 12 months. It offers a one off fixed price service plan of £499 which covers five years or 50,000 miles – whichever comes first.
Buyers also have the option to extend the mileage limit to 75,000 miles for an additional £149 if desired. The plans include the repair or replacement of parts such as oil filters, air filters, new engine oil, washer fluid and brake fluid top up.