Range Rover Evoque review
The Range Rover Evoque combines head-turning looks with awesome off-road ability and tech
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, thanks to 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 on the road that can match it 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.
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 price tag. 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 a 147bhp diesel. That same engine is also available with 187bhp, 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 240bhp turbocharged petrol, and it's only available on the Dynamic and Dynamic Lux trims.
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.
In terms of further tech, the 240bhp petrol gets a feature called 'Active Driveline' which disconnects power to the rear wheels to save fuel when cruising.
Our choice: Range Rover Evoque 2.2 eD4 Pure
Engines, performance and drive
Land Rover fits adaptive magnetic MagneRide dampers to the Range Rover Evoque as standard, and this means it's 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 1,640kg kerbweight can lead to understeer if it's pushed too hard in the corners, but the steering is precise and the car turns in quickly.
We'd opt for the entry-level 147bhp 2.2 eD4 diesel engine, which will be powerful enough for almost all buyers.
The 187bhp 2.2 sD4 diesel suits those after more power, but it's much 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. What's more, it's only available on Dynamic models of both the three and five-door Evoque.
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.
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.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
The smallest engine in the Range Rover Evoque line-up is the front-wheel drive eD4 model, which gets a 147bhp 2.2-litre diesel unit under the bonnet.
That model manages a respectable (in SUV terms at least) 56.5 mpg with CO2 emissions of 133g/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 187bhp 2.2 diesel as it returns only 49.6mpg on the combined cycle and emits 149g/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.
The thirsty 237bhp SI4 turbocharged petrol returns 36.2mpg and emits 199g/km 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 58.7 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.
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 Q3, 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 keeps the 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 in our pictures 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.
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.
One downside is that you have to use Land Rover’s rather dated infotainment system. The graphics aren’t great, but the system itself is easy to get along with, as there aren’t many menus to go through to get to the different audio and climate settings. However, if you want something more up-to-date, the system from the Discovery Sport will appear in the Evoque later this year.
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.
At the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, Land Rover revealed a Black Design Pack for the Range Rover Evoque, which includes black gloss alloy wheels, darkened front lights, a rear spoiler and new blacked-up Range Rover badges on the front and back.
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.
Better still, the driving position is spot-on and, as you’d expect from a Range Rover, you get a commanding view of the road ahead.
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.
It's worth noting though, that the low-slung roofline on the Evoque means headroom is a bit tight, and shallow side windows create a slightly hemmed-in feel. 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 also leads the way for carrying capacity thanks to its vast 575-litre boot - go for the coupe and these figures drop to 550 and 1,350 litres respectively.
Land Rover technology like Hill Descent Control, which gradually brings the car down a steep hill, and Terrain Response, which automatically changes the car's settings for off-roading, mean the Range Rover Evoque is a very capable off-roader, too.
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.
It 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.