Range Rover Evoque review
The Range Rover Evoque was our Best Compact SUV of 2013, with a luxury interior and true off-road ability
The Range Rover Evoque is surely one of the most stylish cars you can buy, but its appeal stretches further than just the looks - in fact, the Evoque was a groundbreaking premium SUV when it launched. The way the Evoque looks is the most striking thing about it, with rivals like the Audi Q3 looking very plain indeed, but there's so much more to it than that. It's undoubtedly a Range Rover, being great off-road and featuring a luxurious interior, but it's easy to drive around town thanks to the smaller dimensions. The Range Rover Evoque has been a massive success for Land Rover, too, with hundreds of extra jobs at its factory at Halewood created to meet demand. You can buy the smallest car in the Range Rover line-up in three-door and five-door models, as well as with a choice of three engines and specification levels. This continues with the option of two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, too - so owners who don't expect to go off road can benefit from the lower costs. A new nine-speed automatic gearbox has now gone on sale too - helping to increase both the cruising refinement and fuel economy of this head-turning 4x4. A new technology called 'Active Driveline' is also available on the hottest petrol model, which disconnects the rear wheel to help save fuel on longer runs.
Our choice: Range Rover Evoque 2.2 eD4 Pure
The Range Rover Evoque is certainly a unique car - there's nothing else like it on the road. The sloping roofline, thin headlights, small glass area and chunky front bumper give the car a sporty and head-turning look - it even puts rivals like the otherwise desirable Audi Q3 to shame. You can choose from 12 body colours, three different roof colours and seven alloy wheel designs, so the Range Rover Evoque is easy to customise when you buy - something that will appeal to a lot of the target audience. The high quality materials used inside the car give it a very classy feel, too. All models get 18-inch alloy wheels, heated leather seats, climate control, a touchscreen display and Bluetooth as standard. Upgrade to the Prestige model to get full leather upholstery with a wood finish and 19-inch alloys, while the top-spec Dynamic model features deeper sills and bumpers, black highlights on the mirrors and 20-inch alloys. A Black Design Pack was revealed at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show and adds 20-inch black gloss alloy wheels, darkened front lights, a rear spoiler and new badges on the front and back. You can get the Evoque as a three or five-door car, but there aren't any obvious differences - apart from the extra doors. Both models have the same width, length and wheelbase, and the design is totally unchanged, too. The lastest version of the car (launched in 2014) keeps the styling the same but the range has been expanded with new interior and exterior colours and trims and a subtly redesigned badge on the boot lid and grille.
MagneRide adaptive dampers come as standard on the Range Rover Evoque, which is a neat system that keeps the car stable and composed in the corners, with minimal body roll. It's surprisingly agile and good to drive for a big SUV, and it even managed to retain the relaxing feel that you get from a comfortable 4x4. The Evoque’s 1,640kg kerbweight can lead to understeer if you push too hard in the corners, but the steering is precise and the car turns into corners quickly. We'd go for the entry-level 147bhp 2.2 eD4 diesel engine, which will be powerful enough for almost all buyers and it gets decent fuel economy, too. 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 again it's very thirsty. The new nine-speed automatic gearbox is very 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. Use the paddles on the steering wheel and its its easy to get stuck between third and fourth gear - as that's all you need on a fast A-road. The six-speed manual is just as precise, but most customers favour the automatic version.
Euro NCAP awarded the Range Rover Evoque with the full five stars for safety in 2011, with the car getting 86 per cent for adult occupant protection and 86 per cent in the safety assist category. Safety equipment standard on all models includes driver, passenger, knee, side and thorax airbags, as well as Isofix child seat fixings and electronic stability control. Land Rover's excellent Terrain Response system comes on models fitted with four-wheel drive, which has a wide range of useful features to keep you safe and on track when driving off-road. Land Rover doesn't have the best reputation for reliability, but the Evoque finished 52nd in the 2013 Driver Power Top 100, even beating rivals like the BMW X3. There have been a few recalls over the past two years but overall Land Rover's reliability record seems to be on the up.
With dimensions of 4,365mm long, 1,965mm wide and 1,635mm tall, the Evoque offers plenty of interior space. The Evoque is 15cm longer than a Volkswagen Golf, so there's plenty of room for passengers inside the car - though we recommend the five-door version if you're planning to have people in and out of the back a lot. Visibility, especially at the back, is very poor, but the high seating position does give a commanding view of the road ahead and the seats are very comfortable. The five-door model gets a 575-litre boot, which expands to 1,445 litres with the rear seats folded. Go for the Coupe and these figures drop to 550 and 1,350 litres respectively. Technology like Hill Descent Control, which gradually brings the car down a steep hill, and Terrain Response, which automatically changes the car's setting for off-loading, mean the Evoque is a very capable off-roader, too.
To keep company car tax low, or simply to keep the cost of motoring down, the front-wheel drive eD4 model, which gets a 147bhp 2.2-litre diesel, will be the best model to go for. That model gets an impressive (for a big SUV) 57mpg and CO2 emissions of 133g/km. Avoid the four-wheel-drive 187bhp 2.2 diesel unless you need the extra off-road grip, as it gets 49.6mpg and emits 149g/km CO2 - though we expect it will be a lot lower than that in the real world. The 237bhp SI4 turbocharged petrol returns 32.5mpg 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. However the lenghty options list can very easily add big numbers to the final price - with the 'Lux' pack costing nearing £5,000 - and equipment like a digital TV tuner, safety kit and new tech like a wading depth sensor and lane keep assistant all cost extra too.