The phenomenal success of the Range Rover Evoque has largely been down to its looks, and the new entry-level eD4 is every bit as stylish as models further up the range.
You get the same unique profile as top-spec versions and the same stares from passers-by. Few cars generate as much interest from other road users as the Evoque, and that’s all part of its appeal. If you like blending into the background, the Range Rover isn’t for you.
Even the basic Pure spec has bold 18-inch alloys, LED running lights and a roof spoiler. Our test model also came with the £1,750 Pure Style pack, which adds bigger wheels, foglights, power folding mirrors and electric memory seats. Other ways of personalising your Evoque include privacy glass at the back and the £500 option to paint the sleek roof a different colour to the bodywork. So with the engine badges removed, even the most eagle-eyed enthusiast will struggle to spot any difference between the eD4 and its more expensive four-wheel-drive relatives.
The stunning exterior sets expectations for the cabin very high – and fortunately the Evoque doesn’t disappoint here, either. Climb aboard and you’re greeted with the same lavish interior trim that has made Range Rover’s larger models a byword for luxury.
The raised centre console and angled dash are finished in brushed aluminium, while the supportive heated front seats are trimmed in full leather as standard – that costs extra in the Audi and Volvo. Finding a comfortable driving position is easy thanks to the wide range of adjustment for the steering wheel, but the narrow rear window creates some tricky blind spots.
Other gadgets, such as the eight-inch touchscreen and Meridian sound system, add to the sense of occasion, even if the eD4 does without the Jaguar-style rising gear selector you get in auto versions. The generous equipment list and dramatic design give the Range Rover plenty of appeal, but it still trails the Audi in some areas. The switches don’t feel as slick as the Q3’s, while the touchscreen infotainment system is confusing to navigate and slow to react.
While the rear provides just about enough space for adults, the Evoque’s coupé lines and steeply raked tailgate result in a disappointing 420-litre boot: 75 litres less than the Volvo’s. Folding the seats down does improve matters, but you don’t get an entirely flat load area and the wide wheelarches eat into space as well.
Thanks to a 75kg saving in weight, the 148bhp eD4 doesn’t feel much slower than the more powerful 187bhp four-wheel-drive model. At the track, it sprinted from 0-60mph in only 9.8 seconds – an identical time to the XC60. What’s more, the six-speed box has a positive action that makes changes satisfying and the direct steering is pleasingly accurate.
Push harder and the Evoque reveals its off-road roots: it lacks the Audi’s poise and grip through tighter corners. Yet on the motorway, the refined 2.2-litre engine and hushed cabin make it a superb long-distance companion. Its ride is very firm, but it doesn’t crash or jitter like the Volvo.
Better still, the £27,960 eD4 Pure is crammed with kit and boasts very strong 62.3 per cent residuals. Only poor 35.8mpg economy counts against it. In other respects, the Evoque puts in the performance you’d expect from our reigning Car of the Year.
Chart position: 1WHY: Our Car of the Year has always turned heads. Now it’ll get attention for its emissions as well: the eD4 is the cleanest Range Rover ever.