Range Rover Evoque: First report

Our reigning Car Of The Year is the latest to join our fleet... and we even helped build it

Has there been a more talked about car over the past year than the Range Rover Evoque? From its tie-up with Victoria Beckham to Land Rover employing more people to keep up with demand, it’s rarely out of the headlines – for all the right reasons.
And now our Car of the Year has got a chance to live up to the hype with a tough year ahead of it on the Auto Express fleet.
Our journey began on my iPad, where I specced the colour and trim of our car using Range Rover’s Evoque app – quite a fun game in itself. There’s a huge variety of body, roof and interior colour combinations to play with, but you have to go on to the website to go through the final kit list.
I decided on a five-door Dynamic with the higher-powered 2.2-litre diesel engine and six-speed auto, and went for Firenza Red with a contrasting white roof that has the most fantastic full-length panoramic roof.
Unlike many German rivals, the car comes pretty well specced and the options list is best dealt with by choosing a pack – in my case the Lux one, which includes the impressive Meridian surround sound system, surround cameras, a powered tailgate and keyless entry, among other things.
Back in February, I visited Land Rover’s factory in Halewood on Merseyside to see my car going down the production line. Car factories are pretty amazing places, but Halewood is one of the best, churning out a beautifully built Evoque every 70 seconds.
Then, about a month later, we met again, this time for a more formal handover from Matthew Gurney at Lookers Land Rover in Park Royal, London. Matthew explained all the features of my car (quite a few), including the self-parking system to help me parallel park. As if I really need it…
Within the space of 10 days, I’m already heading towards 1,500 miles on the clock, helped in no small part by my first trip back to Merseyside with the Evoque. Don’t worry, nothing’s gone wrong. I’m a Liverpool fan, so I’m a regular on the M40 and M6 between my home in the south and my second home in the north – Anfield.
So far I’m impressed by the comfort and refinement of the Evoque on the motorway. Despite those sexy 20-inch wheels, the ride is quite comfortable (as long as you avoid selecting the adaptive dampers’ Dynamic mode) and the front seats are really supportive.
Rear space isn’t too bad, although the only time I’ve had all three of my kids on board, they were moaning about being slightly cramped. I’m not sure our dog is going to be too happy in the boot, either – it’s not exactly enormous and may prove challenging if all six of us go away.
Still, if anyone’s unhappy, they only have to look skywards through the fabulous full-length glass roof, a worthwhile £500 option. I’d imagine the back would be a bit dark without it, as the rear and back windows are a bit shallow. They could also make reversing a little tricky without the aid of a rear parking camera. In fact, there are cameras all around my Evoque: at the back, the sides and the front. They should come in handy when I take the car off road.
This isn’t a car I want to get dirty, though. It’s a real head-turner and gets admiring glances from pedestrians and fellow motorists alike. The only blemish is the tow bar – not the nicest integration I’ve seen. Had I known, I’d have bought a bike rack for the roof rather than a tow bar.
Still I doubt many of the forthcoming Victoria Beckham-styled Evoques will have tow bars. This is a car that suits Mrs Beckham down to the ground – it may have a new name for a Range Rover, but it’s still posh.

Extra Info

“I was amazed at how smooth the ride in our Evoque was. Even on the standard 20-inch alloys, it soaks ups the bumps of city roads really well.”Paul Bond, Road tester

“I specced up an entry-level Evoque coupe and it wasn’t as expensive as I imagined it could be. I’ll visit my dealer to see how they look in the flesh, then I might be tempted.”tr_4_triumph, via www.autoexpress.co.uk

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