Range Rover Evoque: Fourth report

Our 2011 Car of the Year has been transferred - but it's still star of our fleet

Football's transfer deadline day is long gone, but one deal has slipped through in the Auto Express office in the last couple of weeks. That saw editor-in-chief Steve Fowler’s Range Rover Evoque – decked out in red and white, in tribute to his beloved Liverpool FC – move over to me, for a fee of a packet of Doritos and a carton of Ribena.

As an Arsenal season ticket holder, the colour scheme suits me perfectly – so what better way to celebrate the Evoque’s move than by taking it to the Gunners’ Emirates Stadium?

The arrival of the Evoque in the Hope household is in direct contrast to Arsenal’s transfer policy, of course. The baby Rangie is still one of the most coveted cars on the road at the moment, an established star that everyone wants to get their hands on.

Its feelgood factor is hard to deny, but you have to be prepared for a lot of attention from other road users – not all of it desirable.

My prime focus, though, is to see how it performs as a family car. Steve found it a bit small for his wife, three kids of 14,12 and 12, and dog, but my wife and I only have a three-year-old, plus a new arrival due any time now, so our need for space is slightly less pressing. I’ll give you my verdict on how it’s faring once my second daughter is born, in the next report.

For the time being, I’m just enjoying the composed drive, flashy styling and array of gadgets and gizmos that make life behind the wheel more pleasurable. On the road, the Evoque is absolute simplicity to drive – the auto box, controlled by the now familiar rotary dial, ensures that. However, if you crave more involvement there are paddles on the steering wheel to change up or down, and I’ve surprised myself by how often I’ve used these.

Performance from the 188bhp diesel can’t be faulted, but it’s the ride that really stands out – the Evoque is very comfortable indeed. Given that our model is wearing 20-inch alloys, the way it copes with speed bumps and potholes in town is truly impressive.

There’s no shortage of gizmos fitted to the Evoque, and every journey seems to uncover a new button to press. My favourites at the moment are the three-stage heated seats – winter is approaching fast – and automatic tailgate. One press of a switch sees it shut itself, although its position at the bottom of the underside of the hatch makes it a bit of a stretch for my wife when it’s fully extended.

The stand-out feature for me, though, is more about style than substance, but is still irresistible. Unlock the Evoque in the dark, and a light beams down from under the wing mirror. Slap bang in the middle of it is a profile image of the car, like some hi-tech Banksy stencil. Pointless? Maybe. But fun all the same.

Downsides? Fuel economy is poor, at 32.5mpg. With a price of £39,995, you’ll need deep pockets to buy and run this car. And it’s not the most spacious in the rear or the boot, although how much of an issue this will be will only become clear with two kids.

For now, though, the Evoque really has scored as it starts life with the Hopes.

Our view

“Our Evoque’s exclusivity is starting to wear off. Huge sales success means that the roads in and around London are awash with baby Range Rovers.”James Disdale, Road test editor

Your view

“Your economy is worse than I get from my 2.1-tonne, 300bhp BMW X5 – and I’m not exactly noted for my light right foot. So forget downsizing, then.”Technomad, via www.autoexpress.co.uk

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