We try out the king of the compact-SUV class with the latest 9-Speed ZF Auto
The Evoque is a bit of an opinion divider. Some people love it’s looks and presence but some say it doesn’t deserve to wear the fabled Range Rover badge. Either way you can’t deny how important it has been for Land Rover since its launch in 2011. This became even more apparent when I was driving this Evoque around for a week, they are just everywhere!
I’ll try to sideline the debate of whether the Evoque is a true Range Rover because as far as I am concerned it is irrelevant. Range Rover is now a global brand and like Discovery will soon be, it represents a group of vehicles, not just one. In my eyes the Range Rover group of cars should represent the most luxurious options in the Land Rover range. To that end the Evoque is a clear success. Inside you are greated by an luxurious interior bursting with technology and comfort.
Comfort & Technology
For a child-like mind like mine, the laundry list of toys on the Evoque is superb. I can’t possibly talk about all of them so I’ll have to highlight the ones than I enjoyed using the most. My favourite is possibly one of the simplest and one that is becoming common on lesser brands now. It is the powered tailgate. The ability to remotely open the large tailgate and then close it at the touch of a button is one of those toys that you can easily use everyday and it does make life easier. It looks quite swish too.
At night one of the most impressive things about the Evoque were the automatic headlights. Not only would they come on once the available light dropped below a certain amount but they would also automatically give me full beam when there wasn’t any street lighting around. If another car was coming in the opposite direction it would also automatically dip the beam. This may not be incredibly new technology but it is impressive when it just works.
The option of heating your behind or cool air wafting over your nether regions just adds to the luxury.
Most of the technology is there to make your life easier and safer but some is there just for fun. The Meridian sound system with built in digital TV tuner is purely there to keep you entertained. I often found myself watching re-runs of Top Gear on Dave whilst waiting for my girlfriend to finish work. It was an odd experience to be honest but very handy for killing time. Once on move though you can’t continue watching so music has to fill that void. The Meridian system fitted to our test car was superb. Loud when you want it to be but the quality was better than my rather expensive set-up at home.
Comfort-wise the Evoque ticks many boxes but I can’t help feeling like the seats were made less for myself and more for some of our wider state-side counterparts. They are rather large. That being said, they are more than comfortable for even the longest of journeys. The option of heating your behind or cool air wafting over your nether regions just adds to the luxury. With the right options ticked, this little Evoque does feel very much like a Range Rover.
The Driving Experience
The Evoque with the Si4 engine is and odd combo. The car is fairly rapid for its size but the handling doesn’t seem to match up with the poke. Thats no bad thing though, you shouldn’t buy a car like this to throw it around the country lanes with careless abandon. It just seems the engine can be a little too angry given the luxurious nature of the car. I think the more frugal diesel option may be the better pairing. That being said the smallest Range Rover does have a bit of a hot hatch feel about it. Treated in the right way it can be a giggle.
It’s shrunken Chelsea looks cover a real-life mud plugger.
Once I’d retired my lead right foot, the Evoque settled down into a smooth and refined cruiser. The 9-Speed ZF box changes smoothly and quickly which makes for swift and comfortable progress. The Evoque feels right at home, in town, in the country and on the motorway. This broad range of abilities makes it obvious to me why the Evoque sells so well. Well that and the social standing that comes with owning a Range Rover.
Now at this point of the review I’ve almost forgotten that the Evoque is an actual off-roader. It’s shrunken Chelsea looks cover a real-life mud plugger. The large wheels and road tyres may not be perfect for the role of dirty weekend play thing but Land Rover don’t make anything that won’t happily go off-piste. Unfortunately I didn’t get to try out this part of the Evoque’s repertoire but a quick play on YouTube reveals a few examples of what the car is capable of.
There is no denying how important the Evoque is to Land Rover. It sells by the bucket load and I can see why. It looks like nothing else in the segment and with the right boxes ticked is just as luxurious as a Range Rover should be. Our test car was not totally to my taste. The black on black on black colour scheme is a little too much. A nice contrast body to go with the back wheels and trim would probably be more up my street but then thats just my opinion.
The Evoque is an easy car to live with, drive and use daily. The Si4 engine is quick, if not a little thirsty. The ride is smooth and the interior is a very nice place to spend time. That makes it a real Range Rover in my eyes, just one that has shrunken in the wash.
It looks like nothing else in the segment and with the right boxes ticked is just as luxurious as a Range Rover should be.
Ultimately though my opinion is largely moot. The people who will buy this car already know that they want one. If you drive an Evoque, you raise yourself above all the other premium compact SUVs available (Porsche Macan probably not withstanding) and this is evident from the way people look at it as you drive past. Everyone I showed the car to wanted a go in it and wanted to be seen in it. That is the power Land Rover now have and I tip my hat to them for this achievement. If I was buying one though I’d spec it with a diesel engine, smaller wheels and a less gangster paint scheme.
Specs as Tested
Santorini Black with a Panoramic Roof, Ebony Premium Leather Seats, Ebony interior with Gloss Black Strata Brushed Aluminium Veneer. 20” Gloss Black Forged Alloy wheels
Engine: Si4 2 litre ZF 9HP petrol engine with 9-speed transmission – 240ps
Transmission: Automatic – with Intelligent Stop / Start Technology
Fuel consumption: Urban – 27.4 mpg – 10.3l/100km. Extra urban – 44.1 mpg – 6.4l/100km. Combined – 36.2 mpg – 7.8 l/100km
CO² Emissions: 181 g/km
Optional Extras Fitted:
Adaptive Xenon Headlamps – £305
Heated Steering Wheel – £180
Rear Seat Entertainment – £2,295
Privacy Glass – £350
Intelligent Pack – £700 – Water wade sensing, Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition,Headlamps – Automatic High Beam Assist
Lux Pack – £4,650 – Powered tailgate, Fixed Panoramic roof, 825w Meridian sound system, Duel view touch screen, Digital television, Surround camera system with tow assist, Blind spot monitor, Keyless entry, Parallel park, Climate control
Black Pack – £1,900
On the road price: £46,650 inc vat, exc. above options