In this modern world where every penny counts, does brand snobbery still exist in the world of cars, especially SUV’s? We say yes especially when it comes to premium brands and certainly when it comes to a Range Rover.
Is the Evoque a clear cut case of style over substance? and more to the point… is this a bad thing?
Time certainly flies doesn’t it? Yes the Evoque is now in its fifth year of production and without any doubt its become the fastest selling Land Rover product… ever. A staggering 500,000 units have been sold since July 2011 and it seems that Jaguar Land Rover can do no wrong. In the first 6 months of production alone Land Rover delivered almost 23,000 examples and by the end of 2012 this figure had leapt to a figure nudging 110,000. These kind of numbers would be good for a mainstream volume car but for this to relate to a premium brand is nothing short of incredible. So how come?
Quite simply for two simple reasons. Firstly it has the brand credibility of being badged a Range Rover and secondly… it looks so damn good. Looks are indeed a personal and opinionated topic but we think it looks pretty smart, and for what is in essence a five year old design, it still turns heads and has good form in terms of styling. But in all honesty the Evoque was kind of designed to be just that… a pretty looking lifestyle accessory, but under the skin, its much more than that. The sales figures speak for themselves – a runaway showroom spectacular for sure, but behind the sleek and sharp detailing it also has the minerals when it comes to getting on with the job of being motor car.
We have recently had time to try out yet another recipient of the JLR designed and UK built 2.0 i4D Ingenuim power unit fitted to this latest Range Rover Evoque. The specification on paper at least looks pretty impressive – 180bhp with a useful 450Nm of torque working through a computer controlled ZF 9 speed auto box and a new GKN designed all wheel drive system. On the whole it all works rather well, plenty of punch, not too much racket and happy to trawl through commuterland as it is hammering along the motorway. In fact you soon forget you are driving a four wheel drive SUV as the whole driving experience along with the actual driving position is almost as close to a large family hatchback.
In fact, the actual driving experience is really quite good. For sure it’s not a hot-hatch nor was it designed to be, but give it some stick and you’ll hit a mile a minute in well under 9 seconds and its mid range performance brings a smile to even the most impatient driver. Give a quick tug on the chunky hand stitched leather wheel and the Evoque changes direction without fuss or drama – helped no doubt by the press car sitting on 20″ rubber. As mentioned before you soon forget about the girth and lofty stance of the car, the ride comfort and road holding are both quite superb though the former does err on the side of being firm… but never uncomfortable.
So far as the occupants matter, the car oozes class and quality. The smell inside after being parked for a while on a hot day is a quality nasal treat of carpet and hide. You’ll find a superior audio system (825w) and these latest models also feature a revised info-tainment system with up to the minute font and much quicker responding to the touch screen… notably the sat-nav. We couldn’t fault the front seats either… possibly the best experienced to date but if you are looking at carrying a full complement of passengers regularly… we couldn’t recommend it. Rear legroom is painfully tight and even this five door car finds you huffing and puffing climbing in and out of the back.
There are some other drawbacks too. With the blinds closed on the panoramic roof the interior can be dark and gloomy in fading light which compounds the lack of rear space even more so. We also noted a slight pause between pressing the pedal to enter a roundabout or sneaky gap in busy traffic giving a slightly uncomfortable lag and surge effect… you soon acclimatise to it in all fairness. Ticking some of the option boxes might bring a tear to the eye – a head up display costs £1000 for example while the black pack comprising of smoked satin alloys and other gloss black garnishing’s adds another £2000.
To conclude… if a little extra space is on your agenda, you may wish to consider a Discover Sport or sell a kidney and use the extra funds to trade up to the equally impressive Range Rover Sport. We would recommend putting the kids on eBay and treating yourself to an Evoque, its really hard to express the sentiments in words but it just makes you feel so special behind the wheel and its the closest you’ll get to driving like a premium hatchback… but with real four wheel drive ability. And for those factors alone it possibly makes the car worth every penny.
AUTOBRITANNIA.NET RATING: 8/10
MODEL TESTED: Evoque HSE Dynamic Lux
PRODUCED BY: Jaguar Land Rover Group Halewood Merseyside
PRICE: £47,800 excluding options
DRIVELINE: 2.0 i4D ingenium turbo diesel Euro6 with 9 speed automatic & 4 wheel drive
POWER: 180bhp with 450Nm of torque
PERFORMANCE: * 0 – 60 in 8.5 seconds with 121 mph max
ECONOMY/ C02: *55.3mpg combined (43.8mpg on test) – 134G/Km
* = Manufacturers or Govt claimed data
WHATS HOT: Style – Comfort – Awesome sound system – Head turning looks – Superb front seats – Vastly improved info-tainment – Great chassis control – Strong brakes – Very refined – Good performance – Looks and feels every inch a premium product – Strong brand image – Surprisingly good off road – Well equipped in HSE spec – Good loadspace area – Makes the driver feel so special.
WHATS NOT: Rear legroom cramped and accessibility into the back tight – Boomy engine when pushed to the limit – Poor over the shoulder visibility – Not cheap – Turning circle can prove to be awkward in narrow spaces – No grab handles for front or rear occupants.
For more info on the Range Rover Evoque CLICK HERE