The new Land Rover Range Rover Evoque (Test Drive) review

Land Rover Range Rover Evoque 2.2 SD4 190 Prestige 4WD Road Test

Test date : 07 July 2011  Price as tested : £38,380 (Rs.332700)

For : Looks true to concept l Good handling compromise l Off-the-scale desirability

Against : Fidgety ride l Lofty purchase price l Unremarkable fuel economy


Seems so obvious now: make a car that has all the desirability of a Range Rover, with a beautiful interior and styling turned up to 11, yet at a more affordable price. It wasn’t so clear-cut at the start, though (see ‘History’, right).

Still, now that it has arrived, it all makes sense. The Evoque – offered in five-door form or, as tested here, a three-door whose looks befit its Coupé tag – is an SUV right at the premium end of the compact 4x4 market. It is powered by turbocharged four-cylinder engines and, at the bottom of the range, runs with a price of just under £30k. The meat of it will be closer to £40k, like our diesel test car, which is £39,990 before options. That buys a Prestige Coupé with a 187bhp 2.2 turbodiesel, mated to an auto gearbox driving all four wheels.

Front drive is an option. So, too, are manual gearboxes, a petrol engine, one trim level lower and one higher than our test car, and a host of other trim, styling and refinement features aching to take an Evoque towards £50k. To find out if it is worth that – or any – kind of money is our purpose today.


A car’s styling does not usually merit more than a few cursory mentions in our road test, but the Evoque demands an exception. Supercars aside, only Citroën’s DS3 and some retro hatches draw so heavily on their design as a selling point. The LRX was a design study; the Evoque is, as much as possible, the LRX in production form.

Land Rover is coy about having the two cars – concept and reality – photographed together, lest the production version look limp by comparison. Little chance of that, we’d have thought. To our eyes – and those of nearly everyone who encountered it during its stay with us – the Evoque is a brilliantly successful interpretation of how relevant, approachable and striking a contemporary 4x4 can look.

Beneath the revolutionary skin, the Evoque is a rather more evolutionary tale. Because it rolls down the same Merseyside production line as the Freelander, the two cars’ architectures are inextricably linked. The Evoque’s engineering is its own, true, but without the Freelander links, which extend to about 30 per cent of the architecture, there’d be no Evoque.

As with the Freelander, the Evoque is suspended at the front by MacPherson struts, with a multi-link variant (a strut, but with additional lateral and longitudinal control links) at the rear. The Evoque is up to 100kg lighter than the Freelander, though, partly because it is much shorter (at 4355mm it’s shorter than a Volkswagen Golf) and partly because of more extensive use of aluminium, both in its body panels and suspension, and plastics in the body.

That’s part of a drive for greater efficiency, as is the Evoque’s electric power steering system, which is fixed to the front subframe, rather than the chassis, to improve steering feel.

The result of the efficiencies is a CO2 emissions level of 169g/km for our test car, even though it has full-time four-wheel drive, utilising a Haldex rear differential. The 2.2-litre diesel is the same as in the Freelander, and a raft of Ford, Peugeot and Citroën models, and in this 187bhp output it’s 4WD only. It’s also offered with 148bhp and front-wheel drive. Thus specified, it will emit as little as 129g/km.

The other available engine is a 237bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol, mated to 4WD and an automatic gearbox only.

On the road

Thumb the starter to fire the Evoque’s 2.2-litre diesel and chances are that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the relative absence of clatter at idle. Certainly, for initial refinement, it feels to us on a par with this engine’s application in Jaguar’s XF or, in fact, anywhere else that derivatives of this unit have been used to date.

The Evoque features Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, which affects not only how the hardware and stability software reacts to different road surfaces, but also how much throttle you need to make progress. Left in either ‘no program selected’ or Dynamic, both intended for road driving, the response is clean and smooth. There’s a little creep from rest, step-off is clean and the six-speed auto feels like it begins to lock up early to give positive shifts.

Smooth progress is easy to make, with the ’box shifting mostly intelligently. It returns its best economy in its Drive programme, so sometimes it is a little flustered if you ask for slightly more power than it was expecting, making for a reluctant downchange. Select Sport and things improve, but if, say, you’re cruising between roundabouts but want a kick in the back on the way out, neither is quite the ideal compromise. There are shift paddles on the steering wheel if you want to make the decision yourself – something we found ourselves doing a touch more often than we’d expected.

At 1815kg, as tested, the Evoque’s 187bhp is on the modest side. At our test track, that power and 310lb ft of torque propelled the Evoque to 60mph in 8.5sec and dispatched 30-70mph in 9.5sec. The claimed maximum is 121mph. These are not poor figures and people do not usually come to SUVs expecting to find they go fast. Most Evoque buyers, however, will not have come to an SUV before and might be a mite surprised by how moderately their £45k performs compared with the estate or coupé they had before it.

There was a very tough compromise to be made here. Any Range Rover is, after all, a Land Rover vehicle and so it must be capable of reaching places that are damned difficult to drive to. Yet it is also the smallest, most efficient and road-focused Range Rover yet and will be bought mostly by people whose idea of a green lane is a leafy side street. In the end, this car is for them, and Land Rover admits that the Evoque will not quite go as far off road as others in the line-up, albeit still further than any rival.

A sell-out? Not at all. A car must be fit for its purpose and the Evoque retains an extremely broad set of parameters; it’s just that the width has shifted at both ends. Nonetheless, compromises are still evident. Our car came on the standard 19in wheels for this trim and 255/55 R19 tyres. That’s quite a deep sidewall, but still not quite enough to shrug off the worst of town lumps and bumps. The Evoque is far from an uncomfortable urban car, but if you expect the kind of ride isolation you’ll find in one of its bigger brethren, you’ll be searching a long while.

The Evoque is coil sprung, with magnetorheological dampers (a £1150 option) that, in their Normal mode, are set up to retain good body control in what is still a relatively tall car. That they can adapt, to stiffen and reduce the body’s movement compared with the wheel travel, is what helps keep the body tied down on poorer surfaces or at higher speeds, and this is where the Evoque shows its better side. It outrides a BMW X model, yet finds equivalence in body control and should go further in the rough. Tie the body down further by selecting the dampers’ Dynamic mode and the Evoque is even better on a spirited hack, at the inevitable expense of more nobbliness over poor road finishes, so most owners will leave it alone except on smooth, winding roads.

The Evoque’s steering is – only occasionally – slightly less convincing. For the most part, the new electrically assisted system has all the smoothness, linearity and consistency that we’ve come to expect from a Jaguar or Land Rover. At 2.4 turns lock to lock, it’s quicker than that of other Range Rovers, and pleasingly so. But there’s an occasional stiction around the straight-ahead and a slight inconsistency in weight at manoeuvring speeds. It’s still one of the stand-out systems in the class, but a touch less polished than some of its JLR siblings.



The Evoque brings new dynamism and sparkle to the marque inside. The dials add new bling to the dashboard, and the centre console – throughout Land Rover history as upright as the car’s nose – rakes steeply down towards the transmission tunnel.

There rests the rotary gearlever dial, born in a Jaguar but fast becoming a feature of all automatic Jaguar Land Rover cars, and surrounded by more neatly designed, smaller switchgear than in previous Range Rovers. Land Rover has trodden a careful path with the Evoque’s cabin. It would have been easy to over-glamorise it, but instead it just errs towards the classy, without being overly bejewelled (except perhaps in the dials department).

Perceived quality is broadly very commendable. You will find no better plastics, leathers or textures at this price and it’s worth noting that, although our test care wore £6675 worth of options, panoramic roof aside, none of them affects the materials you’ll see in these pictures.

In Prestige trim, those surfaces extend to leather seats, whose shape looks more appealing than it feels to sit in during spirited driving, where several of our testers felt them too flat. They’re a compromise somewhere between the upright ‘command’ driving position of which Land Rover is proud (and which this car’s short length dictates if decent rear legroom is to be maintained), and the conventional low-car driving position most Evoque buyers will be more familiar with. A widely adjustable steering wheel means most will be able to find a comfortable driving position, but it took some of our testers a touch longer than usual to do so.

The rear cabin is respectable for adults, even in this three-door variant, but it does put headroom at a much greater premium. With a high floor, a low roof and a stubby rear overhang, you’d expect the boot to be small, but it’s respectable, at 550 litres. However, it dispenses, unforgivably for an SUV, with a spare wheel. Throw the rear seats forward and you create 1350 litres of volume. Meanwhile, Land Rover has, perhaps more astutely, taken care to ensure the Evoque can take a set of golf clubs “without long clubs having to be removed from the bag”.

It is best if you look away from mere statistics here. The best part of £40k – the other side of £40k even if you don’t get too busy with options – is a great deal of money to spend on a car that is no bigger and no more powerful than a Ford Focus at half its price.

And even when you cast statistics aside and get down to the objectivity of driving? The Evoque still seems like an expensive car. Yes, it is well finished; yes, it is very refined; yes, it comes amply equipped and, yes, it has a breadth of ability few other cars have. But you’re paying not just for the tangible things, but also for intangible things like how it will make you feel.

That leaves the Evoque with few direct rivals. Anyone with this sort of money to spend is as likely to have a BMW 5-series wagon or Audi A5 coupé as they are a BMW X3, or they’ll be holding out for an Audi Q3. From that standpoint alone, while the Evoque’s touring economy of 35.8mpg is poor for a 2.2-litre diesel, it is not bad by the standards of most £40,000 cars.

The Evoque is predicted to hold it value well, particularly in the first phase of its life, where demand outstrips supply. But despite the inevitability of demand and supply, it’s hard to feel totally comfortable about the nagging suspicion that Range Rover is asking so much for the Evoque simply because people are prepared to pay it.


4 out of 5

The Evoque feels not unlike Land Rover’s Freelander in a way. Not in the way it drives, looks or feels, you understand, but in the impression it leaves on you.

A few of our testers came away feeling merely satisfied with the Evoque — neither disappointed nor blown away. Yet the same was true with the Freelander, and its true appeal and enduring qualities only really told later; it was a four-star car when we tested it, and its rating hasn’t diminished at all with time.

Similar longevity will be the making of the Evoque. Several of our testers fell for it completely; its showroom and visual appeal is second to none and its dynamics are able enough to make it the premium compact SUV of choice. But, especially at this price, the Evoque will have to prove it is more than a firework car (whiz, bang, fizzle) to become a stand-out car in its class for years. Our bet is that it will. Still to come in India


 that's it for now.............Drive safe make sure you wear your seat belts and please do not use high beams...........


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