Land Rover Range Rover Evoque 4×4 (2011 – ) expert review

By Andy Goodwin, 20th November 2011

The verdict

The Range Rover Evoque is a brilliantly designed 4x4, which looks more show stand than farm yard. It’s as good to drive as it is to look at, with pin sharp handling.

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Expert rating:

4.0

Pros

  • Stunning design
  • Luxurious interior
  • Sharp handling

Cons

  • Not as quick as some rivals
  • Getting in the back of the Coupe is tricky
  • Limited rear headroom

Full Review

1.  Exterior

Customers love choice, and with the Range Rover Evoque, boy do they get it. First it’s a choice between the rakish three-door ‘coupe’ or the more sensible five-door body. Then it’s time to think about the 12 exterior colours, three roof colours, seven alloy wheel designs and 16 individual interior themes. And that’s before you even arrive at the options list, which tempts you with extra goodies like a panoramic sunroof or chrome roof rails. Luckily, no matter what combination you choose, the Evoque will still be a stunning junior 4×4 because its fundamental design is so excellent. The smallest and lightest Range Rover model in history is also the most fashion conscious, and has had tongues wagging around the world since it was first announced. Like the MINI Hatch and Nissan Juke, it is fast becoming a design icon.

Our rating: 5

2. Interior

Park your shiny new Evoque next to a family hatchback – say a new Ford Focus – and you may be rather alarmed as you step outside, upon realising that the Ford is the longer car of the two. A trick of the eye perhaps? No, a trick of interior design more like. The Evoque feels like a tank to drive, so commanding is its driving position and so small are its windows. This is good, because it feels big, safe and cosseting, but it’s bad for parking in a tight spot – you’ll be relying on parking sensors for that. Victoria Beckham famously had a hand in the interior design, but don’t let that put you off – the leather is amongst the finest of any mass production model and everything feels posh (pun intended). Choose the top media system and your front passenger gets to watch TV or DVDs on the same screen which shows sat-nav from the driver’s seat. You’ll have to ask someone far cleverer than us how this works, but it’s excellent and every manufacturer should have a mad inventor working for them, as Land Rover obviously does.

Our rating: 4

3. Practicality

So, to the million dollar question, do you want a three-door which looks like it has just rolled off the show stand in Geneva, or a five-door with rear seats accessible to non-gymnasts? In our opinion, the latter is the safer bet – and it’s hardly terrible looking. If you plan on using the rear seats reasonably often, the improved access given by those extra doors is essential. The Evoque has a boot measuring 550 to 1,350 litres in the Coupe and 575 to 1,445 litres in the five-door. It’s bigger than the Q3’s 460-litre luggage boot and comparable to the 550-litre BMW X3.

Our rating: 4

4. Ride and handling

The Evoque was designed from the outset to handle well, and it certainly does feel livelier than other small 4×4s. Its steering is satisfyingly quick and precise, allowing drivers to tip it into bends with vigour. The fact that it is Land Rover’s lightest ever model helps enormously. Tick the option marked Adaptive Dynamics and MagneRide dampers are fitted, which constantly (1,000 times per second) adjust to provide optimum comfort one moment, and sharp handling the next. On the black-top the Evoque is more sports saloon than tow car, so it’s perhaps even more exciting to get off road and find the Evoque is worthy of the green and gold Land Rover badge. Switch the Terrain Response selector to one of its more aggressive modes and the Evoque will recalibrate for mud-plugging. Even the fuel-saving front-wheel drive version is more than capable with the correct tyres fitted.

Our rating: 4

5. Performance

There are currently two 2.2-litre diesels called TD4 (148bhp) and SD4 (187bhp) and a 2.0-litre petrol turbo engine with 237bhp called Si4. Both diesels are expected to sell strongly, while the petrol model will remain a niche choice in the UK as fuel prices march upwards. Diesel models are fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox, with the option of an automatic gearbox for the SD4, which is standard fitment in the petrol Si4 model. Expect the diesel to hit 62mph from rest in around ten seconds, while the petrol manages it in a respectable 7.6 – some way off the performance of the BMW X3 35d, which takes a scant 5.8.

Our rating: 3

6. Running costs

A front-wheel drive version is available, keeping emissions down as low as 129g/km and making it attractive for company car drivers. This version makes a lot of sense if you’re unlikely to go off the tarmac as its 56.5mpg claimed economy is also highly appealing. Four-wheel drive TD4 and SD4 models emit 149g/km and average 49.6mpg, while the SD4 automatic emits 174g/km and gets 43.5mpg. The Si4 returns 32.5mpg and emits 199g/km of CO2.

Our rating: 3

7. Reliability

Range Rover models have had their fair share of issues of late, yet customer satisfaction remains very high. Land Rover has carried out extensive development to avoid pitfalls in the Evoque, but it’s still too soon to say if issues will arise. Our test vehicle felt well engineered and built, with no issues during our week of driving.

Our rating: 3

8. Safety

As you’d expect, the Evoque has a full complement of driver and passenger airbags as well as ESP and ABS to help prevent skidding. In Euro NCAP crash tests the Evoque scored the full five-star rating, with 86 per cent for adult occupant protection and 75 per cent for child occupant protection.

Our rating: 4

9. Equipment

Land Rover is selling the Evoque with three ‘design themes’ called Pure, Prestige and Dynamic. As you might have guessed, Pure is most conventional, while Prestige has bigger (19-inch) wheels, leather almost everywhere and a spattering of real wood and metal. Dynamic makes the boldest statement, with 20-inch alloys, unique front and rear bumpers, side sills, tailpipes and an optional contrasting roof colour. The interior is darker, with the occasional splash of bright colour. Optional highlights include sat-nav, blind spot monitoring, Park Assist (which practically parks the car for you), DAB radio and an entertainment system with TV and DVD for front and rear passengers.

Our rating: 5

Why buy?

When the Mk 1 Ford Focus arrived, its exterior design made every other small family car look ten years old. The Range Rover Evoque has done the same thing to the 4×4 market.

Our rating: 5

Expert review 4.0stars

  • Exterior5
  • Interior4
  • Practicality4
  • Ride and handling4
  • Performance3
  • Running costs3
  • Reliability3
  • Safety4
  • Equipment5
  • Why buy?5

Our recommendations

Best on a budget:

Range Rover Evoque eD4 2.2 150 Pure

For company car drivers and eco drivers this Evoque makes most sense.

Best-seller:

Range Rover Evoque five-door SD4 2.2 190 Dynamic

Proof Evoque buyers aren’t skimping on cost – the potent diesel and auto gearbox are a great double act.

Blow the budget:

Range Rover Evoque 2.0 Si4 Dynamic 4WD

The quickest looking and accelerating version of the Evoque is closest to the concept car.

The Evoque was designed from the outset to handle well, and it certainly does feel livelier than other small 4×4s