The Range Rover Evoque has gone down a storm if the first tranche of drives at the International launch are anything to go by. It’s a genre-busting car, which Land Rover is hoping, will encourage style conscious user-choosers out of their Audi TTs and into something a whole lot more practical. We’ve yet to drive the car, but if the tweets and reviews from the journos driving the car are anything to go by, Land Rover has a substantial hit on its hands.
Here’s the best of the reviews so far.
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.
I’m sold, and if the price is right, so is the car
And that’s where it comes a little unstuck. A bottom-rung front-wheel drive Evoque Pure will set you back £27,955 and comes with leather, but takes a slothful 11.2sec to reach 62mph. A more powerful four-wheel drive Dynamic or Prestige on the other hand, costs £40k. Add parking sensors, a decent hi-fi, the clever dampers and glass sunroof and you’re edging towards £45k – silly money for what is essentially a small diesel hatchback. Okay, so it doesn’t have the badge, but is a Scirocco R really worth £10k less?
The Evoque looks sensational and is genuinely good fun to drive. It’s too expensive, but we can’t imagine that getting in the way of sales success.
Our 237bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol model was fast as well, with strong in-gear punch and a 0-60mph time of just over seven seconds – enough pace to worry a Golf GTI. It proved quiet on the motorway, running at only 2,000rpm at 70mph. The six-speed auto box can hunt a little as it tries to select the right gear – the added torque of the 2.2-litre diesel should be better – but it’s smooth and you can always take over with the steering wheel-mounted paddles. Just don’t expect much more than 25mpg in regular driving – most buyers will be better off with a diesel. The entry-level front-driven 148bhp 2.2-litre oil-burner returns more than 50mpg and emits only 130g/km of CO2. If you want more power, there’s also a 187bhp version.
Niggles? Well, we don’t have many. But with prices kicking off at £27,995, it’s not cheap. Adding the Lux pack and other goodies to our flagship took its price to £45,000. We expect most buyers to spend at least £35,000 on their Evoque. However, this is the coolest, most desirable car of 2011. And every inch a proper Range Rover.
Should I buy one? Yes. If you want the best-looking, trendiest Evoque, the three-door Coupe is definitely the one to go for. The 2.2-litre diesel engine is the optimum choice for most drivers and available in a wider variety of specs than the petrol. However, with practicality in mind, the five-door is likely to be a much better bet even if you use the rear seats only occasionally. You’ll also save some cash in the process. Either way, this version proves that it’s hard to go too wrong if you buy any Evoque.