Range Rovers always had from the very first edition a special place in our car loving heart: indeed, the "Range" Rover combines the all terrain 4WD ruggedness with elegance, creature comfort and space. The Range Rover is an imposing car, but always in a very discreet way, just because everything about its dimensions is functional, and never too boisterous or suggesting something the car is not.
This functional and elegant clarity one also finds back in the Evoque we tested, even more so in the two door version, which has indeed a coupé like zest and charm about it.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Indeed, we like the fluent lines and proportions of the Evoque very much, with just the right size of wheels and tyre dimensions to go with it.
The wheel arches are nicely sculpted, the height of the car is ideal, front and rear overhangs warrant excellent all terrain capabilities and are styled again with a masterful hand, just to give also this Evoque its unique and purposeful aura.
The front and rear end styling is well proportioned, last but not least the colour of our test car, a Barolo Black metallic, suited just fine, matching ideally with the interior, laid out in black leather and brushed aluminium panels.
The cabin layout also breathes this typical Range Rover purposefulness with generous, almost majestic roominess. We again admired and liked the large central console, the beautiful big round instruments right in front of you, the leather covering of dashboard top and instrument cluster, with a noble double row of stitches to finish everything off.
This all puts you in the commander's (captain?) seat of a noble, impressive yet very elegant all roader, with its unique panache. The commands are logical, the indications on the large central screen for navigation, phone, infotainment are fully self explaining, so one feels very much at home in this Range Rover Evoque.
In our test car we enjoyed a large glass roof, and this gives the cabin an airiness which enhances the upmarket aura which this Evoque already exudes.
Well balanced power and (off road) handling...
Driving is believing as they say, and indeed, the Evoque shows its real qualities when on the move. The vast experience of the manufacturer in building off-road vehicles with excellent on- and off-road manners truly tells. The Evoque indeed feels ideally at home on any road. It is agile and steers with precision on winding roads, and enjoys excellent straight line stability on motorways. Comfort is excellent, with just that right amount of tautness fit for a dynamic driving style, yet is able to iron out and swallow potholes on any of your chosen roads. This is all thanks to the magnetic ride dampers, which auto adjust in "D" mode...
Setting the Terrain Response dial to Dynamic turns the dials red and tautens steering and suspension a little, and that is just a matter of taste anyway.
The Evoque does not invite you to throw it around hairpins or tight bends, but welcomes a dynamic, swift driving pace over winding roads, and of course hold very well its own when driven up to very high speeds on long Autobahn curves.
On our trip to the Frankfurt Motor Show, we met with torrential rain on some Autobahn stretches, which the Evoque took totally in its stride, and we could continue our journey at a swift pace, when the German lawmakers allowed this of course.
Is the Evoque simply ideal for those long, fast journeys, it is also very well in its element off road. It remains unbelievably stable, and the different electronic driving aid programs make this Evoque your ideal companion when the road gets rough, even when you are a total novice when it comes to off road driving.
Impressive engine and drivetrain...
The power flow of the very smooth 2,2 litre SD4 Diesel engine is nothing but outstanding. Its torque is more than enough to deliver quite vigorous accelerations when one puts its right foot a bit deeper, and indeed all this power sets in right away. The unit develops not less than 420 Nm of torque from 1750 rpm.
In combination with the state of the art 9 speed auto box this makes the Evoque a very lively performer, which develops indeed rather more "oomph" than the bare performance figures suggest. Note that the performance on paper is already impressive: the 187 HP Evoque accelerates from 0 to 100 in merely 8,5 seconds, and top speed is not less than 195 km/h. Even around its top speed, the engine and drivetrain are completely unstressed and the Evoque remains utterly stable.
The surefootedness of its all-wheel drive transmission with torque vectoring control and a comprehensive safety net of electronic control systems add to the peace of mind here.
The Evoque remains reasonably frugal, even when driven with enthusiasm. We had no trouble achieving an average consumption of 7,2 litres/100 km. But when you decide to sink back and relax in the excellent seats, put up the cruise control and enjoy Wagner while driving on the Autobahn around the Loreley valley, as we did on our return trip from Frankfurt, then you get good consumption, which was seen dropping to 6,2 litres /100 km on average...
But admittedly, the new 2 litre Diesel engine will do even better here.
The box changes smoothly under power, and is also outstanding in dense city traffic. It is so clever and alert, that we hardly felt any need to use the "S" sports mode, let alone the paddles on the steering wheel. One can indeed leave the use of these paddles for very special situations like steep driveways, mountain hairpins and the like. So we left it just in "D" most of the time, and it did an excellent job.
The auto box keeps the engine at low revs when cruising or not much power is needed, and was therefore ideally suited to the engine's power characteristics.
The two doors open wide, and the rather big front seat backrests open sufficiently for rear passengers to get in and out. The two door layout is also very useful and safe for children, but space is insufficient if you want to move your baby with its Isofix baby seat in and out of the Evoque...
We liked the generous boot (550 litres) and the automatic opening of the door, so pleasant in everyday use...as we did with the excellent infotainment and audio system. We could regret her that no DAB is installed here for the radio, very common in the UK and getting increasingly used here too.
Sound quality of the Meridian system was excellent, and during our trip we certainly enjoyed the CD player, so we could fully enjoy our jazz CD's, with Dave Brubeck, Stacey Kent and last but not least Philip Catherine with his ode to Cole Porter accompanying us on our Frankfurt trip, besides Wagner's Götterdämmerung, played by the London Philarmonic under the direction of Klaus Tennstedt of course, to acoustically underline the romantic Rhine scenery we crossed. The audio and speaker system handled Wagner's music masterfully.
A car with character and timeless, elegant purposefulness, breathing tradition, combined with dynamic modernity. For all these reasons, it really stands out from the competition. Add to all this the excellent road qualities, and its masterful behavior also off the beaten track, and you will agree with us that the Evoque has hardly an alternative in its segment.
The modern Diesel and transmission with its state of the art technology throws in the performance and frugality we come to expect in its class. For all these reasons, take a long hard look at this Evoque. And drive it. You will be convinced, as we did...
Hans Knol ten Bensel