When a fancy concept car on a motor show stand is turned into something you can actually buy, the end result is generally a little disappointing. However, the Range Rover Evoque is an exception, looking every bit as special as the LRX concept that inspired it.
Even now, with the Evoque a common sight on roads, it hasn’t lost its visual impact. It’s a good deal more interesting looking than key rivals like the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and Mercedes GLA. And yet it’s the most affordable model in the Range Rover line-up.
Here’s a list of pros and cons.
Space in the Range Rover Evoque
Traditionally, the Evoque has been thought of as a rival for larger SUVs like the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, but in actual fact, it’s closer in size to smaller SUVs like the BMW X1 and Audi Q3.
With the latter point in mind, space isn’t too bad – there’s certainly more room than you’ll find in a Mercedes GLA, for example. But if you’re comparing an Evoque to one of the larger SUVs, you’ll probably be disappointed.
And even by the standards of its smaller rivals the Evoque’s boot is small – let alone by those of the larger SUVs it’s up against at the top end of its price range.
At least you get plenty of cubbies in the front of the car for drinks, keys and other paraphernalia.
Comfort in the Range Rover Evoque
Bigger bumps can catch out the Evoque’s suspension, but it’s generally good at isolating you and your passengers from imperfections in the road surface. On the motorway especially, it settles down to a comfortable cruise.
The seats offer good long-distance comfort, too, because they’re supportive and highly adjustable. They also manage to feel inviting and cossetting when you slide into them.
Also impressive on a long trip is the tranquillity within the Evoque’s cabin. Engine noise is but a faint hum, and road noise is well muted, even with the largest wheels. In fact, the only thing that impinges on the solitude is a bit of wind rustle from the door mirrors – though even this isn’t overly intrusive.
Dashboard Styling of the Range Rover Evoque
The stereo and satellite-navigation are controlled through a touchscreen that looks very dated. What’s worse is that the software it controls is sluggish and complicated, and some screens offer you a myriad of buttons and options that can be very confusing.
More positively, the physical buttons and dials that you use to adjust the temperature inside the car are big and clearly labelled. The same goes for the indicator stalks, which have a chunky feel and a solid, clunking action that feels right in a car like this.
For the most part, the dashboard is made of appealing materials, too, with high-quality leather, wood and metal throughout. The only exception is the plastic used to cover the central console, which looks and feels a little low-rent.
Driving Ease of the Range Rover Evoque
The Evoque is much smaller than other Range Rovers, but if anything, you’ll find it trickier to manoeuvre.
While the Range Rover Sport and full-sized Range Rover have big windows and flat bonnets that let you see all four corners of the car from the driver’s seat, the Evoque’s bonnet drops out of sight, and its rear window is so shallow that it feels like you’re trying to reverse the car while peering through a letterbox.
Fortunately, you do get front and rear parking sensors as standard on every model, which helps you to position the car in a parking bay, which helps, but it’s still possible to miss low-lying bollards and high kerbs.
What’s more, neither of the gearbox options available on the Evoque make life easy. The manual is stiff and comes with a heavy clutch, making the automatic the one to have – but even this is jerky and slow to respond, especially if you need to press the accelerator hard.
The Evoque isn’t as sporty or enjoyable to drive as a BMW X1, let alone the four-seat coupes that the three-door model competes with.
Enter a corner at speed and the front tyres start to slide quite early. Then if you attempt to correct things by lifting off the accelerator, the back of the car tries to overtake the front, forcing the standard stability control system to cut in and restore order.
That said, the steering is nicely weighted, which makes it more enjoyable to drive at slower speeds than the Audi Q3. And if you go for the TD4 diesel model you will at least find it easy to keep up with traffic and get past slow-moving vehicles on minor roads.
Reliability of the Range Rover Evoque
The company does provide a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, but this is about the minimum it can get away with these days; it matches Audi, but BMW and Mercedes both offer unlimited-mileage warranties over the same period, while less premium brands such as Kia, Hyundai and Toyota all offer considerably longer warranties.
The most efficient version of the Evoque is the two-wheel-drive eD4 diesel, which returns an official average of just over 65mpg. But even the four-wheel-drive TD4 engine, which is the best driving experience of the lot, is pretty efficient, achieving almost 59mpg on paper.
In the real world, however, a TD4 test car didn’t deliver much more than 42mpg, suggesting most Evoques will struggle even to come close to those figures. What’s more, the 2.0-litre petrol is savagely thirsty, achieving little more than 32mpg on average.
Safety in Range Rover Evoque
Like most modern cars, the Evoque has front, side and window airbags. But there’s also another airbag beneath the steering column to protect the driver’s knees.
Happily, autonomous emergency braking is available on the Evoque. This system detects impending head-on collisions and applies the brakes to mitigate or avoid them, and it’s been proven to reduce the risk of a crash by 38 per cent. It doesn’t come as standard across the range, which is a shame, but it can be added as a relatively inexpensive optional extra on models which don’t come with it fitted.