The Range Rover Evoque’s success story sounds awfully familiar: a brand focused for most of its life on one niche produces a soft-roader that quickly rockets to the top of the charts and becomes its best-selling model ever.
That all unfolded seven years ago, when Range Rover wowed the premium SUV market with its sleek looking missile that's now due for replacement. However, there have been some handy improvements along the way, most recently the inclusion of a potent new engine. But is it getting beyond its years?
Range Rover’s urbanite SUV is the most city-friendly car it builds. It started life as a five-door wagon, was joined by an even more compact three-door coupe, and can now be had in topless convertible format. For the foreseeable future though only the five-door and convertible remain.
The HSE trim on test is the plushest of three grades - Pure, SE and HSE – and it has a brand-new petrol turbo from Jaguar Land Rover’s Ingenium engine series that makes it the most powerful Evoque yet. Because it’s the most potent petrol available with 213kW and 400Nm, it also gets the Dynamic styling package.
In this top-grade machine are features such as dual-tone perforated Oxford leather with contrasting stitching, electric and heated seats, 10-inch infotainment system, Meridian sound system, heads-up display, 19-inch alloy wheels, night-time puddle lamps that illuminate an Evoque silhouette, dual-zone climate control, Xenon headlights, front and rear parking sensors with reversing camera and automatic wipers.
It’s all strung together in Range Rover’s UK factory and carries a $93,568 plus on-road costs price tag.
- Standard Equipment: Perforated leather trim, dual-zone climate control, rear seat air con vents, electrically adjustable front seats with memory, power folding convertible roof, keyless entry and start, cruise control, auto headlights and wipers, bi-Xenon headlights, heated power-folding exterior mirrors, LED tail lights, aluminium interior highlights, 19-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 10-inch touchscreen, CD/DVD player, AM/FM radio, 2x USB inputs, satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, 11-speaker audio
- Cargo Volume: 575 litres
Getting in and out of the Evoque is easy due to its wide doors and relatively low ride height. The seats aren’t perched too high either so headspace is deceivingly spacious with good shoulder room in an airy cabin. Rear-seat passengers don’t get the same wide foot well as upfront but there’s enough room on the two outer cushions for comfortable touring with adult occupants.
And the quality of the leather and trim used in the HSE are top-notch. The perforated seats provide a pillow of cushion underneath between good, firm bolstering on the sides. The metal panelling on this vehicle’s centre console had a solid character but there are plenty of colour and wood trim options available.
The overall design is ageing in contrast to new arrivals in the premium SUV market but it still holds-up well. Such as the steering wheel, which is well put together but lacks a well thought out feel in the hands, and the infotainment scren that, while large, isn’t as crisp and vibrant as the best units on the market. There's also a lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for added connectivity, though Bluetooth was strong and consistent on an iPhone and the Meridian sound system has a rich sound.
The trick up the Evoque’s sleeve is its boot that beats most rivals with 575 litres of space. And it’s not just the capacity that’s good, it’s the loading length, which swallows large items like a pram or golf bag easily. Fold the 60:40 split seats and you have 1445 litres – though it’d be more if the seats locked flat into the floor rather than humping up.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder Ingenium turbo petrol, 213kW, 400Nm
- Transmission: Nine-speed automatic, multi-mode four wheel drive
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link independent rear
- Brakes: Four-wheel disc brakes, vented front rotors
- Steering: Electrically-assisted power steering, 11.3m turning circle
- Towing Capacity: 1500kg braked, 750kg unbraked
Range Rover has endowed the Evoque with the full gamut of off-road multi-mode terrain settings, suggesting it can tackle a boggy track en route to the Flinders Ranges. While it might make it, 211mm ground clearance isn’t going to let it venture far safely.
Plus, it's built for the ‘burbs, where this HSE 290 – 290hp being 213kW in modern terms, as produced from the engine – is almost overkill. While its claimed 0-100km/h in 6.4 seconds isn’t quite performance car territory it feels plenty quick in a condensed 2.3-tonne SUV.
In fact it’s almost too eager, nipping at the heels to scuttle off before the accelerator is even pressed. But for dispensing traffic off at the lights and overtaking, it’s a scud.
There are also other drive modes to try and calm things and a sport mode that really sharpens up the throttle response.
The ride is comfortable and compliant, floating in softer drive settings to try and hide some of the edginess from the thin 19-inch rubber underneath, though it’s softness leads to some body roll that can’t control physics. In the corners its rides well and is sharp enough to feel quick, but it won’t tuck in with pin-point accuracy and the sort of response found in proper performance SUVs.
However, it’s a comfortable ride and road noise is mostly removed, creating an atmosphere that's befitting of a premium SUV but with hulking power underneath. It's a bit of a brute in a suit.
ANCAP Rating: 4/5 Stars - The Range Rover Evoque scored 32.49 out of 37 possible points when tested in 2011 using data provided by Euro NCAP.
Safety Features: Five airbags (dual front, driver’s knee, front seat side), ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, Electronic stability and traction control, roll-stability control, pop-up roll-over protection, rear-view camera, lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking.
Further safety features including surround-view camera, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, and lane keeping assist with fatigue detection are available as optional extras.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Servicing: Service intervals for Evoque diesel models are every two years/34,000km (whichever occurs first). Land Rover offers pre-paid servicing plans that cover six years/102,000km worth of standard servicing for the Range Rover Evoque diesel, priced at $1210 - service costs may vary for other variants, contact your Land Rover dealer for more information.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The Audi Q5 has been updated and the SQ5 is a sharper car to drive while its aesthetics and finishes are less opulent.
The Jaguar E-Pace is the newest rival that brings a softer design typical of Jaguar but with equally posh interior finishes and the same array of Ingenium engines.
The BMW X4 is set for its big update later this year that will add a potent M40i variant into the mix, but it's not here yet.
- Audi Q5
- Jaguar E-Pace
- BMW X4
- Mercedes-Benz GLC
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Nearing its end, the current generation Evoque is ageing gracefully. Though its design has hardly altered it continues to be popular for good reason.
The fit and finish is at a high standard, the space inside is deceptively large and this new 290 Ingenium engine adds plenty of performance grunt.
Some newer rivals, whether here or coming soon, have better technology and more sophisticated architecture underneath, but for its purpose, the Evoque is still a contender.
- Interested in buying Land Rover Range Rover Evoque? Visit our Land Rover showroom for more information.