Bold styling and conveniently compact dimensions have made the Range Rover Evoque a runaway success. Land Rover’s factory at Halewood on Merseyside can’t make them fast enough, and has recently moving to three-shift, 24-hour operation in an effort to meet demand.
Meet the Evoque in the metal and it quickly underlines the virtues that have made it so popular. It’s small and neat, the styling a clever blend of toughness and charm with the wheels pushed to the far corners and a dramatic interplay between the falling roofline and rising waist. Car geeks will spot the references to Range Rovers of yore – like the wrap-over ‘clamshell’ bonnet and the dark door pillars that make the roof look like it’s floating – but to most people the Evoque is simply a tough, yet stylish, modern SUV. The good news continues on the inside.
There’s a high-class feeling to the cabin: the materials look and feel good, and there’s an interesting combination of different textures that echoes the premium feel of the bigger Range Rovers. Precision switchgear, shared with Jaguar, helps reinforce the idea that just because the Evoque is small that doesn’t mean it lacks class.
Sit in the back and the compromises inevitable in a car of the Evoque’s size become clear. Surprisingly, there’s plenty of headroom for rear passengers (in spite of that drooping roofline) but unless the front seats are pushed right forward there’s little kneeroom. That limits the rear seats to carrying kids, which is probably what most Evoque buyers would want them for anyway.
The Evoque range starts with the £27,955 eD4 five-door, with a 2.2-litre 150ps diesel with a manual gearbox and front-wheel drive. The TD4 model offers four-wheel drive and a bit more torque for better mid-range pull, and there’s a 190ps SD4 with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions. Top of the range is the auto-only Si4, with a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine developing 240ps, and a base price of £38,995. Three-door models costs around £1000 more.
Our SD4 test car proved to be a good all-rounder with a vocal, but smooth, engine and a reasonable turn of speed. It’s not as tricky to see out of as the slot-like rear and side windows might lead you to believe. Some might not like the odd feel of the electrically-powered steering, but otherwise there are few criticisms. It’s easy to see why the Evoque is proving so popular.