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Range Rover Evoque SD4 Prestige

Click to view picture galleryYou might, on your shortlist for an
  all-road capable Sports Utility Vehicle
  with a desirable badge on its nose,
  have all, or some, of the following:
  Audi Q3/Q5, BMW X3/X5, VW Touareg.
  All very commendable. But there
  another, and it wears a badge that,
  for many, trumps any of the Germanic
  trio — Range Rover
s Evoque...

UNLIKE NEARLY EVERY OTHER CAR on the road, you don't even have to drive one of these 'midi' Range Rovers to want one —
if ever a car was likely to 'go platinum' on looks alone, it's the Evoque.

It has the visual pull of a Ferrari, proving that dramatic looks will win out over price every time. The good news is that it costs only a quarter of what the least expensive product from Maranello costs.

Run your eye over the Evoque's arresting and original haute couture cross-coupé styling: the brazenly big 19-inch, 10-double-spoke alloys capped by pouting wheel arches; and the rearward sloping glasshouse 'floating' dramatically above the high flanks like a pillbox commanding vertical cliffs… I don't know about the Devil wearing Prada; but one could definitely imagine him driving a gleaming all-white Evoque. After all, isn't 'envy' one of the major sins?

“I don’t know about the
Devil wearing Prada;
but one could definitely
imagine him driving
a gleaming all-white
Evoque. After all,
‘envy’ one of the
major sins?
The Evoque is an all-new model, from the end of its clamshell nose to the tip of its high-kicking tail. And it comes in two quite different bodystyles: a slinky three-door coupe and, as tested here, an equally dramatic and just as eye-catching five-door. As usual with high fashion, less costs more: five-door versions cost £1,000 less than the three-door coupes.

While this 'want one' Range Rover seriously delivers the 'style' in 'lifestyle', lifestyle is not what the Evoque is all about. Because underpinning the iconic looks is class-leading all-weather, all-surface capability with 4WD, the formidable off-road potential enhanced by Land Rover's legendary Terrain Response system.

The Evoque's four-wheel drive is an innovative full-time intelligent system which continuously varies the front:rear torque split using an electronically-controlled Haldex centre coupling to deliver optimum grip and balance for the current driving conditions.

Climb aboard (it's an easy step-up into the cabin through the good-sized doors) and you'll find yourself in an undeniably sumptuous pad. The first thing you're aware of is that the sloping roof and the tapering side windows are deceptive when seen from outside — inside, cabin headroom is good with not the least sense of having to duck your head.

Those in the front enjoy plenty of head and legroom and the seats are as superbly comfortable and supportive as they look. And they do look pretty fine indeed. The view out is also fine thanks to the commanding driving position. And, in spite of the narrow back screen, visibility rearwards is pretty good.

Not that you need worry when parking because a reversing camera is on hand that makes parking a doddle thanks to camera images with overlaid guidelines that show your projected reversing path, the full width of the vehicle and even a shaded area indicating the space required for accessing the tailgate. Can't be bothered to DIY? Then let the Evoque's auto-park 'assistant' do it for you —
it will park you in a very short space: just 1.2 times the length of the car.

Fit and finish is absolutely first-rate and all the trim materials clearly upscale with well laid-out switchgear, smart instruments and plenty of high-tech 'toys', all tied together by a tasteful, well co-ordinated design theme. The panoramic glass roof is brilliant, made more enjoyable by the one-shot-op sunblind to stop you sizzlin' in the summer.

“Can’t be bothered
to DIY park?
Then let the Evoque’s
auto-park ‘assistant’
do it for you —
it will park you in
a very short space:
just 1.2 times the
length of the car...
Not only that but it's quiet inside the Evoque — the smooth diesel unit is almost a whisper thanks to some highly effective soundproofing and helped by 70mph in top needing just 1,800rpm. And overall refinement is more than good enough for this level and this class.

It may only cost half of what you'd pay for a full-size Rangie but the Evoque's plush cabin (our stunning Fuji White test car came with Ebony Premium soft leather upholstery enhanced by attractive twin-needle stitching, Grey Oak Wood and Brushed Aluminium finishers to the centre console, switchgear, etc) is every bit as appealing and as well-equipped and with as much hi-end kit as its larger Range Rover and Range Rover Sport siblings.

Five-door models have ample space and versatility to serve as family cars (575-litre boot / 1,445-litre loadbay) and the 60:40 split back seats fold virtually flat when you need to haul some cargo. Six-foot adults can be happily accommodated side-by-side in the rear cabin, sharing a well-padded central armrest and with backrests set at a restful angle.

At the heart of the cabin are the shapely, supportive and extremely comfy leather-covered seats, with effective but non-intrusive seat and backrest bolstering. And Range Rover's much-acclaimed 8-inch, high-definition touchscreen: the primary control and display system for a wide range of features via an intuitive menu structure.

Screen graphics give the impression of three-dimensional buttons, beautifully lit with subtle chrome detailing complemented by foolproof hard keys on either side of the display providing convenient shortcuts to the most commonly used screens such as Home, Audio/Video, Nav and Phone.

The display can also be specified with innovative Dual-View technology that enables the front passenger to watch a DVD, catch up on some TV (the digital TV reception and the sound, through the wireless headphones, is first class) or play with the Surround Camera system's five onboard cameras while the driver simultaneously sees car- or navigation-related information or listens to the stereo.

Core vehicle-related information —
such as fuel level and temperature (easy-to-read vertical bar graphs), digital speed, Terrain Response mode, hill descent and cruise control information — is shown on a 5-inch TFT colour display sited between the two main dials.

“Despite crisp
performance from its
190bhp and 309lb ft
of torque (0-62mph
in 10 seconds)
and drive going to all
four wheels,
s no gas-guzzler.
Over our week
s test it
averaged 35.4mpg...
The Surround Camera System uses five digital cameras, discreetly placed around the Evoque to serve up a 360-degree, real-time view of the surrounding area on the touchscreen display.

The driver can 'pick 'n' mix' the camera images (independently or in combination) depending on current driving requirements. For instance, the rear camera can be used to assist with hitching and unhitching trailers; and the multi/combination views are a blessing in dicey off-road situations where it could be dangerous or even impossible to get out and take a look.

An extra £4,425 buys you the Lux pack. Sounds a lot but not when you look at what it gets you: powered tailgate, high-end 825W Meridian 17-speaker system with full surround sound, 8-inch Dual-View touchscreen, analogue/digital TV, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, Surround Camera system with Tow Assist, Blind Spot monitoring, keyless entry, Park Assist system, and advanced climate control with air filtration, air quality sensor and automatic recirculation.

That's on top of an already comprehensive standard kit list that includes leather upholstery, power seats with electric lumbar adjustment and 3-stage heating (they heat up virtually instantly!), climate control, mood lighting, cruise control, auto lights 'n' wipes, electronic park brake (correctly sited next to the selector lever; and it works superbly, as does the hill hold), drive-away auto-locking, powerfold door mirrors (on demand and on locking 'n' leaving), 3-setting driver seat memory, four one-shot up/down electric windows, easy-exit driver's seat (lowers on opening door to exit), push button start, and a full set of airbags including one for the driver's knees, Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist, Terrain Response, and, of course, four-wheel drive.

Luxurious it unquestionably is, but the Evoque can also take the rough with the smooth without flinching. With its permanent all-wheel drive backed up by the All Terrain Response system and Hill Descent Control (keeps your speed safely in check on treacherous downhill slopes), reassuring off-road ability can be taken for granted. And made good use of!

The designer bodywork reflects this: short front and rear overhangs aren't there just to make suitable parking places on mean city streets easier to find; along with generous ground clearance, a 500mm wading depth, 25-degree off-road approach angle and 33-degree departure angle, they're also there for making it easy to clamber over or across whatever obstructions you meet off-road.

“Admittedly few owners
will take their Evoques
into the wild;
a shame almost that
the worst most Evoques
will have to brave
will be the treacherous British weather — but it
will laugh (politely)
in the face of swamped
roads and snowdrifted
Admittedly few owners will be taking them into the wild; a shame almost that the worst most Evoques will have to brave will be the treacherous British weather — but it will laugh (politely) in the face of swamped roads and snowdrifted lanes.

Providing the grunt in our SD4 test car was the four-cylinder 2.2-litre turbodiesel unit in 190bhp guise. There's also a 150bhp version but this near-200bhp unit is the most popular with Evoque customers and comes mated to a six-speed manual 'box — more good news: the gearchange action is smooth and easy.

And despite crisp performance from its 190bhp and 309lb ft of torque (0-62mph in 10 seconds) and drive going to all four wheels, the Evoque's no gas-guzzler. Over our week's test it averaged 35.4mpg.

Drivers with a lighter right foot may get closer to the official 49.6mpg combined cycle figure, but even if they don't, I'd stake my shirt they won't be whingeing and moaning.

Tackling rush-hour traffic and all manner and description of roads, our Evoque never once put a wheel wrong —
it was always thoroughly enjoyable to drive; capable, comfortable and well mannered.

Quick and accurate response to the well-weighted wheel combined with spot-on body control ensures it sticks to your chosen line round quick corners; notably so if you use the Terrain Response's Dynamic mode (which modifies the damper settings to deliver even tighter body control, with flatter handling and sharper responses). At high-speeds, stability is excellent and the Evoque feels rock solid. A fine handling machine, then.

Rolling on 19-inch alloys shod with 235/55 rubber the ride is impressive; over speed humps and potholed urban blacktop it really is amazingly good. Spend another £1,150 for the optional MagneRide system and you can improve it even more. The MagneRide dampers use active dynamics and offer drivers a choice of suspension settings.

The Evoque driving experience is amazingly feel-good —
you just don't want to get out! Everybody who drove it or rode in it agreed that its overall competence, high quality, sumptuous interior, all-terrain technologies and huge wow-factor justify every penny of its not unreasonable price tag. The day it went back we felt as though we'd lost a winning lottery ticket. Very, very few cars can do that. — MotorBar

Range Rover Evoque SD4 Prestige | £38,295
Maximum speed: 124mph | 0-62mph: 10 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 35.4mpg
Power: 190bhp | Torque: 309lb ft | CO2 149g/km