Range Rover Evoque (2012) long-term test review

By the CAR road test team

Long Term Tests

26 April 2013 09:30

Month 10 running a Range Rover Evaoue: thoughts on the Evoque's cabin

What’s the inside story on the Evoque? Plump for the coupe, and you pay £1000 more than for the five-door and get two fewer doors. If you need frequent access to the rear, the glacial motorised slide of the front seats could drive you potty, and squeezing through the V-shaped aperture is only for the narrow and agile.

But once you’re there, you’ll find this coupe is a legitimate five-seater: my brother and sister-in-law recently stomached a three-hour trip from Heathrow to Cheltenham without any grumbling. About rear seat space, that is, not the interior/exterior colour clash: Verena runs designer childrenswear firm Amore di Mamma and she objects strongly to my kaleidoscopic taste. If Land Rover offered a blue interior, I’d have taken it. But I maintain the vibrant pimento red and ebony scheme is preferable to the other options: Germanic black, Essex white or Norfolk grey.

Anyway, every rear passenger has appreciated the glass roof as compensation for the narrow sideglass, so that’s £1290 well spent. As is the £995 Meridian sound system. It has the same effect as getting your ears syringed: everything sounds loud, rich and bassy. We’ve barely used the front screen’s £600 dual-view capability, where the passenger can watch a movie while the driver sees only in-car info. My missus prefers the far cheaper option of watching the inside of her eyelids, however.

By Phil McNamara


Month 9 running a Range Rover Evoque: the Evoque heads in for its first service

'Service required’. Two words that, in the desirability stakes, could be twinned with ‘dental check-up’ or ‘tax return’. Especially when those two words are presented in the Evoque’s central instrument binnacle, whose characters could be twinned with a ZX Spectrum circa 1984. The Evoque’s exterior design is a triumph, its cockpit wraps eye-catching shapes in cool materials, but that iPhone-sized screen is a creative wasteland. Especially when Audi beautifully presents detailed info like navigation directions or iPod track listings in such a spot. But I digress.

The Evoque’s first service interval is after 12 months or 16,000 miles, and it’s taken CAR nine months to trigger those portentous words. I clocked them at the ‘500 miles to go’ warning and called Marshall Land Rover Peterborough. Friendly operative James booked OY12 OTE in for the following week.

Talking of dental check-ups, a car’s first service is similar: there’s a visual inspection, fluids are sloshed about and hopefully you drive away with everything sparkling clean and tickety-boo. The Land Rover first service schedule includes a condition check of suspension, brakes, tyres and exhaust. The pollen filter and engine oil get replaced, the diesel sediment drained and the brake/clutch/screen reservoirs topped up. The cost? £342.

Marshall Land Rover racked up credit for driving me to work after I dropped off the car and by giving the Evoque a thorough valet. On the debit side, they forgot to reset the service indicator, so I’m going to have to traipse back to Peterborough to get it sorted. When I told the telesales executive who gave me a follow-up call, she promised to get Marshalls’ service team to book it in. I’m still waiting for the call.

By Phil McNamara


Month 8  running a Range Rover Evoque: our Range Rover Evoque gets 'papped' by a car spy!

Imagine our surprise when the phone rang: it was one of CAR's spy photographers reporting for duty from Gaydon. It was the long lens which has caught many a Jag or Aston on test over the years, with more scoops to his name than Mr Whippy. Only this time it was a rather unusual prize.

Today his telephoto lens fell on a Range Rover Evoque. A blue one with black roof. And red leather interior. Yes - he'd papped our very own long-term test Evoque by mistake. Editor Phil McNamara was visiting Gaydon to interview Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez and was photographed by our man. Cue much merriment in the CAR office. And we wish our snapper luck trying to flog those shots on the open market... 

By Tim Pollard


Month 6 running a Range Rover Evoque: The Evoque's family car credentials

I’m a fan of both Range Rover and Land Rover, but that doesn’t make me biased here. The Evoque is a radical departure car – it’s that moment when your favourite band changes musical direction; you want to like it, but…

So, for my annual road trip to the south of France I borrowed editor Phil’s Evoque 2.2 SD4. I was itching to get behind the wheel and find out whether this compact coupe could cut it as a family car – carrying four adults on the way down and two of us (plus one screaming kid) on the way back.
We got up at sparrows to pack the car, and within minutes the boot was completely full. Didn’t bode well. But once on the move we settled into a comfortable ride, and even the ladies in the back had nothing but praise for the amount of space (typical comment: ‘the top of the rear window ledge is at the perfect height to rest your head’). I’m sure that’s just what the interior designer was aiming for.

It wasn’t until we hit Paris that the small back window and sloping rear roofline became an issue. You still feel high up but the visibility on these tight streets isn’t great, and about half way through the city I switched off the sat-nav to stop it taking me on any more bizarre longer routes. Either I set it up wrong or it’s rubbish, but we eventually arrived at our destination. Test one: passed.
Test two was a mad dash across the twisty countryside to drop our friends off at the airport. I flicked the Evoque into Dynamic mode and it instantly became a hot hatch; great fun, with only the sluggish engine holding it back. Test two: passed.

Test three was living with the Evoque and a family. It quickly became apparent that the three-door format is a major drawback with kids. Our Recaro baby seat just about fits through the gap between the tilted front seat and the B-pillar, but I’d get a five-door every time. Test three: average.

Test four was all about fuel consumption; would the Evoque be economical? I tried hard to conserve fuel on the autoroute but I still couldn’t beat Phil’s 34+mpg average.
At the end of the day the Evoque leaves me with my love of JLR still intact. Like all great concept albums it gets better with each play, but also leaves you wondering what’s next.

By Andy Franklin


Month 5 running a Range Rover Evoque: Taking the Evoque to Goodwood

A chance to take editor McNamara's baby Range Rover Evoque down to the Goodwood Festival of Speed at the weekend. I can confirm that I'd rather have the five-door for family duties, but the children clambered in the back easily enough and were comfy once in. It's surprisingly roomy in the back. The boot's a good size too, swallowing all the clobber of an overnight stay for four.

There's something pleasingly right about the Evoque. Our 2.2 D is well judged with enough performance and refinement for long motorway slobs and the auto 'box shuffles cogs imperceptibly.

I just wish our car rode 15% better - those attractive 19in rims jar on expansion joints.

I'd hardly call it off-roading, but the damp Sussex conditions gave a muddy trail or two across campsites and car parks; not enough to risk 2wd fodder getting stuck but it reassured the wife that our Freelander based hardware would not be leaving us stranded in Lord March's 37th eastern pasture.

It was my longest journey yet in the Evoque and I came away impressed.

By Tim Pollard


Month 2 running a Range Rover Evoque: musings on the Evoque’s chassis on a London dash

I turned yesterday’s 75-minute commute into a three-and-a-half hour odyssey, by taking the Evoque into London on a CAR-related errand. Our mission was to drop off numerous back issues at a photographer’s studio, standing in the shadows of Arsenal’s Emirates stadium.

The capital is the fashionable Evoque’s ‘natural habitat’, scornful cynics will cry. Obviously, that’s why Land Rover created it, to lure in new customers. And having threaded numerous leviathan 4x4s through London, the Evoque’s compact footprint is a blessing. I slid through a narrow gap to catch a green light that proved beyond the lumbering XC90 beside me, found parking painless, and made mincemeat of a three-point turn under rush-hour pressure.

This four-wheel drive Evoque handles tidily for an SUV. I’m a bit Goldilocks when it comes to steering set-up: I don’t wish to prove my manhood with a Hercules-heavy rack, nor can I abide light and flighty. The Evoque is a very nice compromise between the two: the wheel feels satisfyingly substantial to turn, and responsive and linear as you add lock. Pitch the car into a corner and OY12 OTE clings doggedly to its line. It reminds you of a sweetly set-up hatchback: the body rolls pliantly, the front-end grips steadfastly, you can precisely adjust your line with little steering inputs.

Such composure and precision is beyond the Evoque’s Freelander cousin. Saying the two cars share a platform is a bit like comparing an early click wheel iPod with an iPad 3. Only one structural part – a section of the floorpan beneath the rear seats – is common to both. The Freelander’s EU-CD platform was the engineering team’s starting point, but according to programme manager Paul Cleaver, they swiftly realised it was too tall and the bonnet too high to accommodate the LRX show car’s very different proportions. They needed greater flexibility to mate the sleeker outline to a sufficiently spacious cabin, and to deliver a trademark Land Rover command driving position.

Stripping out weight (the comparative TD4 4wd Evoque is 115kg lighter than the larger Freelander) to improve efficiency, lowering the centre of gravity to boost agility, new suspension subframes and fuel tank, a re-routed exhaust and a new electronic architecture to support new gadgets meant the workload piled up. ‘Ultimately we had to redesign the architecture, so this is Land Rover’s new mid-sized platform,’ says Cleaver.

Another change is that the Evoque can accommodate 20-inch rims, which CAR specified. And the ride quality is surprisingly good, it really is. If you’re looking for it, you can feel the wheels fidgeting over pitted and pockmarked tarmac sections. But larger bumps, potholes and camber changes are managed really well at motorway speeds: the ride doesn’t feel jarring or crashy. Credit the adaptive dampers, which come as standard on this £39,990 Dynamic model (with the higher output diesel, automatic transmission and four-wheel drivetrain). But more on these dampers in a future blog.

After a satisfyingly swift journey through north London, I reached my rendezvous with photographer Sun Lee. He identified me by clocking the Evoque, and told me last time he was up close with one of these was the actual LRX show car. ‘I’m so pleased it go through to production without being watered down – it’s still a cool car,’ he said. And we know who to thank for that: the Evoque design and engineering team.

By Phil McNamara


Month 1 running a Range Rover Evoque: Welcoming the Range Rover Evoque to CAR's fleet

The Range Rover Evoque is the hottest car on the market right now - and CAR Online will tell you what it's like to own and run, in our long-term test diary over the next six months or so.

The baby Range Rover costs from £27,955 for the entry-level ED2 Pure. Range Rovers are typically four-wheel drive, five-door hatchbacks, though uniquely the Evoque is available with optional front-wheel drive to boost efficiency, and with a three-door 'coupe' bodyshell. CAR has chosen the coupe, which adds about £1000 to the price versus a five-door.

Evoques run four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, and we've gone for the high output 2.2-litre diesel, pumping out 189bhp and returning 44.1mpg, with a 174g/km CO2 rating. The list price is £39,990 for this combination of engine, bodyshell and plush Dynamic trim.

Standard Dynamic equipment includes a sport setting, which uses adaptive damping to stiffen the suspension and unlocks sportier engine and gearbox maps. Other notables include parking sensors front and rear (with a backwards facing camera), automatic xenon headlamps, Bluetooth 'phone compatibility and hard disc drive navigation. You also get perforated leather seats and door inserts in black, white or the natty pimento red and ebony colour scheme we selected.

Deep breath (and deep pockets) because here comes the list of options:

• understated Mauritius blue paint (£550)
• contrasting black roof with an enormous glass panel (£1290)
• vast 20-inch chrome shadow style alloys (£225)
• a surround camera system, which relays the off-road terrain onto the 8-inch high-res screen (£615)
• Park Assist, which sizes up a space then automatically parallel parks the Evoque for you (£460)
• Keyless entry (£500)
• automatic dimming rear-view mirror (£155)
• an upgraded stereo, replacing Dynamic trim's 380 watt Meridian sound system to the 825 watt system with subwoofer and 16 speakers (£995)
• dual-view, which means passengers can watch a DVD on the central screen, while the driver's viewing is restricted to the nav map for safety reasons (£600)
• ill-fitting, untethered rear mats (£80)

Our total options bill comes to £5470, which is a few hundred quid more than the average spent by Evoque customers. Total price is £45,460.

As we rack up the miles, we'll give you our verdict on which of these options are money well-spent, and which were as good value as a gated village full of Premiership footballers. We'll also inform you how the Evoque drives, whether it's reliable, how capable it is off-road on its supersized shoes, and how close we get to the official mpg figure. So stay posted to CAR Online - next update in a couple of weeks.

By Phil McNamara