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First Drive: Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.

First Drive: Range Rover Evoque
The most anticipated car from Land Rover in recent years is about to hit showrooms. Can the Evoque live up to the hype?

   



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| First Drive | Liverpool, England | Range Rover Evoque |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

After in excess of a year's worth of ever-increasing build-up, the Range Rover Evoque is about to hit showrooms. It's about as in-vogue as a car can get at the moment, but it's also under fire with claims that it's more jumped-up Freelander than genuine Rangie. We found out the truth with some on- and off-road driving across Wales and Liverpool.

Key Facts

Pricing: 27,995 - 44,320
Engine: 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel, 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual or six-speed automatic
Body style: three/five-door SUV
Rivals: Audi Q5, BMW X3, Volkswagen Tiguan
CO2 emissions: 174g/km (2.2 SD4 auto)
Combined economy: 43.5mpg
Top speed: 121mph
0-62mph: 8.5 seconds
Power: 187bhp
Torque: 310lb.ft

In the Metal: 5 5 5 5 5

The number of heads that the Evoque turned during our drive is testament to its appeal. It's extremely similar to the 2008 LRX concept - big, pert, sleek and wide, but above all, compact enough to undercut the Range Rover and tick the downsizing box.

Inside, the Evoque is arguably as well built as a conventional Rangie. Thick, soft leather and tough, machined instruments make up the cabin and a chunky, high-set centre console is familiar fare from other Land Rovers. Our only gripe is with the glove box cover, which is low rent compared to the rest of the interior.

Driving it: 4 4 4 4 4

This is another area where the Evoque proves its worth, because it's exceptionally capable both on the black top and off it. The high driving position is reminiscent of other models from the Land Rover stable and makes for a good forward view. Chunky mirrors and a sloping roof hamper visibility from the sides and the rear, though.

There's a fine balance between ride and handling. The Evoque is comfortable but also sharp and engaging - the steering is light but precise and responsive. It still feels like a big car but it's agile and crisp enough to imbue confidence and encourage you to egg it on. Only the firmest setting on the adaptive chassis unsettles the ride, so it's best avoided.

Off-road, the Evoque is damned impressive. It hasn't quite got the all-terrain muscle of a proper Range Rover or a Defender, but isn't far off. We tackled four-foot high water and 45-degree slopes with sufficient ease to put pay to the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3.

Each of the diesel (2.2-litre, 148- and 187bhp) and petrol (2.0-litre 237bhp) units suits the car in its own way. The 148bhp diesel struggles at low and high revs, but it's just as smooth and potent as the 187bhp version mid-range. The petrol is great fun - peaky and urgent - and makes the Evoque good for 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds.

What you get for your Money: 3 3 3 3 3

Evoque prices start at 27,995 for a basic front-wheel drive eD4 150hp manual in Pure spec. Less than 30k for a Range Rover sounds reasonable but you won't be able to buy a two-wheel drive Evoque for a few months yet and you can easily pay close to or more than 40,000 by ticking a few boxes.

Equipment levels are generous, though. You get a leather interior, heated seats, climate and cruise control, Bluetooth and rear parking sensors as standard, so Prestige and Dynamic models are quite luxurious.

Worth Noting

The biggest economy gains come with the eD4 148bhp model in front-wheel drive guise, which offers 57.6mpg and 129g/km. Such figures are remarkable for a 1,625kg SUV and guarantee the entry-level Evoque pride of place on many buyers' lists.

Summary

The Range Rover Evoque truly has lived up to the hype. It's a trendy car but no flash in the pan - the fact that around 20,000 orders have already been placed says it all. It's good to drive, exceptionally well built and genuinely capable off-road. A high price doesn't seem to have put people off, so this time next year they'll be everywhere.


Jack Carfrae - 4 Aug 2011



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2011 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.2011 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.2011 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.2011 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.2011 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.



2011 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.
 

2011 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.
 

2011 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.
 

2011 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.
 

2011 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.
 

2011 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.
 

2011 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.
 

2011 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.
 






 

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