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Week at the wheel: Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.

Week at the wheel: Range Rover Evoque
The last time you could buy a Range Rover without an automatic gearbox was 2001, but it's a new decade with the introduction of the manual Evoque.

   



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| Week at the Wheel | Range Rover Evoque |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

Time was a manual Range Rover was considered a lesser choice, but this new Evoque actually puts it on a level playing field with the automatic. Buy either and you won't be disappointed, but choose the manual and you're likely to be surprised at just how good it is.

Key Facts

Model tested: Range Rover Evoque Dynamic
Pricing: 37,380 (41,705 as tested)
Engine: 2.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: six-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Body style: five-door SUV
Rivals: Audi Q5, BMW X3, Infiniti EX
CO2 emissions: 149g/km
Combined economy: 49.6mpg
Top speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 10.0 seconds
Power: 190hp at 3,500rpm
Torque: 420Nm at 1,750rpm
Wading depth: 500mm
Off-road approach angle: 25 degrees
Off-road departure angle: 33 degrees

Inside & Out: 5 5 5 5 5

Want to stand out? Well unless you've already ordered your Evoque you're too late - some reports say the waiting list is already over six months. Still, if you have managed to bag one of the early ones, you're likely to be getting used to the stares brought on by driving this year's automotive goldfish bowl. A concept car for the road, there's not much wrong with the Evoque's distinctive looks, save for a complicated and cluttered rear.

The cabin's not quite so radical, but it's no less pleasing. First thing to strike you is its compactness, especially in the black-on-black trim of our test car - though the glass panoramic roof helps here. At least it boasts the same quality of material and switchgear found elsewhere in the Range Rover range, so you'll always feel special, no matter how intimate its dimensions make you with passengers.

Ride & Handling: 5 5 5 5 5

Big wheels and stiff suspension makes the Evoque a less than relaxing car around town, especially if your local roads are as winter-weather-ravaged as ours. It's better at higher speeds (or off-road of course) where the suspension has more time to deal with the lumps and bumps Britain's road network can throw at it.

However, where it really comes into its own is on your favourite back road. Direct and sharp steering is improved, along with the throttle response and damper reactions by selecting Dynamic mode on the centre console. Not only does it make the be-jewelled instruments glow a Victoria Beckham-pleasing shade of red, but it turns the Evoque into a true hot hatch.

There is some body roll, but it's much less of an issue than on other Range Rover products. And crucially this thing grips hard, then grips some more. Get near the limits and it almost feels like it's lifting its inside rear wheel, and there's no doubt this car could and would embarrass a lot of conventional hot hatches on unfamiliar back roads. It's made even sweeter by the knowledge that this is a package that fits in perfectly off-road, on the school run or even parked outside the most posh of hotels.

Engine & Transmission: 5 5 5 5 5

Shouldn't a Range Rover manual transmission have a long, vague and uninspiring shift action? Put your preconceptions to one side and you'll notice the lever in the Evoque feels precise. One thing's for sure - I'd personally choose the manual gearbox with this diesel engine over the automatic unit.

I'm sure the auto is just as capable off road, but there's a strange reassurance, a bond, a sense of personal achievement if you will from selecting the correct ratio for your upcoming ascent yourself. The diesel engine's pretty familiar, but to sum up, it's competently brisk and relatively refined.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: 4 4 4 4 4

It's not cheap, but then the latest fashion items never are. And a fashion item the Evoque is, clamouring to be customised and made truly individual. Take the plunge and tick a few boxes, like Land Rover did with specifying this particular test example, and the price will top 40,000.

Still, at least the manual gearbox improves efficiency, so combined economy is 49.6mpg and CO2 emissions only 149g/km. That means annual road tax is only 130, and thanks to the massive popularity (and coincidentally long waiting list) resale will not be a problem, at least not for the next few years anyway.


Graeme Lambert - 16 Mar 2012



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2012 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.2012 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.2012 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.2012 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.2012 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.



2012 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.
 

2012 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.
 

2012 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.
 

2012 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.
 

2012 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.
 

2012 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.
 

2012 Range Rover Evoque. Image by Land Rover.
 






 

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