By Jonathan Crouch
How do you right a best seller? That was Land Rover's problem when in 2015 it came to improving its runaway success story, the Range Rover Evoque, a car that by then accounted for a third of the brand's total sales. It's a fashionable, yet capable proposition that fundamentally changed the premium mid-sized SUV market and when this facelifted version was introduced, rivals had to contend with an evolved design featuring a more efficient range of diesel engines, extra technology and even, uniquely in this sector, the option of a Convertible body style. Does it all add up as a used buy? If you want a fashionable used SUV of this kind, is this the one to beat?
It's getting on for half a century since all-wheel driving was revolutionised by the Range Rover, a car now a class apart in the luxury 4x4 sector. But what would that model look like re-invented in smaller form for very different Millennial times, an age in which fashion and frugality are as important as toughness and traction? Something like this we think, the Range Rover Evoque, the first generation version of which was rejuvenated in much improved form in 2015. It's that facelifted car we look at here as a used buy.
The Evoque's original launch back in 2011 represented a watershed moment for the Land Rover brand every bit as important as the arrival of the original Range Rover in 1970, the Discovery in 1989 and the Freelander in 1997. To survive, the marque knew it had to reach the younger buyers fuelling the spectacular rising sales of Crossovers and small SUVs. That meant the need for a fresh, very different compact model that would reflect a radical change in design, hence the futuristic LRX concept car from which the Evoque was developed, before being launched to a rapturous reception.
By 2015, over 450,000 examples of this model were pounding global roads - but the competition was hotting up. By now, all the prestige brands had piled into this profitable segment and cars like the Lexus NX and the second generation BMW X1 were being targeted directly at Evoque buyers. This baby Range Rover didn't have to be as spacious as contenders like these, given its positioning in Land Rover showrooms alongside the company's practical 7-seat Discovery Sport model. What it did need though, was a more class-competitive diesel engine and that was duly delivered in 2015, with the more efficient Ingenium 2.0-litre TD4 unit plumbed in beneath the bonnet.
And the company went further as part of this facelift package. Having shaken up the style expectations of buyers in this sector with the original version of this car, this MK1 Evoque could, from its mid-life point, offer the world's first SUV Convertible bodystyle, the first such model the brand had ever made. Here though, we're going to focus on the conventional version most used buyers will want. It sold until late 2018, when an all-new MK2 model arrived.
What You Pay
What You Get
Not many cars make it from concept Motorshow prototype to production reality without being significantly watered down - but this was one of them. We first saw what was then called the LRX in 2008 and the Evoque model it then became is as arresting to look at now as it was back then, whether you opt for the Five-Door bodystyle or the Coupe or Convertible three-door versions.. Most Evoque buyers are going to want one of the hard-top variants - probably a Five-Door version, a derivative that in post-2015-era guise got the eye-catching vents in the clamshell bonnet that were previously restricted to the Coupe model.
As for the changes made inside this facelifted Evoque, well basically a lot of little things added up to quite a lot. Revised interior door casings featured re-profiled armrests. And the instrument binnacle you view through the three-spoke leather-trimmed multi-function steering wheel was re-designed with clearer dials. The key cabin feature though, lies in the centre of the dash. At last in 2015, Land Rover delivered a state-of-the-art infotainment screen to its volume buyers. The 8-inch 'InControl Touch' display is clear, easy to navigate around and very informative. In the rear, the shallow side windows create a bit of a 'hemmed-in' feel but overall, the space on offer is surprising when you consider the rakish roofline and the fact that this car is shorter than a Ford Focus. With the composite plastic rear hatch raised, the 575-litre space revealed in the Five-Door model is 114-litres less than you'd get in the boxier Discovery Sport. A glance at rival model stats though, reveals that this still means you get a slightly more spacious boot than you would in obvious rivals, even those in the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 class.
What to Look For
Land Rover products have been featuring much improved build quality in recent years but our owner survey revealed that the brand still has a little way to go to match its German rivals in this regard. We came across several owners who'd had issues. One found the headlamps filling up with water, had continuous coolant loss and found his car continually steaming from its exhaust five minutes or more after being turned off. Some complained about the sat nav (apparently it works better with the 'ProNav' upgrade applied to later cars). There were issues with the radio loosing sound and the digital clock freezing (apparently, this can be fixed with a software update).
Another owner experienced a loose exhaust heat shield, a wire detached from the vanity light and his Evoque had to go through three sets of brake pads to try and stop a brakes squeal. The service light on this particular model came on after 7k miles and it needed an Adblue refill every 5,000 miles, rather than the 16,000 mile interval quoted. The door handle cover comes off if you jet wash it and some owners found that some of the external trim felt loose. The Aluminium centre console is very soft and can be dented by the seatbelt clip as its buckle is down the side. One owner experienced a fuel leak when refuelling that caused smoke from under car and found that vapours shot from the filler neck when refuelling. We also came across problems with DPF filter failures. In short, there are a few rogue examples out there: we'd advise buying from a dealer, insisting on a fully stamped-up service history and choosing carefully. Check for the usual scratched alloys, signs of off roading damaged and child damage in the back.
(based on 2014 Range Rover 3.0 TDV6 - approx excl. VAT) A fuel filter costs in the £27 to £46 bracket and an air filter will cost around £26. An oil filter will be in the £8-£15 bracket. Front brake pads sit in the £33 to £44 bracket for a set, though you could pay up to around £76 to £88 for a pricier brand. For rear brake pads, think £31-£55. Front brake discs are around £102-£155. For rear discs, think £120-£170, though you could pay up to around £120 to £170 for a pricier brand. A timing belt will be around £68-£77.
On the Road
This Evoque may be based on underpinnings borrowed from the old Freelander model, but it feels very different from that car to drive. There's a sportier, more dynamic feel that's helped in this improved post-2015-era design by the lighter weight of the fresh engineware installed beneath the bonnet of diesel variants. The 'Ingenium' 2.0-litre unit in question is Land Rover's own and is far more refined and efficient than the previous Ford-derived 2.2-litre powerplant. The brand offered it in 150PS guise in the eD4 two wheel drive entry-level models - or in 180PS form in TD4 derivatives capable of 59.4mpg on the combined cycle and 125g/km of CO2 in manual guise. The TD4s came complete with a 'Standard Driveline' permanent 4WD system, but original buyers were also offered the option of an 'Active Driveline' set-up. This can intelligently switch between two and four-wheel drive as required and is fitted as standard on the only petrol model in the range, the 240PS Si4 variant. Si4 buyers have to have the clever 9-speed auto gearbox that was available as an option on the TD4 Five-Door and was standard on the TD4 Coupe.
On the move on-tarmac, if you're minded to use all the performance on offer, you'll notice accurate turn-in, aided on 4WD variants by a torque vectoring system that transfers power to the wheel that can most effectively use it. This allows you to better make the most of the consistently-weighted steering and solid body control that's on offer through the turns. No, it isn't quite at the level you'd expect from a conventional sporting hatchback, but the surprise for new Evoque converts will be just how close this Land Rover gets to that standard. Off road, this car beats all its main rivals for mud-plugging prowess. A Terrain Response system allows you to set the car up to traverse different surfaces. Plus original buyers of the 4WD auto version were offered the option of an 'All-Terrain Progress Control' package, this set-up essentially a low speed cruise control system for slow and steady progress over rough terrain.
In summary, in this post-2015-era MK1 guise, the Evoque is even easier to recommend as a used buy than it was in its original form. It's the only car in the premium mid-sized SUV segment from this period with a conceivable appeal to lifestyle buyers not necessarily searching for a premium mid-sized SUV - and that says a lot. If you are in the market for something of this kind, can stretch to the asking price and can afford not to place too much of a premium on practicality, then you won't be disappointed. This is, quite simply, the class of the field.