Range Rover's Evoque has demolished all sales records for SUVs in this class. Andy Enright reports on how the latest version aims to stay in the top spot.
Ten Second Review
How do you right a best seller? That was Land Rover's problem when it came to improving its runaway success story, the Range Rover Evoque, a car that now accounts for a third of the brand's total sales. It's a fashionable, yet capable proposition that has fundamentally changed the premium compact SUV market and one that looks particularly stylish in this three-door Coupe form.
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, originally only offered with three doors, 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 Coupe.
As it always has, this car sets out to meet a daunting set of challenges, aiming to provide luxurious room for four in a shape shorter than a Ford Focus. Along with handling as satisfying as a sports coupe. And economy that might allow green-minded versions to rival the returns of a citycar. All to be delivered with class-leading off road expertise. In a car right for its times. Quite a build-up. Quite a car? Let's find out.
First impressions are good. 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 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 offers it in 150PS guise in the eD4 two wheel drive entry-level models - or in 180PS form in TD4 derivatives. The TD4s come complete with a 'Standard Driveline' permanent 4WD system, but buyers are 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's 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. No, the handling 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.
Design and Build
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 three-door version we're looking at here.
As for the inside of the Evoque, well if your experience of this car is limited to an earlier model, you'll find the cabin of the current car to be of significantly higher quality. Revised interior door casings feature re-profiled armrests. And the instrument binnacle you view through the three-spoke leather-trimmed multi-function steering wheel has been re-designed with clearer dials. The key cabin feature though, lies in the centre of the dash. At last, Land Rover has 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 in this Coupe variant 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. There's a 550-litre boot too.
Market and Model
Though in theory, it's possible to buy yourself an Evoque Coupe for not much more than around £35,000, in practice, hardly anyone ever will. Purchase of a car like this one isn't, after all, something you usually commit to with an eye on the bottom line. No, this is the kind of model you buy to reward yourself and as such, you'll probably want this Range Rover to be bespoke, which of course will entail a possibly expensive foray into the options list, once you've made your choice from trim levels which could see you paying up to around £50,000.Work around a £38,000 to £40,000 budget and you'll probably get most of what you'd ideally want.
On to the range detail. With the Coupe bodystyle, pricing is virtually the same as that of the five-door variant and the line-up starts with the most efficient 2WD eD4 'E-Capability' models, which get a 150PS version of the Ingenium 2.0-litre diesel engine freshly developed for this revised Evoque. Most buyers though, will probably want to find the £2,600 model-for-model premium that gets you the TD4 version of this car, the extra cash delivering not only the permanent 4WD system you'd expect a Land Rover to have but also a lustier 180PS version of the Ingenium diesel.
Cost of Ownership
One of the biggest drivers for this Evoque's development is to improve efficiency. The all-aluminium diesel engine delivers fuel economy of up to 68mpg and low carbon dioxide emissions from just 109g/km in front-wheel drive guise. Even if you choose the more powerful 180PS unit, it'll still manage 59 miles from a gallon of derv with CO2 emissions from 125g/km. The 150PS entry-level diesel is some 18% more fuel efficient compared to its predecessor. That's a huge advantage. Land Rover has included variable valve timing and a series of low friction technologies. Selective catalytic reduction and low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation system significantly reduce NOx emissions. Even the 240PS petrol engine doesn't do too badly on the juice, returning 36mpg on the combined cycle with emissions of 181g/km. That hasn't changed from the old car though.
The Range Rover Evoque also adopts low CO2 systems such as Electric Power-Assisted Steering and is built to maximise end of life recyclability. With such high demand and a distinctly finite plant capacity at the Halewood factory, residual values have remained very strong. It aces the Audi Q5 on residuals to such an extent that a comparable Audi costs more than 20 per cent more to run over a typical three-year ownership tenure.
In summary then, the Evoque Coupe is now even easier to recommend than it was before. It's the only car in the premium compact SUV segment with a conceivable appeal to lifestyle buyers not necessarily searching for a premium compact SUV - and that says a lot.
If you are in the market for something of this kind, only need three doors, 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.