The blunt nose, muscular stance and rear-sloping roof on Range Rover Evoque show that creating individual style in a small SUV was the brief to attract buyers also seeking kudos from the full-size Range Rover in terms of image, fittings and finish.
So for 2016 models, trim levels match Range Rover Sport, but Evoque is more adventurous in offering five-door, two-door coupe and two door convertible versions, in 2.0L diesel or petrol.
The range kicks off at $51,995 for the five-door eD4 Pure manual, with its 110kW diesel engine and front wheel drive. The Td4 150 4WD version is from $55,495. But it’s the 9spd auto SE from $62,495 that starts to offer what buyers expect in this category.
This is the case with the car we reviewed, the 132kW Td4 180 SE, which from $66,495 gains an active four-wheel driveline, keyless entry, eight-way powered seats and powered tailgate. SE models are also the entry point for the Si4 petrol engine, from $67,605, and from there a quartet of HSE models in petrol and diesel round out the range at up to $80,605.
Coupe and convertible models match the four HSE offerings, with the coupes lining up on price with the five-door while convertibles step up an average $10,000. Ten option packs range from Cold Climate Convenience ($800) to Luxury pack for $9750. Individual items can also add up; our car was loaded with more than $13,000 worth.
With its wide, big-wheel stance, Evoque is listed as a medium SUV, but cabin measurements fall short of the mid-size class, and so while front occupants enjoy good seat shaping with long cushions and side bolstering, plus a wide range of adjustment for taller drivers, there’s a fair amount of compromise to accommodate rear passengers. Drivers will appreciate the classy dash and tidy console presentation that carries an unusual pop-up gear selector. That narrowing rearward glass line also means some lessening of rear vision despite fully recessed headrests.
Rear seating is nicely sculptured for two adults (but has three belt positions) with individual lighting, vents, cup-holders and seatback pockets. ISOFIX childseat anchorage is provided. But despite its 4x4 capabilities, Evoque only has a space-saver spare wheel.
Our Td4 180 SE has a new all-aluminium engine with variable valve timing, lower noise and vibration levels and Ad Blue (a urea fuel additive) compliance with strict Euro-6 emission levels. All up it demonstrated the strong, flexible performance we expect from modern diesels. Yet we have concerns over two-year/34,000km servicing intervals, which is stretching reality.
The auto with paddle shifts and sports mode proved responsive and willing. Gearshifts are rapid and mostly seamless, with the feeling of always being in the right gear, yet at times it’s too aggressive. There is a propensity to grab a lower gear and launch rapidly if the accelerator is pressed quickly after slowing, which at intersections and roundabouts can be unsettling. In our review overall fuel consumption was 7.2L/100km, against the official 5.1L/100km, but that included 4x4 tracks and on the road we were regularly in the 6s.
Our 180 SE introduces Range Rover’s full Terrain Response – active chassis dynamics and active four-wheel driveline – to Evoque. Selectable and adaptive 4x4 modes, including hill descent control, deliver a high level of off-road ability, limited only by ground clearance. The cabin always felt solid and well insulated, there was good body control with nicely weighted steering, and the ride quality never ceased to impress.
Evoque is an emotive but small SUV. All-new alloy engines deliver more power and efficiency, adaptive 4WD and impressive chassis and ride tuning. Less convincing is the overall value for money.
Range Rover Evoque TD4 180 SE
PRICE: $66,495 + $7183 (est.) ORC. Premium paint $1400. Range $51,995-$80,605.
SAFETY: ESC. ABS. 5 airbags. Autonomous emergency braking. Reversing camera. Lane departure warning/lane assist. Hill descent control.
CONNECTIVITY: Sat-nav (8” screen). Bluetooth. Single USB slot. CD/DVD player.
MAIN FEATURES: Climate-control. Electric front seats. Leather trim. Hands-free tailgate. Fully-adjustable steering. Keyless start. Terrain Response system.
SPECIFICATIONS: Drivetrain: 1990cc, 4cyl turbo-diesel engine. AWD. 132kW@4000rpm, 430Nm@1750rpm. 9spd auto. 7.2L/100km (RACV test figure); 5.1L/100km (govt figure). 54L tank. Wheels: 18” alloy, 235/60 R18 tyres. Space-saver spare wheel.Towing: 2000kg (150kg towball load). Environment: 134g/km CO2.
SERVICE/REPAIRS: 24-month/34,000km services. 3yr/100,000km warranty.
RACV OVERALL RATING: * * * 1/2