Price and positioning
The Range Rover Evoque’s complex model range features no fewer than 26 variants, with a choice of three diesel and three petrol engines, and three model grades. Pricing ranges from $64,640 to $93,679 before on-road costs. We’ve focused on the mid-range $75,118 R-Dynamic SE P250 petrol all-wheel drive.
Rivals for the Evoque include the Audi Q5, BMW X3/X4, Mercedes-Benz GLC/GLC Coupe, Lexus NX, Porsche Macan and Volvo XC60. Competition from within the Land Rover stable includes the closely related Discovery Sport. An equivalent Disco Sport with the same powertrain costs about $5000 less than the Evoque and has seven seats.
The Evoque features high-tech off-road functionality and innovative interior touches, but it’s missing key items from the standard equipment list. Our press car blew out by $15,000 to more than $90,000 before on-roads with 12 individual options and a driver-assist option package included. Many of these should be standard in a vehicle with a premium badge and price point. Charging for items like a panoramic sunroof or a fancy audio system is understandable, but making people pay extra for keyless entry and start ($900), heated front seats ($560) and digital radio ($400) is outrageous. Bundling blind-spot monitoring into an options pack rather than offering it as standard is also a bit rich. Save for the heated seats, all of these features are standard on the BMW, Porsche and Mercedes.
ANCAP awarded the Evoque a five-star rating. The lane-keeping aid proved effective, steering the vehicle gently back into the lane on a freeway and keeping it centred on a single-lane back road.
The inside story
Land Rover’s no-cost option ‘vegan’ interior is a welcome offering for those who aren’t keen on animal products. The eucalyptus-derived textile and suede-cloth trim made from recycled plastic looks premium yet durable.
The Evoque’s cabin marks a big improvement over the first-generation model. There’s an elegance to the interior design and layout that its rivals can’t match. The feel of the materials throughout, even on the dash, is high end.
The front seats hug the upper body, but could do with more under-thigh support. Multiple storage nooks, a deep central bin and large bottle storage in the doors add to the cabin’s user-friendliness.
Dual digital screens dominate the centre stack. On the lower display, switch between functions for climate control, seats, settings and vehicle information by pushing the dials. It’s the same clever setup from the Jaguar XE. The upper screen houses the phone, media and navigation menus and the screen itself is tilt adjustable. The controls and graphics on the beautiful suede-cloth steering wheel are clear and visually striking.
The Evoque is larger than the original model, making for improved second-row comfort. There’s more leg room and a surprising amount of head room given its coupe-like shape. The second row has large door storage, knee-level air vents, map pockets and a 12-volt outlet but no USB outlets.
Boot space is generous at 591 litres, but the related Discovery Sport (754 litres) can swallow more cargo. The 60/40 rear seats don’t fold flat and there is a space-saver spare wheel.
On the road
The 183kW/365Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged engine is the second-most-powerful petrol variant in the Evoque range, behind the 221kW/400Nm P300.
The turbocharger produces significant lag on take-off. It’s evident even with the laggy stop-start system turned off. Once moving, it’s a sweet, torquey engine that pulls away quickly and offers plenty of poke for overtaking. Shifts from the nine-speed transmission are smooth, but the engine pushes the revs to the limit before shifting up a gear.
Dynamic mode improves response, adds weight to the steering and injects drama to the engine note. Gravel mode noticeably improves traction on unsealed back roads. We didn’t stray too far from the tarmac during this test, but some light off-roading at last year’s launch event proved that the Evoque is more capable than most of its soft-roader rivals.
The Evoque’s suspension has been tuned for dynamic driving and combined with the big 21-inch low-profile tyres, it means the ride is a little busy and firm, but not uncomfortably so. There’s some lateral movement when cornering, but it handles on tight bends remarkably well.
For the most part the road holding was impressive, but it briefly lost traction when we encountered some loose gravel that had been dumped on a paved road. The ESC kicked in and made sure we continued in the right direction.
We experienced a couple of glitches with our test car. At one point we put it in reverse, but both screens in the centre stack failed to activate, so there was no rear camera display. We had to turn the Evoque off and then on again to re-set it. The reversing camera failed to engage a second time the following day. Not great, particularly given Land Rover already has a reputation for these sorts of quality quirks.
Our fuel economy was 12.1 litres per 100 kilometres, up on the official claim of 8.1L/100km.
Undoubtedly better than the original – more spacious, refined and engaging to drive, but badly let down by unreliable electrics and questionable value for money.