Merc’s new 604bhp saloon revealed, and it uses 4WD and RWD at the same time
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The Top Gear car review:Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
For:It’s stylish, great to drive and feels like a Range Rover should
Against:The boot's tiny, it's pricey and quickly gets pricier...
2.0 TD4 HSE Dynamic 5dr Auto
What exactly is ‘new’ about the new Range Rover Evoque?
Visually? Optional all-LED headlights, and a snazzy new LED...
Useful upgrade as an auto, though manual mode makes your head spin. Evoque still terrific
This is the Range Rover Evoque… in 2WD. Savvy move? Yes. An undermining of the brand? Erm
We only drove the prototype but it was enough to answer a few questions, chief among which was - is it any good to drive? Yes.
What we say:
It may be a baby crossover for the fashion conscious but it's all Range Rover at heart
What is it?
The smash-hit baby Rangie. The Evoque is a Range Rover for fashionistas, famously designed with guidance from Victoria Beckham, and how it’s turned out to the posh SUV to be seen in. There’s a coupe-ish three-door or a more practical (and much better selling) five-door, should you have children to deposit at a private school.
It’s recently been facelifted. Honest. Yes, visual changes are minor but there is a welcome boost under the bonnet - JLR’s ace 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel.
The ride and handling people have pulled off something a bit special here. The Evoque might be a Rangie, but there’s nothing wallowy about the way it corners. It attacks windy roads like an excited hot hatch, but still rides with the class of its big brother. This is a very well-rounded machine, and although purists might think it’s some fancy bit of chintz, it’s still a grafter when the road turns brown.
We’ve driven the Evoque to the Scottish Highlands, across an Icelandic glacier and over mammoth dunes in Dubai. And it didn’t slip up once. More recently, we’ve been driving it in 2015 guise, relishing the addition of that 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine. It’s a huge step on from the rattly old 2.2, and makes the choice of engine almost a no-brainer. Even so, there’s still a turbocharged petrol for those who fancy going from zero to sixty in 7.1 seconds (and making a lot of fuss in the process).
The bulk of the range is all-wheel drive, but there is a fuel-sipping front-drive eD4 variant too - although most buyers seem to think a manual gearbox in an evoque isn’t the done thing and still go for the 4WD TD4 auto.
On the inside
You won’t fit a wolfhound in the boot, but that’s not really the point. Importantly, it actually feels Range Rovery inside, from the classy materials and quality build to the muted layout. You sit high with a great view out the front, but rearward visibility is hampered by high sides and shallow glass. Rear space is bigger than it looks – sub-six-footers should be fine back there, even in the three-door – and the back seats come as a sculpted pair or a three-person bench. ‘Dynamic’ trim adds buckety front seats in black or red leather.
The Evoque starts at £30,600 for a five-door ‘SE’ model and rises by over £20K for the top end ‘Autobiography’. There’s a spread of options, including gadgets such as surround-view parking cameras and a dual-view screen, so passengers can watch telly while you worry about driving. But if you indulge, you pay for it - the £55K plus Evoque is an easy achievement. At least the excellent new diesel engine is step-on economical. The 2WD eD4 can do over 67mpg, and even the TD4 auto does 58mph, with correspondingly tax-friendly CO2.