he only reason that you would buy a Rolls-Royce Ghost is because you can’t afford a Phantom. It’s the same story with the Porsche Coxster. Some say that this car tells the world your wife has left you. It doesn’t. What it says is: “I haven’t got enough disposable income to stretch to a 911.”
Land Rover are very good at avoiding this pitfall. When you have a Discovery, it’s because you need seven seats or because you are a murderer. When you have a Range Rover Sport, it’s not because you can’t quite afford the real thing: it’s because you are a drug dealer.
However, I really thought they’d come a cropper with the Evoque. I thought it would be a cheap facsimile of the real thing. A Fabergé egg made from plastic. A Montblanc ballpoint with a Bic heart.
This made me cross. No one likes Range Rovers more than I do, and I saw the Evoque as a cheap tool for screwing the world’s idiots and ruining the brand all at the same time.
They were going to major on style. It would be all form and no function. I mean they were using Victoria Beckham as a design consultant and what good would that be when you were in a bog in Botswana. “Well at least it doesn’t have a VPL.”
This is important. A car can and should be stylish, but it MUST be able to cash the cheques that its badge is writing. A Ferrari cannot have a 1.3-litre engine, no matter how pretty the body might be.
The Evoque is very pretty. The three-door especially is one of the best-looking cars on the road today. But if you look down between the front seats, you will note that it has the same all-terrain functions that you get on its big brother. You can’t see its knickers and yet it can still uproot a tree. It’s Fatima Whitbread in a Scarlett Johansson suit.
But, best of all, it drives like a dream…
… There have been many great cars launched over the past 12 months. I’m particularly fond of the BMW 1M, and the absurd new Black Series offering from AMG. But these are one-trick ponies. The Evoque is more than that. It’s a pony that’s also a racehorse, a shire horse, a dray horse, a show jumper and an easy rosette-winner in the dressage competition. It’s brilliant. And it’s the Top Gear Car of the Year.