The popular Range Rover Evoque remains one of our favourite cars in its class. Why is that?
The Range Rover Evoque has been around since 2011, and in that time it has seen substantial mechanical and moderate stylistic changes. But its core appeal, which is that of a smaller, more city focused luxury SUV, has remained a solid and desirable proposition.
From the outside, the 2016 Range Rover Evoque remains one of the best-looking cars in its class. With its updated daytime running lights, it now portrays a sharper version of that iconic Range Rover front end, alongside a coupe-like body that comes to a rather unique rear end design. It’s hard to miss on the road and in the right colour, still turns heads in the right places.
To find out the ins and outs of the Evoque, we decided to drive one from Sydney to Brisbane to replace our full size Range Rover Sport as the temporary family car.
Our test car was the $68,200 (plus on-roads) Evoque Si4 SE, which is a grade above the entry Pure variant, but still below the HSE and HSE Dynamic.
It gets pretty much most of what you want, including leather seats, front and rear parking sensors, rear-view camera, keyless entry, 8.0-inch touchscreen with sat-nav, gesture tailgate (wave your foot under it with keys in pocket), 18-inch alloys, powered front seats and the ‘must-have’ Range Rover puddle lights that remind you of your purchase every time you unlock the car at night.
Safety features that you probably won’t even notice, but should if you’re unfortunate enough to find yourself in a near accident situation, includes autonomous emergency braking, which has been proven to reduce rear ending accidents substantially. The Evoque is equipped with seven airbags and also has lane departure warning.
Our test car was also optioned up with the $4225 Driver Assistance Pack, that comes with auto parking, blind spot monitoring, closing vehicle sensing, reverse traffic detection and surround camera system. Every one of which (bar the auto parking) is a potential life saving safety feature, and while we would love to see Land Rover offer this as standard kit, it's a must-tick option.
The Si4 variants are powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, a power unit that shares some of its fundamentals with Ford.
In Range Rover form, the engine produces a healthy 177kW of power and 340Nm of torque. Couple that to a nine-speed ZF transmission and it’s a pretty gutsy thing. Range Rover claims a 0-100km/h figure of 7.6 seconds, which is pretty good considering it weighs 1658kg. And it will sip 7.8L of premium fuel per 100km.
First impressions of the powertrain, though, are not overly positive. It seems to suffer from noticeable turbo lag when you first get up and go, which can be a little frustrating if you plan on making a quick getaway from the lights. On the move, however, it’s very responsive as the revs have built up and the boost kicks in almost instantly.
Although the petrol is noticeably faster in all situations, we would rather go for the new 2.0-litre four-cylinder ingenium diesel engines on offer, which are actually cheaper than the petrol (with no luxury car tax applied due to lower fuel usage) but easier to live with and far more efficient (132kW, 430Nm, 0-100km/h in 9.0 seconds, 5.1l/100km fuel).
But the reason you buy a Range Rover isn’t for its powertrain or transmission, it’s for the interior, and like its bigger Sport brother and full size Range Rover, it's a very pleasant to be.
Lacking the spaciousness of the bigger Rangies hasn’t hindered the Evoque’s cabin ambience, which for this reviewer at least, remains the best in class without doubt. It feels expensive inside, no matter what you touch, and if you’re spending this sort of money, it’s exactly how you would want it to feel.
Certainly, somewhere along our 12-hour Sydney to Brisbane trip we noticed this in its entirety. It’s relaxing, like a compact lounge chair on wheels. You would be happy to spend considerable time inside the Evoque and unlike some of its rivals, the stylish exterior is equally matched if not superseded inside, so you’d love to bring friends along. What ruins that interior serenity, to an extent, is the infotainment system, which could be so much better.
It lacks Apple Carplay or Android Auto and the general usability of it is slow and somewhat cumbersome. It takes noticeable amount of time to boot up, which makes using the nav a little frustrating if you’re in a hurry from the outset and even simple tasks like engaging the rear-view camera, can often take few too many moments before they are displayed.
The USB port is also a trickle charger, so it won’t charge up your power hungry smart phone as fast as you’d probably want.
Our test car also has a faulty parking sensor, which means the car goes into cardiac arrest every time we engage reverse gear. An easy fix, but we have yet to find the time to have it done.
On the open highway we engaged the cruise control and relaxed as the SUV settled into a comfortable 110km/h speed, which it held without issue up or down a hill, helping us avoid any hidden speed traps.
You'll need to spend another $2680 for another options pack that will get you adaptive cruise control (amongst other things), but for whatever reason it's only available as an option on the HSE variants and above, not the SE tested here.
Other than that though, it was hard to fault how the Evoque behaved on the 972km journey. With the optional head up display ($1170) helping with both directions and speed, there was little reason to take eyes of the road. We managed around 8.4L/100km on the highway, which isn’t all that bad considering our constant attempts to overtake slower vehicles.
Our Evoque was optioned up with the 380W Meridian sound system for $1560. It really should be standard and if you love your music, it’s the bare necessity required.
We took a few detours into country towns for food and fuel and even took a few random country roads just to test the Evoque’s ride and suspension, which we can report is pretty darn good.
In standard spec, the SE variants get 18-inch wheels, but ours was optioned up with 19-inch 10- spoke style alloys (in sparkle silver) for $1950.
Even on those larger wheels, the Evoque rides beautifully, absorbing bumps and not passing much of the road surface into the cabin. It’s definitely not as floaty as the bigger Sport in how it rides or corners, but a great compromise between sporty and comfortable – one which suits its character perfectly.
Once we got back to Brisbane we attached the two ISOFIX kid seats in the back and the kids claimed their new places. The $2340 fixed panoramic sunroof keeps them entertained, though the roof cover is not solid and in the hot Queensland sun, that can make a difference when parked.
The rear seats are somewhat confusing. Looking at them in isolation you might think there isn’t much room back there, but we managed to fit the kids seats without problem and my wife even managed to squeeze between them when she had to, which we didn’t think would be possible.
It’s also worth noting that we found the boot capacity of 575L to be more than enough to fit our large pram, the kids' unless junk and the week’s worth of shopping. It’s fair to say the Evoque’s deceptively small look is not translated to actual space inside.
Overall, we’ve now had our Evoque for three weeks in anticipation of our Jaguar F-Pace and while we initially thought it would far too small as a family car, that simply hasn’t been the case and considering its far smaller proportions, it has been super easy to live with as an inner city car.
It’s an ideal choice for small families that live in inner-city suburbs that want a stylish and sophisticated SUV that you enjoy spending time in.
Our advice would be to go for the SE TD4 (132kW), option up the assistance package, Bi-Xenon headlamps, front fog lights and sound system and you won’t regret it.
2016 Range Rover Evoque Si4 SE – $68200 (plus on-road costs)
Full options list below: