As a so called car nut, it's sometimes hard to form an objective opinion on cars which offer function over feeling. Cars with more ‘fluff' than ‘puff' don't really ignite my man fire. I see a Ferrari and I melt. I see an Aston and I gasp. I see a ‘Great Wall' and I usually give it the same look I give a toilet brush – I understand your purpose but I'm disgusted that people use you.
So, when a man reaches a point in his life where he recognises he'd like a wife, a dog and 2.4 children, a conundrum presents itself when needing to select the family car. Personally, I shuddered at the thought of having to consider in my purchase decision, not only the opinion of my wife, but also traits like boot space, accessibility and comfort instead of power, appearance and grip. That was until I discovered the Range Rover Evoque.
Let's first marvel at its beauty. Who knew a medium sized SUV could exude such a level of sophistication. It's ‘pretty' enough to keep manic mum happy on the school run and it's also gloat worthy at Tuesday's yoga class. Yet still, it's tough enough to keep hubby satisfied, even more so with its off-road credentials which make it sensational for some Bear Grylls like outback adventures. The key here is to option up the already sexy dynamic model with twenty inch wheels, tinted windows and the optional black pack. Sure, that means you'll need to mortgage one of your kids, and lease the dog out to cosmetic testing, but it'll be worth it.
Moving inside, you get much the same feeling. There's a real sense of quality and style that you rarely find in this price range. Whilst Mercedes, BMW and Audi introduce more plastic into their interiors than ever before, Land Rover appears to have gone the other way. It's not spec'd to the hills, especially in the base models and you'll probably need to mortgage your last remaining child to afford the Dynamic Tech pack and the Audio / Visual pack with all the bells and whistles, but again, it'll be worth it. My only criticism is the Sat Nav system which responds about as fast as an asthmatic snail. There is plenty of space for 5 adults to sit comfortably, but if you're planning a weekend away, pack light, the boot is certainly on the smallish side, at only 575 litres.
On the road you get a choice of three engines, two diesels and one petrol. I've never been a massive fan of diesel engines. I've always said driving a diesel is a bit like going on a date with a supermodel and successfully taking her home, carrying out foreplay, getting naked and then all of a sudden “BAM”, your mother walks in interrupting the whole thing just when the fun is about to begin. It's amazingly frustrating. So, in my eyes, the petrol is the pick of the bunch. It's a 177kW two-litre turbo beauty and it's rather spirited on the road, reaching 0-100kp/h in 7.6 seconds. Not bad for something that'll climb a mountain and cross a river. The nine-speed transmission is smooth as silk and makes the most of the torque curves in both engine types. Roadholding is excellent with tons of grip and great feel through the steering wheel. The seating position is more car than SUV and the Evoque's petite waistline means you don't feel like you're lugging the titanic around.
And that's partly why I love this car so much. In a world where I'm grasping with both hands and feet, the very last fragments of my car-youth, having a family car that still allows you to feel that sense of pride, passion and personality is something rather special. It's not perfect; in fact, chances are it'll spontaneously combust as soon as the new car warranty expires. Land Rovers are famous for it. But I rather sit by the side of the road, bonnet up, now penniless from ticking all the option boxes than be forced to drive the characterless vehicles that dominate this category.
Only one last problem exists. How the hell am I going to afford a Jet Ski?