The Range Rover Evoque is a now familiar sight on our roads, however many people still aren’t aware that a front-wheel drive eD4 57.6mpg version is available – so should you consider this over the four-wheel drive model?
The Range Rover Evoque
has now been around for a while and after the initial shock of launching a vehicle that looked exactly the same as the concept car, it’s now a familiar sight on our roads. However many people still assume that if they see an Evoque it’s four-wheel drive, but it doesn’t have to be, because there is a 150hp two-wheel drive version with emissions of just 129g/km CO2 and an official fuel economy figure of 57.6mpg.
The Evoque looked fantastic at launch and it still looks like a concept car on our roads today. This is even more the case with our test car – a Coupe with a three-door body style and 19-inch wheels. Other manufacturers must be cursing Land Rover for being so brave with the Evoque’s styling, as it makes most other new cars look bland or over-fussy. The sales success also proves that looks are an important element in the car buying process; to most people this will obviously come as no surprise, but some new models from other manufacturers make you wonder if they do realise the importance of making a car look visually attractive.
The Evoque’s interior is also a high quality environment, with a simple, stylish design and lots of soft touch materials, although the three-door Evoque is not the most practical of cars if any sort of regular access is required to the rear seats. This comment applies to most two or three door cars, but relative to the Evoque’s overall size, rear access does seem more difficult than you would imagine.
It does have a large boot, but one thing that we don’t approve of, especially in a car with any form of outdoor intentions, is the complete lack of any spare wheel. All you get is a can of tyre sealant and a tyre inflator. What happens if you get a large rip in your sidewall in the middle of nowhere with no mobile phone reception to call any rescue services?
Better news is that even the front-wheel drive Evoque is equipped with grippy Pirelli Scorpion Verde all-season tyres, so if it snows, you’d have more chance than most to get home safely.
The eD4 has a 150hp 2.2-litre diesel engine with a 6-speed manual transmission, with a stop/start system. The front-wheel drive version is the only model in the range to use the lower-powered 150hp engine rather than the 190hp unit.
The Range Rover Evoque is certainly a very refined driving experience. This starts with the upmarket interior ambience, and continues with the (mostly) well-insulated diesel powertrain (the car is particularly quiet at motorway speeds, but accelerate hard and it can sound strained), and even the ride is impressive, absorbing most imperfections despite being somewhat on the firm side thanks to its 19-inch wheels. However the large wheels and tyres can lead to some road noise on certain surfaces, and there’s wind noise at higher speeds – not helped by the large door mirrors.
The entire driving experience is what you would expect when you look at the Evoque from the outside – it feels like a capable, high-riding Tonka toy, with good front visibility, a chunky but sharp feel to the steering, and handling with well-controlled body roll, but you’re in no doubt that this is a relatively large, heavy car, with a high centre of gravity.
One outcome of the four-wheel drive system being ditched and being left with front-wheel drive only is that you get the characteristics of a front-wheel drive car – so on wet roads, you can get wheelspin when you set off, and understeer through corners. This is not at all very Land Rover-like, and even for on-road use, this is a reason why we’d recommend sticking to the four-wheel drive Evoque.
We did try the Evoque eD4 with some very mild off-roading. Flat muddy tracks are not a problem thanks to the decent tyres, but where you do have an issue is trying to get traction up gravel slopes, when the front wheels scrabble for grip. The front-wheel drive Evoque still has a ground clearance of 212mm and a wading depth of 500mm.
We’re not fans of electronic parking brakes, but the one in the Evoque releases itself when you drive off, so it avoids the issue that many similar systems have, that you’re never sure if the handbrake is on or off.
Although you can play music from your smartphone through the stereo, it’s a bit of a faff to scroll through various menus on the touchscreen to select your phone as the music source.
Also there’s one button on the steering wheel that controls volume (up/down) and the radio station (left/right) – it’s too easy to aim to lower the volume and inadvertently change the radio station instead.
The large reversing camera is excellent and well worth the £300 cost – especially due to the limited view through the very narrow rear window.
The front-wheel drive Evoque is obviously ideal for company car drivers who want a great-looking, desirable car and relatively low emissions, as long as they have no intention of taking it off-road or venturing out into snow drifts. After all, many SUVs that are sold today are sold in front-wheel drive form. In our view that’s fine for ‘soft-roaders’ that aren’t really engineered for proper off-road use, but the fact is that the four-wheel drive Evoque is incredibly capable off-road, and so why get rid of the highly effective engineering that the car has been designed around?
One outcome of the front-wheel drive Evoque still featuring much of the engineering (ie. weight) of the full-fat Evoque is that although it’s possible to achieve over 50mpg at a constant 60-70mph on a motorway, as soon as your driving involves much braking and accelerating, the fuel economy does drop, potentially to the mid-30’s. A lighter and more aerodynamic vehicle that wasn’t engineered for serious off-road work would be more efficient.
The official combined fuel economy figure for the Evoque eD4 is 57.6mpg (compared to 49.6mpg and 149g/km CO2 for the 190hp four-wheel drive version). Although we averaged 52.2mpg on the motorway when limiting our speed to 70mph, when taking other mixed driving into account, our average economy after a week with the car was 42.8mpg. Based on our experience with Evoques and other cars in this class, this is pretty much what we would expect. So the real life economy is a typical percentage less than the official economy figure, but even so it’s slightly disappointing.
Our test car – a Pure Tech Coupé with 19” ‘Sparkle Silver’ alloy wheels – cost £32,195. As you would hope, this is cheaper than the four-wheel drive models – but the three-door Coupe is £995 more expensive than the five-door version. Basic equipment levels are good, but in addition our car had options of fixed panoramic roof (£790), rear view camera (£300), front fog lamps (£205), and heated steering wheel (£180). It was also supposed to have a full size spare, at a cost of £120, but upon inspection all that was under the boot was a can of tyre sealant and a tyre inflator.
The full Evoque line-up also features the four-wheel drive models, and the more practical five-door body style (which still looks almost as dramatic as the three-door). The 2.2-litre diesel engine comes with either 150hp as tested in the eD4 front-wheel drive models, or as a more powerful unit with 190hp in the four-wheel drive versions. There’s also a 240hp petrol option but due to its poor economy, UK sales of this engine are very low.
The basic trim levels are Pure, Prestige and Dynamic, and the Evoque range as a whole starts at £29,200 and rises to £41,510.
The Range Rover Evoque looks fantastic, and the Coupe body style, together with the 19-inch wheels of our test car, really does mimic the original Land Rover LRX Concept car almost identically. Why other manufacturers bring out new cars that look so bland after the sales success of the Evoque is beyond us. The interior is also a very high quality environment.
The Evoque is very refined to drive, and it can achieve 50mpg+ if you sit on a motorway or A-road at 60-70mph. However we have one main issue with the front-wheel drive Evoque, and it’s the same issue that we had with the front-wheel drive Freelander – the Evoque is engineered to be an incredibly capable off-road vehicle, so why buy one that has all its go-anywhere party tricks disconnected? Okay, so it still has tyres that will perform well in the snow and ice, and ground clearance that will prove useful when driving on off-road gravel tracks. And we know that the vast majority of Evoques will never get used seriously off-road. But why buy a car that has 90% of the engineering to do amazing things, and remove the last 10% that makes it all work? We think the Evoque is a great car, but if you want a car that looks good and you’re only going to drive on tarmac roads, then we’d recommend buying a car that isn’t over-engineered to do that. The Range Rover Evoque Coupé eD4 gets a Green-Car-Guide rating of 8 out of 10.
We’ve already tested the four-wheel drive Range Rover Evoque diesel manual , but new for 2014 is a 9-speed automatic transmission that is much more efficient than the previous automatic gearbox – this surely will be the ultimate Evoque – read our review first thing in the New Year.