The 2014 Range Rover Evoque is available with a new 9-speed automatic transmission which results in an combined economy figure of 48.7mpg for the four-wheel drive 190PS diesel model – and it’s very capable off-road as we discovered; read our road test and review here and > watch the video here.
We’ve tested the Evoque before, when it first came out, in diesel manual form. We were impressed, but automatic transmission suits a Range Rover better than manual, and Land Rover’s own off-road driving instructors say that the automatic is much better off-road. Previously the automatic version has had higher emissions than the manual, but the new 9-speed automatic delivers up to 11% better economy, resulting in emissions of 153g/km CO2 and fuel economy of 48.7mpg. So we carried out a back-to-back test of a manual Evoque against the new automatic version on road and off-road, and the results are very interesting…
Overall the Evoque hasn’t changed a great deal since it was introduced around two years ago – it doesn’t really need to change – it still looks fantastic and it’s still flying out of showrooms around the world.
The two-door version in particular looks amazing, especially with its 20-inch wheels, but access to the rear seats is very difficult. The five-door version looks almost as good and is much more practical so we’d recommend to go for that unless you really never plan to use the rear seats.
The interior looks as good as the exterior – it’s stylish, luxurious, and our test car even had an interesting ‘botanical’ design on the aluminium veneer.
The new 9-speed automatic transmission is the key change. This brings the official fuel economy virtually right up to the levels of the manual – although on the motorway the new auto proved to be more economical.
The 2.2-litre diesel engine has a power output of 190PS and this model comes with four-wheel drive, although you can buy a front-wheel drive 150PS Evoque.
For off-road enthusiasts, the Evoque’s standard ride height is 212mm and the wading depth is 500mm.
The Evoque is extremely refined to drive on road. It has a good ride, even with the huge 20-inch wheels on our test car, and handling is impressive for such a large, heavy car with a high centre of gravity. This is helped by our test car’s option of Adaptive Dynamics (£1,174), which helps to firm up the handling of the car when in Dynamic mode.
The average person looking at the Evoque is likely to imagine that it’s all show and that it wouldn’t be capable off-road, and driving it on road is only likely to accentuate this perception. However nothing could be further from the truth.
Two years ago we carried out a test to see if the Evoque diesel manual, with an official economy figure of 49.6mpg, could still drive up a mountain. It succeeded. So we thought it would be interesting to take the new Evoque back to the same mountain, along with a manual Evoque, and carry out a back-to-back test to see which was best.
Two years ago the route in North Wales, a legal right of way for 4x4s, had just been repaired, as it previously featured holes big enough to swallow complete Land Rovers. This time there had been no further repairs, so the route had two years of erosion from 4x4s and particularly from trial bikes. In addition, it had been raining for as long as anyone can remember, so things were somewhat wet, to put it mildly.
The first section of the route was primarily deep ruts filled with water, which both Evoques just about had sufficient ground clearance and wading depth to cope with. The next part was a very rocky uphill ascent, and it was here that the car with automatic transmission really showed its advantage over the manual Evoque. The manual car was experiencing lots of wheel spin accompanied by the aroma of burning clutch. In contrast the automatic Evoque clambered uneventfully over the huge rocks as though it was on a tarmac road.
Next came muddy tracks over upland fields. One section had a very steep drop on the right hand side and the driver of the manual Evoque, who shall remain nameless, thought the ruts looked too deep to position the wheels in, so took the choice of placing the wheels on top of a very narrow muddy strip right at the top of the steep slope. It wasn’t long before traction was lost and the Evoque came precariously close to testing how it would cope with rolling down a very long, steep hillside (watch the video).
The automatic Evoque was bringing up the rear and proved to have sufficient ground clearance to drive in the deep ruts and so avoid having to drive on top of them. This enabled the automatic Evoque to tow the manual car back from the brink of disaster, and further onward progress towards the top of the mountain was resumed.
However it wasn’t long before the manual Evoque again came to a stop as it was felt that the track was just too severe to negotiate without burning out the clutch completely. At this point the manual car bowed out. However the automatic Evoque made it to the top of the mountain with no dramas whatsoever, apart from a couple of small(-ish) scuffs to the two front alloys (sorry Land Rover…). If you try this at home, best not to do it with huge alloys and low profile tyres.
However it has to be said that the four season Pirelli Scorpion Verde tyres performed excellently, on and off-road. But – and it’s a big but – this Evoque had no spare wheel. For a Range Rover that we’ve proven to be extremely capable off-road, and which costs around £50,000, we think this is a huge mistake. Thankfully we didn’t experience a sharp stone ripping a sidewall, but if we did, the only bits of kit under the boot floor – a can of tyre sealant and a tyre inflator – would have been completely useless. Even if the area had a mobile phone signal, it’s unlikely that Kwik Fit would have managed to reach the stranded vehicle.
This challenge proved that the Evoque is incredibly capable off-road, whether the terrain is deep water, mud and ruts, or steep rocky slops. Also, the Land Rover driving instructors are right – this modern automatic transmission is far preferable to a manual for such driving conditions.
The new nine-speed automatic transmission provides the Evoque with an official economy figure of 48.7mpg. This is a whisker short of the 49.6mpg of the manual. However, the automatic and manual Evoques drove in convoy on motorways and dual carriageways to the off-road test route, and the automatic Evoque recorded 42.8mpg, whereas the manual could only manage 40.2mpg – showing that in such driving the automatic is more efficient. Even after driving up a mountain, the automatic Evoque still recorded 27.9mpg, which surely has to be the worst-case scenario.
Overall, after a week of mixed driving, the Evoque averaged 40.9mpg.
The base price of our test car was £45,655, which included 20-inch alloy wheels, Mauritius Blue paint, and leather seats. Then came the options. These included Lux Pack – comprised of powered tailgate, fixed panoramic roof, 825w Meridian sound system, dual view touch screen, digital television, surround camera system with tow assist, blind spot monitor, keyless entry, parallel park, climate control (£4,650); ‘rear seat entertainment’ (£2,295); Adaptive Dynamics (£1,174); Intelligent Pack – consisting of water wade sensing, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, automatic high beam assist headlamps (£700); privacy glass (£350); rear view camera (£300); adaptive Xenon headlamps (£305); cooled and heated front and rear seats (£280) and heated steering wheel (£180). These options totalled £10,234. The car was also supposed to have a full size spare wheel – at an extra cost of £120 – but presumably someone had forgotten to fit this.
The full Evoque line-up also features front-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 190hp in the four-wheel drive versions or 150hp in the eD4 front-wheel drive models. 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.
As soon as we saw the production version of the Range Rover Evoque we knew that it was going to be a success. How a car looks is a very significant element in the decision making of car buyers, and the Evoque looked stunning. When we drove it on the road we were impressed, and when we took it off road we were even more impressed. Most people will never take an Evoque off-road, but at least we now know that it should be able to cope with most things that the British weather can throw at it.
The automatic Evoque has always been the best Evoque, but so far it’s not been efficient enough for us to recommend it. The new 9-speed automatic transmission changes all that – it’s now looks great, drives well on road, is highly capable off-road, and is efficient. Only two things mark it down – the first is that although it may be efficient in real-life at a constant 60 or 70mph, you’ll still struggle to get anywhere close to the official economy figure if you do lots of urban driving. And the second issue is that this model costs £45,655 – plus over £10,000 of options – taking it to £56,009 if it had actually included the spare wheel that it should have had – which is pretty pricey in anyone’s book. It’s these two things that prevent us being able to award the Evoque full marks, but it still gains a very impressive Green Car Guide rating of 9 out of 10.