|Long-term test: Range Rover Evoque SD4 HSE Dynamic
||36.1mpg, 74.1% of official
||9 March 2018
The latest: The Parkers Verdict
Range Rover Evoque: The full story…
We've spent six months in the Evoque to see how the new Ingenium diesel performed in 240hp EU 6.2 form. Great performance, okay refinement, but it likes a drink…
|1. Welcome||2. As a family hack||3. Evoque vs winter|
|4. Evoque vs XC40||5. The Geneva run||6. Keeping in touch|
|7. Taking it off-road|| 8. The finance story
|| 9: Getting blue with the Evoque
| 10: Horsing around
|| 11. Edinburgh or bust
|| 12: The Parkers Verdict
Grabbing the high-power diesel to test the high-spec Ingenium engine
The Range Rover Evoque has been around since 2011. Think about that – this fresh-looking and still-successful car is seven years old. In today's car industry, that's an eternity – and yet, whenever you see an Evoque on the road, it's hard to think of it as a car that's in its twighlight years.
And why would that be? Put it down to being a great piece of design – it's aged well, and as long as you spec it in a muted colour and the right wheels, it's classy-looking as well as progressive.
But don't think that just it's getting on and still selling strongly, Land Rover isn't resting on its laurels – it's being constantly developed. And that's why we've picked up a new example for the Parkers long-term test fleet.
It arrived at just the right time – cold, snowy weather was enveloping the UK, and with its proven four-wheel drive capability proved reassuring.
What spec Evoque did we choose?
With the majority of Evoque sales in the UK being diesels, this was the no-brainer choice. But as it's replacing our much-loved Skoda Superb Sportline 280, mid-range punch and effortless performance were still a priority.
So, that had us tick the SD4 box on the configurator – 240hp should do very nicely indeed. It's a new derivative in the Ingenium engine range, so we're keen to see how it performs.
Range Rover Evoque: What you get for your money
We've chosen the HSE Dynamic version, which isn't cheap, but doesn't need loading up with options. As standard, it comes with a comprehensive list of equipment, which you'd expect for the £48,250 it cost (at the time of going to press).
- Xenon headlights with LED signature and power wash
- Rain-sensing windscreen wipers
- Auto-dimming interior rear view mirror
- Front and Rear Parking Aid
- Ambient Interior Lighting
- 20-inch five split-spoke ‘Style 504’ alloy wheels
- Power fold, heated door mirrors with approach and puddle lights
- Perforated Grained leather seats
- Automatic High Beam Assist (AHBA)
- Heated windscreen and washer jets
- Perforated Windsor leather steering wheel
- Meridian Surround Sound System 380-watt
- Panoramic roof
- All Terrain Progress Control (ATPC)
We did tick a couple of options, which really should add to the dynamic appeal of the Evoque:
- Magnetic damping systems (£850)
- Extended Leather Upgrade (£1,060)
- Heated Steering Wheel (£200)
- Privacy Glass (£375)
That makes this Evoque a £50,000 car, and that's a lot of dosh. Is it worth the money, and despite getting on in years, does the continual development that Land Rover has put into this car – including that new engine – make it a desirable car to run in the long term?
It's still a big seller for Land Rover, so you clearly already know the answer to that question – but the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and all that.
Stay tuned for updates!
By Keith Adams
How the Range Rover swallows the family whole
As a rule, we’re objective and rational at Parkers – with hundreds of cars to assess for a wide range of users, it’s the only way to be fair. Nevertheless, we’re also all human, and have preferences and prejudices like anyone else.
I have to confess to having been unconvinced by the popularity of crossovers and SUVs as family cars, personally. Heavier, larger than necessary, often equipped with engines and gearboxes unsuited to the off-road implications of the styling and size of vehicle, it’s not a judgement based on ‘that car is too big for you’.
it’s more that it’s always been my preference that for space and comfort, a nice estate or MPV is great. When driving in a town or city, then a small car is delightful – and for going off-road, I’ll get something with strong axles, a chassis, and locking differentials.
Great looks to get over the SUV thing
The Range Rover Evoque has been incredibly popular, too, so it draws attention to this weirdly compromised design trend.
Almost comically styled, with wide arches and slit-like rear window and headlights, the instant conclusion that it’s more style than substance is almost inevitable.
Needless to say, when offered the use of Keith’s long-termer for a couple of weekends, all of these negative associations were ready to be validated.
A small SUV: It’s not as inefficient as it appears
Acquitting itself well as a road car for the usual commute - though as one of the highest specifications of Evoque available this shouldn’t be a surprise – my personal opinion on cars for practicality got a much-deserved smackdown when my friend Anna’s family became part of the equation.
An outing with her seven year old son and 10 year old daughter revealed just how much paraphernalia the typical family car has to cope with, and my super-practical, go-anywhere Fiat Fullback pickup has nowhere covered to put it!
Yes – I could add a hardtop, but then why wouldn’t I have bought a proper 4x4 SUV in the first place? I’d have to take it off to carry car parts and other things you wouldn’t want to share a passenger compartment with – and no, Small hyperactive children do not fit that latter category…
Stylish family load-lugger
Instead, the Range Rover Evoque took on the role for family transport (above) – a duty that countless (over half a million have been sold worldwide) examples take on day in, day out.
The bootspace swallowed three weekend cases, two Pokemon, two sets of bedding and two tubs of Lego, apparently enough to cope with a weekend with a grandparent in Suffolk.
The rear seats fit booster seats and children with surprisingly generous legroom, and for the first time in years (my own kids being long grown up, having endured a childhood in Citroen CXs, a Porsche 924S and a smallish Fiat) I had a long car journey with easily bored children to consider.
Deceptive body design of the Evoque
The cleverness of the Evoque isn’t entirely apparent from outside, so if – like me – you’d formed opinions based on following that imposing, squat rear view down Britain’s motorways and through cities, it comes as a real surprise to find you can see out of it from behind the wheel.
A lot of family hatchbacks and SUVs have widened the C-pillar – the one between the rear door and back window – to the point where it is a significant blind spot. Not the Evoque, where a surprisingly generous window lets a great deal of light in for that tapering roof.
Better yet, the rear view mirror is incredibly well positioned, giving a very clear view of vehicles and obstructions behind the car.
Looking forward, the A-pillars are cleverly tapered to minimise obstruction and guide light in. As the dashboard falls away from the windscreen in an elegant slope, and in our car the pale leather trim and large panoramic roof enhance the feeling of space and light further, the world inside an Evoque feels entirely different to the squat, robust exterior design.
Throughout there are little visual tricks and classic touches that either look great in isolation, or evoke – sorry – Jaguar and Land Rover models of the past. It’s clever, it’s appealing, and it works very well.
What will divide opinion is the well-presented sat-nav and media system, which we’ll come back to after more experience with it.
We’re all going on a Suffolk holiday
Anna’s father lives on the Suffolk/Norfolk border, near the eclectic architecture and characters of Diss. Adding to the journey, a short detour to Chelmsford was necessary, thus inflicting the delights of the M11 on the Evoque and those who travelled within.
Despite a near four-hour stint and an ill-advised fuel stop at Birchanger Services (oft mentioned on traffic alerts, having visited it’s easy to understand why) the kids were comfortable and relaxed in the back of the smallest Range Rover.
Refinement of the Ingenium diesel is in some ways, preferable to the only other Evoque I’ve driven – the high performance Si4 290 petrol. For the most part, the automatic gearbox is completely unobtrusive until slowing/crawling around 15-19mph, where the gearing and torque results in a rather abrupt, jolting shift no matter how delicately the pedal is pressed.
What really struck me though, was the peaceful atmosphere of the drive. Fully-laden the slightly jittery low-speed ride of the Evoque is tamed, and the kids were able to converse without shouting, even with music on.
Driving them home at dusk, Jack’s request that the panoramic roof be closed was met with the slow, gentle brushing sound of the blind shutting out the moonlight, and like a blanket, the Range Rover felt secure, warm and safe.
This, I suspect, is what the hundreds of thousands of Evoque owners really value – not the rock climbing potential alluded to, or the badge prestige. And I get it.
Off-road ability cuts it in the snow
I don’t care what the weatherman says… but unfortunately if the weatherman says it’s snowing, no matter how well equipped you are the British road network is likely to grind to a halt. We’d already had one period of snow where the Range Rover Evoque had tackled the usual couple of inches of frozen water and subsequent slush without fuss; this would be rather different.
Some serious snow fall, thanks to the aptly named ‘Beast from the East’ proved challenging. Everyone on the Parkers team made efforts to get into work safely and succeeded, but as the peak risk period offered by the Met Office passed without incident, we gazed out of Media House’s panoramic windows at clear skies and wondered what the fuss was about.
Then the snow began to fall… and fall… and fall. Within minutes the azure skies were a flurry of white powder against a grey background, and weather alert sounds pinged across the office phones.
Keith opted for the Bentley Bentayga – a car that copes with the traffic and stress in equally impressive measures – and I was fortunate enough to have the Evoque again. Rather than the usual route of the A605 and A14 which was thoroughly red on the sat-nav, the little Range Rover took to the Leicestershire hills and tackled the A47.
It just takes one unprepared driver
Most of the route was handled in a slow, stress-free manner by everyone sharing the road. Secure grip and paddleshifters for engine braking – plus the sophisticated drive mode for snow that optimises traction control and shift points accordingly – made the run home no more stressful than a rainy day.
It all changed as the altitude rose and route got further west. Crosswinds blew six, seven-foot high drifts, occasionally marked by drivers caught out biting chunks out of the pristine snow and scribing swirling flourishes in the white covering of the road.
Their signatures generally told of happy endings, though the morning would reveal the occasional hedgerow hatchback to remind us of those less fortunate.
Little known outside of the A47’s manic rush of traffic, the village of Tugby took a pivotal role in the life of hundreds, if not thousands of drivers that evening however.
Coping with the Beast From The East
The Evoque and I had enjoyed almost 20 minutes of smooth, 35-40mph progress with soothing low RPM, high-gear (radio off, to listen for changes in traction or road surface) across almost unbroken snow, and as we followed the slow drop into the village, a blinding chain of headlights shone.
At their front, a lone BMW slithered and swung, an indecisive pendulum surrounded by people trying to shove and push it into submission like Neaderthals battling a mammoth (historical accuracy notwithstanding, of course).
There was nothing we could do to add to their assistance, so instead we carried on the mile or so uphill, counting the cars slithering frantically towards the one in front, on high alert for any sudden change in direction of the oncoming traffic.
The roads less travelled are equally busy
Aided by the luxury of traction and security of a modern, well maintained car, the country roads into the hills were the natural choice – away from the default route of commuters.
They were also the natural choice of all the other local drivers as well, and farmers with tractors aided white vans up and down difficult slopes, roads cut out of drifts becoming more common than actual roads.
By the time I got home – almost three hours to cover 48 miles – even the Evoque’s charms were failing to soothe. Which probably accounts for a spectacular misjudgement of my own driveway…
Deceptively deep snow catches out the driver - not the Evoque
What looked like a light covering of snow between the barely-lit fenceposts greeted our arrival home. Squat and determined, the Evoque climbed slowly up the initial slope and boldly progressed along the narrow path. Snow crunching beneath the wheels… and then, we stopped.
Bound front, left and right, the Range Rover’s front end had discovered the amazing ability of water to exist as a solid. No damage, it had just become a gentle but firm hand pushing the car’s nose below the numberplate and saying ‘no further’.
Reversing, though, it still would not move. In 'sand' mode, the wheels spun. Even in low-traction, launch mode, it felt like it must be on sheet ice on all four wheels.
I got out, and stepped across into a snow drift above-knee height - the optical illusion of the gentle slope shattered. Underneath, the Evoque had pushed all the snow beneath and made a little ramp that lifted the wheels clear of grip.
Stuck – but down to driver error. Oops!
Shovel deployed, it was driven back down to the roadside, and parked under the trees. Morning light revealed empty fields, but the hedge-and-fence lined drive had funnelled all the blown snow into drifts about three feet high consistently.
Soon cleared with a Maintou and hay loader, it revealed how suddenly and geographically the road conditions can change. Roads that were passable by any sensible hatch defeated not only the Evoque – my Fiat Fullback was equally trapped by the built up snow.
Meanwhile in all the usual challenging conditions, the Evoque’s clever all-wheel drive system proved incredibly good. It’s even possible to observe the power distribution on the infotainment screen.
Is the new kid on the block capable of beating the old master?
I've found myself wrestling the Range Rover Evoque's keys from my colleagues on more than one occasion in the past few weeks. I don't know why I find this susprising, because after spending time and miles with this posh-roader from Halewood, its uncanny ability to make the driver feel special, and reward them with a capable drive has been a very satisfying experience.
Considering it's been around for seven years, that's an impressive performance from the Evoque. And never was this more obvious when we had a Volvo XC40 in the office, which I took time to twin-test against my Evoque. Unlike our recent group test, which compared the Evoque with the DS 7 Crossback, BMW X2 and (another) Volvo XC40, this was a chance for me to have a more personal perspective.
After all, there are lots of satisfied Evoque owners out there ready to change, and this young pretender from the Swedish brand has certainly been turning heads. I won't spoil the result of the group test, but needless to say that my own views as a long-standing Range Rover Evoque driver differ slightly from the wider Parkers team.
Volvo XC40: comfortable, cool and interesting
The XC40 is very much a car of the moment. It's been crowned the European Car of The Year for 2018, and car reviewers are throwing all manner of superlatives in its direction. Rather like the Evoque at launch, the XC40 is a real attention-grabber. It's less handsome than the XC60, but it's striking without being contrived.
On the road, the XC40 is good in places, and average in others. The ride is smooth enough and the steering is detatched giving it a distinctly unsporting air. I really don't mind that, as SUVs pretending to be hot hatches are always going to be a compromise. So the form guide says.
Inside, the XC40 is a nice place to spend time. The seats are supportive, the design cohesive, and there's an effortless air of Scandi-cool. The portrait-format infortainment system is responsive and easy to use, with a particularly effective voice activation system. The sound system on the Harman-Kardon-optioned model is also a welcome addition, marred only by its cumbersome user interface.
Range Rover Evoque: stylish, mature and very capable
The Evoque is always going to be in pole position given the many happy miles I've spent getting to know it. But after an extended drive of the XC40, some aspects of the Evoque are thrown into sharp relief – mainly around its controls and infotainment, which both look good, feel premium, but aren't intuitive to use. And why, Land Rover, is there no voice control for the sat-nav?
On the road, though, the Evoque is an absolute cracker. It's pacy, thanks to that 240hp diesel engine, and once rolling, has better engine refinement (or insulation) than the Volvo. Steering is much sharper and full of feel, while the ride and handling balance is really rather impressive thanks to its magnetic dampers. Overall, it's still a good steer, and it's easy to see why so many people buy them.
Inside, the Evoque wipes the floor with the XC40, at least in terms of style and ambiance. Its seats are well-shaped and supportive, and the dashboard looks and feels spot on, with the soft-touch leather particularly worthy of praise. The way the centre console splits the roll-shaped dash is a great piece of design, too.
Which would I choose?
As I said at the top, I'm in the position facing many potential XC40 owners: happy with my Evoque. But is Land Rover casting a nervous eye in the direction of this car? The short answer should be yes.
If the comparison was between comparatively-priced cars, I suspect the Volvo would have had better body control and a nicer interior, turning around all the advantages of my HSE Lux.
But in this instance, back-to-back, the Range Rover's more assured style and classier interior would swing it for me. I'm aware that the Evoque is colour, trim and wheel sensitive, and my sober-suited model has class that more lairy Evoques lack.
What this Volvo does do supremely well, though, is show up the Evoque's weakenesses – infotainment, small boot, cramped rear and a lack of stowage space – which I hope will all be swept away when the new Evoque goes on sale in 2019.
By Keith Adams
Dashing to the Geneva show was a walk in the park
Every year, I make the annual pilgrimage to the Geneva motor show. But unlike most of my colleagues and friends, I prefer to take a little extra time and drive there and back – rather than cramming into some awful shuttle flight from Heathrow at ridiculous o'clock for the day-in-day-out drag.
As a consequence, every year, I end up ploughing through France, getting to know every nook and cranny of my car on the country's spookily-empty autoroutes. For 2018, my car for the journey is the Range Rover Evoque, which I'd been keen to take on a proper European drive (rather than its usual quick return to the Lake District on what feels like every weekend).
And that's why I find myself sitting on the rear seat of the Evoque, laptop on knees, heading for France on the Eurotunnel. I'm writing copy for the CAR website in anticipation of seeing the exciting new Range Rover SV Coupe after a 7.00am start from home. This really does seem like the perfect way to travel, and the perfect car in which to do so.
Ticking off the autoroute miles – easy, but too many stops
Off the tunnel and on to the autoroute, and the sat-nav tells me there's 510 miles to go. Glancing down at the fuel gauge, I'm surprised to see that there's a third of a tank left – not good considering I'd brimmed it when I left home, about 170 miles ago. I didn't think I'd been going that quickly. Ah, well. A quick fill up, and I'd be on my way again.
Under way – again – it's easy to settle in to the Evoque. The seats are impressively supportive, the view forward is commanding, and the 240hp diesel engine is ticking over quietly at less than 2,000rpm at the French speed limit of 81mph.
Considering its off-road DNA, the Evoque makes a surprisingly restful motorway cruiser. Playing with the infotainment system, I decide that it's less annoying than it was when I first picked up the Evoque.
Okay, so you can't control the sat-nav by voice (a schoolboy error by JLR, I reckon), but the music function works well, not missing any selection, when searching one of my 32GB memory sticks crammed full of my esoteric (sorry, rubbish) selection of tunes. Impressive reproduction, too, from the Meridian-branded sound system. Into my stride? Not really...
Somewhere between Marne and Aube, three hours and some 220 miles in, and the Range Rover is beginning to look like it needs a refill. This is a shame, because the Evoque's long legs mean that I'm not really ready to stop yet. The traffic is light, I'm enjoying the music, and all is well with the world.
Still, on the positive side, it does mean I can take a rest, log-in to my work, and make sure all's fine back at base. I miss the days when being on the road meant being out of contact. The refill isn't expensive – the Evoque has a small tank – and the fuel consumption is running at 32mpg.
With around 300 miles to go, I'm still fresh, enjoying the light traffic, and the feeling that I'm really getting under the skin of the Evoque. As night starts to fall, the auto-dipping headlights illuminate the road well, although its auto-dipping function can be a touch slow.
As I get into the last section of the journey, the autoroute turns interesting. There are curves, turns and inclines, and after seven hours at the wheel they're a bit of a wake-up call.
But the good news is that with its magnetic damping and responsive steering, the Evoque feels good, planted and actually quite fun. It's no hot hatch, but it's certainly towards the top of the SUV pack when it comes to dynamics – a hell of an achievement considering the age of the basic design.
Of course, the fun is curtailed, first by average speed cameras, then by the need to refuel. Again. By 10.00pm I'm rolling into Geneva, still feeling relaxed, and impressed by this car's easy international demeanor. Considering the diesel engine isn't the most refined in its class, it's certainly hushed on a long trip, and all of the controls, the driving position and overall usability of the car are fit for purpose.
Perfect for the Geneva show
I could nitpick, and moan about the short range (an issue for me, but maybe not for you), the lack of decent stowage space in the cabin, the aging infotainment, and sometimes dull-witted transmission, but on the dash to Geneva, they weren't too distracting. Some people might call this an 'epic roadtrip' but in reality, this is a drive that any new car can shrug off without a hitch.
That proves the case here – and it leaves me sharp enough the following day to catch Land Rover designer Gerry McGovern and boss Ralph Speth posing alongside the company's latest creation, the Range Rover SV Coupe – let's hope they excel themselves with the next Evoque, due soon… Now all that leaves me to do is to get back, and be on form for the office. No worries.
By Keith Adams
We test the Evoque's infotainment system
Previously we’ve alluded to the… complex, let’s call it, nature of the Range Rover Evoque’s infotainment system. It is well presented physically, integrated into the leather-trimmed dashboard like it was a focal point at the start, and certainly capable. After months behind the wheel, we're getting used to it – although jumping in other test cars serves to remind of its limitations.
In addition to sat-nav, DAB and analogue radio, USB and iPod media sources, it has cellular (4G) connectivity with a SIM card, extensive live services which we’ll look at in depth in the next update, and Land Rover’s ‘InControl’ system.
What it lacks is Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, or MirrorLink. Instead it has the proprietary InControl system of smartphone and car apps – which could, in theory, be considered superior to these and is certainly analogous. Of course, what makes those solutions so appealing is third party support (for Android) and consistency of user experience between car and phone.
InControl leaves you in, er, control
Setting up involves registering with Land Rover, installing an app on your phone, and downloading and registering a few additional apps. It’s not overly complex but companies like Apple have shown the way forward, and the clumsy multi-stage process is miles from the pixel-pattern brilliance of pairing an Apple Watch and iPhone.
Why can’t the Range Rover display a smart code for the phone to see and automate? A clue may be in the capabilities of the apps and Evoque when paired.
Most car technology that doesn’t support CarPlay is limited to a few media or basic data sharing apps – the short lived, poorly implemented world of internet radio apps, or expense trackers you’ll use a couple of times and then forget. Land Rover has put rather more control in the palm of your hard – this app is literally the key to your car.
Evoque’s climate controlled welcome
Land Rover Remote is the primary interface between phone and Evoque. It shows the location of the car, tracks routes, and crucially, allows locking, triggering of the ‘beep and flash’ alarm, and on models so equipped, pre-heating of the climate control. Not with the traditional fuel-fired heater, but simply starting the engine and running the climate control.
This is a marvellous feature for weather extremes. Some people may be of the opinion that it’s environmentally unfriendly to ‘warm-up’ or 'cool down' your car this way – and also, traditionally an insurance risk because you had to have the keys in and engine running.
In the case of the Evoque, you can start it with the doors locked and it will run to a preset interior temperature or a maximum of 30 minutes. This is enough to bring it to a comfortable level from an ambient of -8 or -9 degrees (cold) or 25 degrees-plus (hot).
Winter warmers and AdBlue assistance
Further helping with this winter ritual, the wipers can be parked higher up the windscreen, within range of the defrosting blast of air and easier to clear of ice generally.
In addition, the app shows you the status of the car overall, with some service status alerts and useful maintenance data – fuel and range remaining, washer fluid, tyre inflation and where applicable, AdBlue (Land Rover refer to it as Diesel Exhaust Fluid).
One of the more useful warnings, this gives the amount required to refill the 14.5L tank and range remaining.
And the flipside of Land Rover's InControl
If Land Rover Remote is a shining example of technology integrating with cars, the rest of InControl is a decidedly mixed bag. Connection to the iPhone requires confirmation on screen, which means jumping into the car, plugging in and setting off is interrupted. Some apps need a three-stage install, activate, verify process.
Most apps are of little utility and some crudity, being developed outwith Land Rover’s stringent user interface testing and vaguely escaping Apple’s standards for the remote display too. Glympse is a well-established location sharing social tool, and there are a couple of media apps for audiobooks and internet radio. Third-party navigation tools are supported, too.
Of the useful apps, many drivers will probably want the ability to pay for Shell fuel directly from the infotainment system (with linked loyalty card), and a fair number may consider paying the £5.99 for Mileage Tracker Pro; though that does duplicate some of the remote route tracking capability. I’ve found the free Voice Memo app useful for recording thoughts and song ideas when driving, too.
InControl verdict: good, but could be improved
Once done they’re okay, as in-car apps go, but lack the ‘don’t touch me!’ determination of Siri and iOS to keep you from taking your hands off the wheel. Steering wheel phone controls don’t intuitively allow hands-free control of the iPhone.
Intuitively is key. There are menu options for ‘Apple Cloud Music’, and somewhere there has to be a means of voice controlling this stuff, but it’s going to take unprecedented measures.
Actions of the type no Apple user is prepared to face in normal life. We are going to have to…
Read the manual.
Taking the Evoque to Eastnor Castle and allowing it to strut its stuff
There's a lot of talk about the Range Rover Evoque and how it's favoured by, shall we say, people who aren't particularly fluent in off-road driving. Since I've had mine, it's something I've heard time and time again – and something that I've been keen to disprove.
After all, it's a Land Rover, it's essentially based on the previous-generation Freelander, and therefore, the Evoque should be a very capable thing off-road. To prove the point, I booked it into a Land Rover Experience (LRE) driver training session, at Eastnor Castle, and put myself in the hands of its well-versed driver trainers.
And anyone who buys a new Land Rover can do this. You're automatically given a voucher that entitles you to half a day's training for free at one of the company's 12 LRE centres around the country. I should say in the interests of total disclosure that you don't get to use your own car in this situation normally – but in all other ways, I was treated to the full customer experience.
Getting to know the Evoque off-road
I won't go into too much detail about what you get up to on the LRE course, because they probably vary a little depending on which site you go to. But at Eastnor, after a walk around the car, we set off to tackle a number of obstacles designed to build your confidence in the car as well as test its off-road capability in a safe environment.
So, the first section of the course centred on a selection of concrete challenges. The first was a flight of steps, which scared me to look at, but which the Evoque flew up without an issue. After that, we went through a bowl, which had us tilt to around 30 degrees. I was sure it was going to tip over, but we didn't.
The most interesting exercise was the rock crawl – a concrete set of savage dips, which came close to challenging the Dynamic front bumper of my car. But if I'm honest, what impressed me the most of all about this exercise was the Range Rover Evoque at Eastnor Castle was the Evoque's All Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) system.
Cruise control for off-roaders...
So, I hear you ask – what is ATPC? Quite simply, it's a system designed to traverse ruts and poor conditions automatically. Rather like Hill Descent Control (HDC), where has you select your speed, and the car drives downhill on its own, drama-free and with your feet off the pedals, ATPC will handle rough terrain for you.
My instructor selected ATPC mode for me, talked me through it, and told me to take my feet off the pedals. 'Just let the car do its thing in Rock Crawl mode, take your feet off, and control the speed with the cruise control plus- and minus-buttons,' he said. 'Oh, and remember to steer.'
Being used to HDC, the concept of feet-off driving is nothing new, but as we crept forwards, individual wheels feeling for grip and applying power as necessary, it was easy to appreciate that this was something else entirely. And you know what – for an inexperienced off-roader like me, this was the perfect way to deal with rough terrain (and still look like a hero).
On to the green lanes
There's no doubt about it – this is an impressive piece of software, and this more than anything else, profoundly impressed me on this quick trip to Eastnor Castle. After this, we spent some time running up and down a series of the green lanes that cross-cross the Eastnor Estate.
With time and experience, driving up and down these became a matter of taking care, picking your line, and remembering the Evoque's relative lack of ground clearance compared with larger Range Rovers. But you know what, the plucky little thing shrugged off pretty much everything I threw at it.
It's easy to draw conclusions from my day at Eastnor Castle. Firstly, aside from taking care of your ground clearance and ramp angles, the Evoque really can cut the mustard off-road. Secondly, if you own a Land Rover and haven't taken one of these LRE courses, I really recommend that you take one. You might never need the skills you learn, but it's nice to know they're in hand, if things get sticky.
By Keith Adams
For those interested in getting behind the wheel of a new Range Rover Evoque, there are many ways of making it happen. Although Land Rover tells us that the take up of its PCP (Personal Contract Purchase) finance scheme is below the industry average of 82%, it's still very much the dominant way that people are accessing the company's cars in 2018.
With that in mind, we fired up the Parkers finance tool (also known as Christofer Lloyd, our Finance Editor) to come up with a set of numbers for our Range Rover Evoque, and then compared it with its principal rivals.
It's worth noting at this point, we're featuring the manufacturer PCP deals as quoted on their own websites. In some cases – especially Land Rover – the manufacturers claim that more competitive deals should be available if you talk to your local dealer, helping you to secure a lower monthly payment. So, as always, it pays to make calls, shop around and grab the best offer you can.
Read the Parkers guide to how to haggle on PCP car finance to make sure you get the best deal.
Evoque finance: watch your options!
Go for a three-year PCP deal with a deposit of £5,000 and a 10,000-mile-per-year allowance and the Land Rover website comes up with some interesting results. For our car, we find that the extras make a great deal of difference – around £100 per month on top of the cost of the car.
You might want to spec your Evoque without these options, as it comes in at £616 per month*. With our options – metallic paint, heated steering wheel, adaptive dampers, tinted rear windows and extended leather – this rises to an altogether less appealing £713 per month*.
With that in mind, if you want the toys, try to find a car in the dealer system that's already kitted out – and then work on that deal as hard as you can. Bear in mind that if the Evoque has already been registered and is being sold as a used car you may end up paying more per month – as used car finance can prove pricier than new car finance. So make sure to get a quote for the new car first to see which is the better deal.
How much do the Evoque's rivals cost on PCP finance?
On the same three-year PCP contract with £5,000 deposit and 10,000-mile-per-year allowance, the opposition is looking far more competitive. If you're looking for something from the Audi stable, you could pick up a Q3 2.0 TDI Black Edition Quattro for £438 per month*. The larger Audi Q5 2.0 TDI S Line Quattro at £502 per month* is still cheaper, although with 190hp it's also a fair bit slower on the road.
That's not the case for the altogether more powerful – and not much thirstier – Audi Q5 3.0 TDI S Line Quattro, which will set you back £609 per month. That's also the case for the brilliant Porsche Macan, which in standard form costs £574 per month*, while the quicker still S version comes in at £611 per month*.
Finally, let's not forget the excellent, and recently-introduced BMW X3. For £609 per month*, you can get a X3 xDrive20d M Sport, which offers slightly slower performance, and a little more car-like driving experience.
So, should you finance an Evoque by PCP?
Although on paper, the Evoque looks very expensive compared with the rivals we've chosen, we should temper this slightly with a couple of points.
Firstly, Land Rover insists that there are more competitive PCPs out there among its dealer groups – so, as we said at the top, do shop around, and use the monthly figures of these rivals as a bargaining tool against an Evoque. Remember, though, that you may be able to get lower monthly payments by shopping around for the rivals, too.
Secondly, and most importantly, is the car right for you? Bear in mind that none of the rivals chosen here will perform as well as the Evoque off-road, and being a Land Rover, it presents an altogether different image, which may be more in keeping with what you're looking for.
As always – you pays your money, you take your choice.
By Keith Adams
*Deals are correct at time of publication. Everyone’s financial circumstances are different and credit is not always available – Parkers cannot recommend a deal for you specifically. These deals are indicative examples of some packages available this week.
In my months with the Range Rover Evoque, it's fair to say that this premium SUV has certainly wormed its way into my affections. The undeniable pace you get with its 240hp diesel engine goes quite a long way to off-setting its so-so refinement and fuel consumption.
But it doesn't go all of the way. For instance, in order to pass the latest EU emissions regulations, the Evoque's diesel engine runs an AdBlue additive system, in order to keep its tailpipe emissions as clean as possible. This is a very good thing, as anyone who's walked through London on a summer's day will tell you.
On most new cars, there's an AdBlue filler alongside where you put the fuel, under the flap. But not in the case of the Evoque. Being an older design, it was launched before AdBlue had become mandatory, its filler flap is too small to accomodate two access holes beneath it. And to make that change would requite an expensive redesign on the rear wing.
So, the AdBlue filler is located under the bonnet, and it's a fiddly job to refill it. New cars editor, Adam Binnie did his level best to look dignified (above) as he poured the fluid into the receptable. I think he partially managed it.
The other issue is that it's using rather a lot of the stuff. By my reckoning, the Evoque needs 2.4 gallons of AdBlue approximately every 3,500 miles. The average cost of the fluid is about £10 per gallon, which means you'll be splashing out £24 a time if you do it yourself – which you will need to do when there's around 1,000 miles of range left.
Land Rover offers an AdBlue refill service at its dealers for £29.99, and its service plans include this for free. For many, this will seem like the most acceptable option.
It's not all bad AdBlue news, though...
I won't despair, too much, though. Land Rover's excellent InControl app (above) gives you full disclosure of the AdBlue status, and will tell you exactly how much fluid you need, and when. And it gives you plenty of warning of an impending need of a top-up.
In reality, it's a small irritation in what has been an overwhelmingly positive ownership proposition, but the cost of AdBlue needs to be added on top of our already pricy fuel bill for a true reflection of diesel running costs.
I suspect that the next Evoque, due next year, will come out of the blocks with a plug-in option. That is beginning to look very appealing indeed for the future.
By Keith Adams
In order to see how well the Range Rover Evoque fits into the life of the typical customer it's aimed at, we lent ours to Your Horse magazine editor Aimi Clark to get her feedback and experiences of our premium SUV.
Initially Aimi shared a note of caution. She said, 'with a towing capacity of 2,000kg, it’s too low for towing a pair of horses. But it would be fine for two childrens' ponies or a single horse and trailer.'
Oh, so not good, then? Not at all! 'Land Rover's vehicles are very popular with our audience, and the Evoque could be the perfect countryside accompaniment to a horse lorry,' she added. And that's why Aimi ended up taking the Evoque to Badminton Horse Trials among other events.
So, how did Aimi get along with the Evoque?
She loved it. Aimi has an HGV licence for driving a horse box, but is currently training for her towing licence, so our Evoque's lack of a towbar was hardly an issue. 'My usual car is an Audi TT, so I was expecting this to feel a lot heavier to drive – and in truth, it's been an absolute dream.'
She added: 'I like that it looks like a decent 4x4 but it doesn’t feel huge to drive. I like that it automatically goes into 4x4 mode when you off road. Plenty of space in there for saddles, tack, a few people and your dog (most horsey people have at least one dog). I got 10 bags of horse feed in there one Saturday too.'
Was there anything Aimi didn't like? 'The side of the car made checking my blind spot difficult and the boot needed a fair bit of oomph to close it. More often that not it would take two attempts to close it properly.'
Would she have an Evoque over her regular Audi TT?
Keen to find out how the Evoque's quality measures up to her Audi's, we asked the question. 'Inside, it's just as well made as my car, but the light colours and considered design make this a nicer place to spend time. I'm getting decent fuel economy from it, too.'
Trips to Badminton and the Chatsworth Horse Trials, and then several other weekend events has convinced Aimi that the Evoque is a good car to spend time with. 'I'm still keen to see how well it tows, and how effective Land Rover's towing assist systems are. But as a car to use for support events, it's been perfect for me.'
And the very best thing? 'Being able to change the pressure/where it is on your back in the seat. It was almost like a massage! Really supported the lower back and stopped me slouching — important when you’re being told to sit up tall, shoulders back, to get the best position on a horse.'
Given that her next question was 'how much does it cost to lease?', we'd say she was convinced.
You can read more from Aimi on the Your Horse blog.
There's nothing like a long trip to help you bond with your car – and after a few weeks apart from my Evoque, it's been good getting back into the driver's seat and putting miles on the clock.
This week's run was a quick spin up to Edinburgh, for nothing more exciting than a run to the airport. Although that's a routine run for me these days, it's still a long and enjoyable drive that allows the Evoque to stretch its legs, and for me to have a good play with the car's mountain of standard equipment, while enjoying the premium Meridian sound system.
Once we're into the wonderful North, and onto the magnificent M6 north of Lancaster, (taking in the obglitarory stop at Tebay services) and then on to the M74 (now, easily Britain's best motorway – I dare you to disagree), in 70mph cruise-controlled mode, the Evoque feels planted, happy and built for this motorway canter.
So, what do we like and what don't we like?
Plus points remain the excellent driving position, powerful and crisp-sounding stereo, well-designed and high quality interior that has an unerring ability to make you feel good, no matter what life throws at you. The panoramic roof (an option but well worth it) makes the light and airy interior feel less cramped than it is.
It's not perfect: I still struggle to make quick progress on its infotainment system, though, and if I were to level any negatives at it, I'd say the storage bin between the seats is too small, and the auto-dipping of the headlights is slow-witted. Long list, huh?
The interesting thing for me, is that as miles mount up, the Ingenium engine and nine-speed automatic transmission seem to be getting increasingly sweet. Does that mean it takes a long time to run in an Evoque, or that they just get better with age? It's a question I need to put to a JLR engineer sometime.
Why is it getting more economical?
Also, most importantly, ever since Your Horse editor Aimi Clark drove it (above), the fuel consumpton has markedly improved. I don't consider myself to be a heavy-footed driver, and considering most of my mileage is on reasonably quick A-roads and motorways, this has come as a bit of a shock.
From the 33.5mpg average in my hands up to the point, the test average has improved to 36.1mpg. But what's more interesting than that is that during the month that Aimi ran the Evoque, she averaged 39.7mpg. Having sat in the car with her, I can't put it down to her driving – she's not that slow.
Perhaps riding a horse on a regular basis gives you more of a gentle approach to throttle inputs? Either way, I'm baffled, and now keen to learn what I'm doing wrong! But what our experience of lending out the Evoque does prove is that sometimes there's more to an average fuel consumption than meets the eye. We'll keep you posted.
How did the Range Rover Evoque fare?
Although it's now very much in the twilight of its life, with a new Evoque set for launch in 2019, the smallest Range Rover is still a very appealing thing. In the six months we have driven and used it, everyone who spent time behind the wheel came away with a new-found respect for the Evoque. That goes a long way to explaining why it's still in demand with new- and used-car buyers, with strong resale values and a gilt-edged image seven years on from its launch.
Other points worth raising are that it never let us down thanks to a perfect reliability record (that's expected, but not always delivered with our long-term test cars), and the soft-touch, high-quality interior materials showed no signs of wear whatsoever. It also won over owners from other brands, overthrown newer rivals in head-to-head and group tests, taken us off-road, and then carried us on countless long-distance trips in total comfort. In short we really, really liked it. If only it had a decent range on a full tank of fuel, more interior storage space, and a bigger boot.
The main point of the six-month test was to test the latest version of Jaguar Land Rover's diesel engine, known as Ingenium, and assess its performance, economy and reliability. In these areas, it scores well, but not perfectly. In terms refinement, it's not bad – a little more vocal than the rival Volkswagen Group or BMW 2.0-litre diesel units, but with 240hp on tap, there's no denying it makes the Evoque a quick car.
Fuel consumption was a fairly unimpressive 33mpg at the beginning of the test, but by its end, it was happily delivering 40mpg, suggesting that the Ingenium engine loosens up with age. Its appetite for AdBlue also seemed to be on the high side, although Land Rover dealers will happily cover that service for you.
Can we recommend a Range Rover Evoque?
Yes, absolutely. As much as we love the SD4's ample performance, we'd probably dial back and go for one of the less powerful (and economical) diesel models. If buying new, try and choose a model much closer to £40k rather than the £50k ours cost. Sadly, if you're looking to go down the petrol route, Land Rover is behind the curve on this, only offering 240 and 290hp options. As for hybrids or plug-in versions, you'll need to wait for the next-generation car.
But don't worry too much about the new model – our early intel leads us to suggest that the next one will look very much like this one. There's good reason for this – the Evoque has been a massive success for Land Rover, and its maker will do everything it can to continue this momentum. That means residual values will remain strong, certainly in the short to medium term.
The Evoque's newer rivals show how far the game has moved on since 2011. For instance, the Audi Q5's engines are way more refined, while the BMW X3 drives better on-road, and a Volvo XC60 has a cooler, more modern interior. And yet, as an overall package, the Range Rover still oozes desirability and class, and is still hugely likable. It might be expensive and impractical, but it's still capable of tugging those heartstrings. Land Rover is going to have a tough job replacing it.