The Range Rover Evoque is about beauty, not all about beauty, but beauty above and beyond the offroad and traction capability that Land Rover is known for.
Evoque can be a three-door, a five-door, or a remarkable two-door convertible. All come with all-wheel drive.
Evoque doesn’t have any direct competitors due to its small size and luxury trim. Evoque’s competitors might include the Infiniti QX50, BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC, but it can work harder than them, while looking like a chopped and channeled hot rod that flew half a century into the future. It’s definitely dramatic.
The sole engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder making 240 horsepower, mated to a 9-speed automatic. The engine is punchy, which is good, and sounds a bit coarse, and we’re not sure if that’s good or bad. Since the Evoque is relatively light at 3600 pounds, it feels nimble for a Range Rover.
Evoque comes standard with what Land Rover calls Active Driveline, with active differentials and torque vectoring. The system decouples the rear wheels above 22 mph, and re-couples them within 300 milliseconds whenever drive is needed from the rear. For rugged terrain, All-Terrain Progress Control makes the vehicle crawl at any slow speed the driver sets, so the driver can focus on steering around rocks or trees or whatever. The all-wheel-drive system also includes hill descent control and trailer stability assist.
EPA-rate fuel Mileage is 21 mpg City, 29 Highway, 24 Combined. The convertible gets 1 mpg less because of its extra weight. Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has crash-tested the Evoque.
Range Rover Evoque models are SE, SE Premium, SE Dynamic, HSE, and HSE Dynamic.
Range Rover Evoque SE comes standard with leather upholstery; navigation; automatic climate control; 12-way power front seats; front and rear parking sensors; 18-inch wheels. SE Premium models add LED accent lighting; a gesture-operated tailgate; and driver’s seat memory; and the InControl Touch Plus infotainment system, with an 8.0-inch touchscreen.
The Evoque HSE brings Oxford leather seats; heated front seats; a fixed panoramic glass sunroof; automatic high beams; and blind-spot monitors.
Dynamic models get a special Dynamic Mode for the Adaptive Dynamics system, and are distinguished by illuminated tread plates, bright exhaust finishers, a rear spoiler, and a perforated leather steering wheel.
Available equipment includes forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, a mode that lets the Evoque follow the vehicle ahead in stop-and-go traffic, and adaptive cruise control. Also an 825-watt Meridian audio system; keyless ignition; a surround-view camera system; and a heated windshield and steering wheel.
The lower half of the Evoque displays the blunt styling of an SUV, and in the middle it’s crisply folded into the thin, pulled-back look of a sedan or coupe by the time it gets to the roof. It’s angular and whiffs of high fashion. Except the grille, which gets the roobar treatment. Powerful wheel arches ride under a linear beltline and angular roofline. The greenhouse narrows at the rear, a striking effect emphasized by black pillars lost over a high windowline. It wraps to a bobbed and canted rear deck with glittery taillamps.
The cabin is sleek but simple, and richly detailed. A number of interesting interior trims are available, from cool metallic to warm wood. The shapes and cues all say Range Rover. Ambient LED lighting turns red to let you know you’re in Sport mode.
The front seats are handsome in their standard leather trim, comfortable and fairly well bolstered. Most Evoque models have a sunroof, which cuts into headroom. If you want a massage, buy the option and you can get one without ever leaving the comfort of your car.
The front seats are roomy, but the rear seats are barely adequate. It’s hard to climb into the back seats of the three-door model, even worse to try to climb into the back of the convertible.
Storage cubbies are strong; there’s a large center console with cupholders under a sliding top, a reasonably roomy glove box, door-panel pockets, and a relatively deep bin below the armrest.
Land Rover’s latest infotainment system is a massive upgrade from its prior setup, but it’s not without some sluggish responses.
Cargo space is okay, keeping in mind this is a compact. The three-door has 19 cubic feet behind the rear seats, which expands to nearly 48 cubic feet when they’re folded flat. The five-door has more, with 20 cubic feet when the rear is raised, and 51 when it’s not.
The stylish high rear deck destroys rearward vision, so the optional surround-view camera is a good idea, to supplement the rearview camera.
The Evoque moves quickly and confidently, behind its solid powertrain. The 9-speed transmission is shared with other manufacturers that haven’t calibrated their versions as well; in the Evoque it shifts smoothly, skipping the hesitation we’ve found in other cars with the same unit, though we don’t love it. The transmission helps with the fuel mileage, with those tall top gears.
The engine is flexible with heaps of turbo torque at low revs. It’s good in slow city traffic and high-speed passing, not to mention trails. However under hard acceleration it’s coarse, having more noise and vibration than it should, as a high-priced Range Rover.
Its handling makes it feel like a car. It’s nimble and balanced, with electric power steering that responds to light, crisp inputs, as does its independent suspension; so keep an eye out for the light, crisp bumps. With the Dynamic package, adaptive magnetic dampers offer improved ride quality and body control. The torque-vectoring system reduces understeer in hard corners.
For trail riding, the short overhangs and good ground clearance enable the Evoque to ride over obstacles. We got some seat time offroad, and the Evoque did as much as any other compact crossover we’ve driven. For the most part, the Evoque has the off-road ability owners seek. The standard Terrain Response system has Normal, Snow, Mud & Ruts, and Sand modes.
Range Rover Evoque has a good powertrain, with the turbo four and 9-speed. The interior is beautiful from the roomy front seats, but utility is compromised for the sake of beauty. The five-door offers the best utility, the coupe is sporty, the convertible is fun.
Sam Moses contributed to this report.