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Range Rover Evoque: arrival
Model: Range Rover Evoque SD4 Dynamic five-door
On fleet since: June 2012
Official combined mpg: 44.1 mpg
Our average economy: 28.0 mpg
Costs so far: £0
Pros: It's the car of 2012, great comfort, strong performance
Cons: Nothing noted yet, though power tailgate noisy
Why are we running a Range Rover Evoque?
When MSN cars visited the Evoque factory in Halewood earlier this year, to present the MSN Cars Car of the Year 2012 award, we were wowed by the way this boutique Range Rover had taken off.
The production line was running at full tilt, and Evoques were coming down the line with tags identifying their destination. China, France, Brazil, the US, Australia, each one a different continent. They were arriving faster than we could think of another country.
Clearly Land Rover has produced a winner, yet much of the initial adulation is based on the styling and the Victoria-Beckham related hype. Very clever of Land Rover, but we wanted to find out what the Evoque was like as an ownership proposition, not simply as something to impress your friends at the tennis club.
The reality is rather different. The Evoque is a close cousin to the Freelander, in the same way the Range Rover Sport is a re-worked Discovery.
What do you get for your money?
Which is the reason why, to some, the Evoque seems such great value for money. Or not. Depends which direction you are coming from.
Comparison with the Freelander isn't straightforward, but I reckon there's a premium of about £6k for the Evoque. A similar figure applies when compared to most other compact crossover vehicles.
You'll want to spend much more, we bet
Yet you can get into a front-wheel-drive Evoque for under £30k, which is a bargain compared with any previous Range Rover. Although you'll want to spend much more, we bet.
We picked a five-door Evoque. It's more practical, a bit roomier and, amazingly, £1000 less than the three-door, which isn't a three-door at all but a "Coupe".
It has four-wheel-drive rather than front-wheel-drive, a more powerful diesel engine, and a pricey option pack.
The base price of our Evoque SD4 Dynamic is a few pounds shy of £40k. The lovely Firenze Red metallic paint is £550 extra and the LUX pack £4,425.
For that you add a powered tailgate, 825W Meridian surround audio system, 8-inch hi-resolution display with built-in TV, a surround camera with tow-ball mounting assistance, blind sport monitoring, keyless entry, park assist, and a more advanced climate control system.
Value for money? Only you can judge. But take into account that the uprated 2.2-litre diesel engine produces 190hp, and as a result the Evoque will reach 60mph in 8 seconds dead.
Let's wind back six months to my first experience of an Evoque. I collected the keys at an airport after a late flight back to the UK, and felt instantly ensconced in luxury.
The subtle puddle lighting in the interior, the deeply comfortable seats and the easy, ready performance was exactly what was needed after a long flight.
This wasn't 4x4 motoring. It was better
This wasn't 4x4 motoring, or even junior exec Audi A4. It was much, much better. It did put the price into perspective and I suddenly understood those who felt this 45 grand Range Rover is something of a steal.
It was the more powerful diesel with 6-speed automatic transmission that was ordered up, with for comparison purposes, the petrol version delivered a few days earlier.
That car, the Evoque Si4, was a similar price and specification, but the turbo-charged four-cylinder produces a mighty 240hp. This is astonishing power from a two-litre, four-cylinder engine in any car, let alone an SUV or crossover.
And even though the Evoque weighs around 1.7 tonnes, this Si4 model simply flies, with the performance of a hot hatch but twice as much presence. Even the economy, at 25mpg+ according to the trip, seemed reasonable.
Yet most UK buyers will opt for a turbo-diesel, merely for the promise of better economy. I am not sure that really computes at the moment, for this Evoque, despite being well and truly run-in before I got my hands on it, has yet to beat 30mpg.
What next for the Evoque?
More will be revealed after the trip to the Goodwood Festival of Speed. I will get through the best apart of a tank of diesel, and the driving will be on the open road rather than in town.
I really should be taking my Lotus Elan. But the Evoque is a temptation that's hard to ignore.
Report 1: Range Rover Evoque arrival (this report)
Report 2: Range Rover Evoque month two
Report 3: Range Rover Evoque month three
Report 4: Range Rover Evoque month four
Report 5: Range Rover Evoque final report
Need to know
Performance: 0-62mph 8.0secs/121mph
Power/Torque: 190hp@3500rpm/310lb ft@1750rpm
Insurance group: 34/50
Options fitted: Metallic paint (£550), Lux Pack £4,425
Price as tested: £44,970
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