I love the Evoque's looks but should I be worried about unreliability and a small boot? We put the baby Range Rover to the test
I currently have a nine-year old Mazda 6 that's very economical, comfortable and reliable. But most importantly it's a car I really like.
Unfortunately, it's starting to get long in the tooth, so I'm thinking about replacing it with an SUV that would provide a better view of the road ahead. My wife and I will be covering a lot of miles on holidays so a replacement needs to offer extended reliability and good fuel economy.
With an SUV in mind, I've taken a shine to the Range Rover Evoque, but am aware of some reported shortcomings, like a relatively small boot and poor rear visibility.
My neighbour has one and, until recently, claimed it was very reliable and extremely efficient. But in the last couple of months he's had an issue with the electronics that put the car off the road for several days.
Having had Land Rovers in the past — all of which suffered from electrical gremlins — and concerns about a lack of practicality, now I'm unsure if this is the car for me. A.D via email
Evoking concerns: Our reader isn't entirely sold on the Range Rover Evoque, despite being suckered in by the concept-like design. We try to address the three main worries and give our verdict on the compact SUV
What you need to know about the Range Rover Evoque
The birth of the Evoque has epitomised the sensational rejuvenation of the Land Rover brand since Indian giants Tata took ownership in 2008.
In fact, the baby of the Range Rover line-up is so popular the assembly line can barely keep up with demand.
When it launched in 2011, it did so in a whirlwind of excitement — it was the first time we knew an SUV could be genuinely pretty, leading to more than a quarter of a million being sold worldwide in the first three years. And the fan club has been expanding ever since.
Now, with the car overdue a refresh after almost five years on the market, Land Rover has opted to steer away from wholesale changes to a package that's already much-loved, instead listening to what owners had to say about their cars when making tweaks to the Model Year 16 update that we drove.
From the outside it is almost undetectable from the original, with slight tweaks to the bumpers and grille and oval lamps replaced by straight-edged replacements with LEDs front and back. Minimal, we know.
But the most significant update come under the bonnet. On the back of owner 'feedback' regarding the grumbly and thirsty 2.2-litre diesel unit, Land Rover has replaced it with the 2.0-litre motor from the brand new Discovery Sport in an attempt to boost refinement and efficiency.
Two power outputs are available - 148bhp or 178bhp - while the 236bhp 2.0-litre petrol motor remains as the alternative.
You can still also decide between the traditional five-door version or side-stepping practicality altogether with the three-door coupe version.
Style over substance: Few will argue that the Evoque is a handsome car. The five-door model might not have the drama of the coupe, but it's a whole lot more practical
The Evoque hit the market in 2011 and Land Rover sold 82,794 examples in the UK by the end of last year
Addressing Evoque concerns from the get-go
You said that you are worried about a couple of things, visibility, boot size and electrical gremlins. We will tackle those here.
First and foremost, the Evoque is substantially smaller than the full-size Range Rover, so you have to bear this in mind when looking at the boot dimensions.
Think of it more as a jacked up family hatchback, like a Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra, than a full-fat terrain-tackling off-roader.
ON TEST: RANGE ROVER EVOQUE 2.0 TD4 HSE DYNAMIC LUX AWD 5DR
On sale: Now
Price (standard): £47,800
Test car with options: £51,650
Options include: Contrast Painted Roof with Matching Spoiler (£500), Privacy Glass (£350), Head Up Display (£1,000), Black Pack (£2,000)
Engine: 2.0 litre TD4 'Ingenium' Diesel
Torque: 230Nm at 1,500rpm
Transmission: 9-spd automatic
Kerb weight: 1690kg
Top speed: 121mph
Fuel economy: 55.3mpg (combined)
CO2/VED tax band: 134g/km, VED band E
When you compare the Range's boot to rival compact SUVs, it doesn't stack-up all that bad.
ADAC, German's version of the AA, undertakes its own boot-space measurements based on the area you can feasibly use, only quoting on the available space up to the underside of the parcel shelf/cover — you want to see what's behind you, don't you?
In these tests, the Evoque's 300-litres of space is on par with the Audi A3 and Mercedes GLA compact SUVs, However, it's some way short of the BMW X1 and Porsche Macan's 265-litre compartments — the difference being the equivalent of a medium-size suitcase.
As for the rear visibility, the high-positioned letterbox-style rear window is far from ideal, especially if you're backing-up towards something low to the ground that disappears pretty quickly as you close-in tailgate first.
Visibility is even worse in the three-door model.
With the underside of the rear windows scaling up the rear doors and the roof stooping down to achieve the coupe look, the design pinches most of the rear three-quarter view.
It makes over-the-shoulder checks before lane changes trickier than they should be.
Fortunately, even basic SE models come with front and rear parking sensors and a lane departure warning system as standard, though you'll have to move up to the mid-spec HSE Dynamic (a £7,700 premium over SE) to have a reversing camera equipped.
Only the range-topping models (HSE Dynamic Lux and Autobiography) have the Park Assist feature. It's a great asset if you're panicked by parallel parking - the system measures the sizes of the space available and steers the car into the spot for you, though you do have to control the throttle during the process.
If boot space and visibility are real issues for you, then consider the boxier-shaped Land Rover Discovery Sport instead.
We drove the Discovery Sport with the same engine and gearbox combination and found the squarer corners of the car provide a more practical load area, once you fold the third-row seats flat. and improves visibility.
The rear windows are deeper than those in the Evoque and the longer suspension travel means a higher driving position, giving you a better command of the road.
As for reliability, it looks like Land Rover is taking steps in the right direction to improve the infamous dependability track record the brand has been tarnished with, but it's a long way from being out of the woods just yet.
In the Auto Express Driver Power Survey of 200 of the most popular cars on the road, the Evoque was ranked in 151st place for reliability.
And based on the response of 161 owners in the Which? Car Survey last year, 13 per cent said their baby Range Rover had suffered from a non-engine electrical fault in the previous 12 months. Another nine per cent reported engine electric issues, too.
Any Land Rover-product buyer still has a right to be concerned, though the problems appear less catastrophic than they were in the past.
A large family car, like an Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series, will have a bigger boot, but the Evoque compares okay with other compact SUV rivals
Consider the Land Rover Discovery Sport: A more utilitarian approach means visibility and boot space is better than that offered by the Evoque
What's it like in town?
While this updated version has done little to better the visibility or boot space on offer, improvements have been made to the ride comfort at low speeds.
This is thanks to revised rear suspension bushes that lessen the blow of potholes and speed bumps, even with the 20 inch alloy wheels fitted to our test car.
Unchanged is the slight awkwardness for a reasonable height adult of getting comfortable in the back thanks to that low-slung roofline, though the five-door is far easier than the coupe.
After waiting a small eternity for the electrically-adjustable front seats to shift forwards, you'd need the grace of an Olympic-medal-winning gymnast to squeeze into the back of the three-door.
Little has been done to tweak the steering attributes either, but there were few complaints in this department to begin with.
The steering is light enough for easy maneuverability in town but still retains a weighty and connected feel to the front wheels. Even the turning circle isn't overly massive for a car with bulky SUV proportions.
Our only other slight issue is with the nine-speed automatic transmission. It's sometimes caught dumbfounded when negotiating stop-start traffic, unsure of which gear you're gagging for it to select as your grip the steering wheel in frustration. Gear shifts become more clinical with speed.
The Evoque copes well with city living, thanks to light steering and a pothole-absorbing suspension setup
Getting in and out of the back is easier in rival cars, but once seated you're treated to a well-finished cabin with plenty of luxuries
What's it like on the motorway?
There's a marked step-up in refinement thanks to the new 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, which remedies the most infuriating characteristic of the first-launched car.
That's because the outgoing 2.2-litre motor powering the Evoque was a stark contradiction to the rest of the car.
Impressions of luxury and style filtered to your eyes by the sculpted exterior and well-finished cabin was soon forgotten the moment you pressed the ignition button — the rumbling tone and shudder produced by the juddering engine soon switched your mindset from top-end motor to turbulent tractor.
However, the new 'Ingenium' engine has addressed this flaw effectively. It produces a much lower hum at all speeds and is quiet enough to have a full-blown chat with the rear occupants without having to raise your voice (unless you really want to) even when cruising at 70mph.
Comfort is also bettered with the addition of Land Rover's adaptive magnetic MagneRide dampers as standard. The M25 tarmac feels more like a cloud of silk as a result.
Away from the motorways and onto twisting B-roads, the Evoque initially impresses and then quickly reminds hauls you back to reality.
Like it always has done, the initial response to steering input is instant — almost hot-hatch like in the way it pitches the nose into a bend — but the limitations of weight and a high centre of gravity causes the car understeer with little hesitation if you're cornering too enthusiastically.
Rendered refined: While the outgoing 2.2-litre diesel engine was raucous, the new 2.0-litre replacement is much smoother
All Evoques now have MagneRide dampers as standard - the compact SUV glides on flat motorway surfaces as a result
Range Rover Evoque pub fact
This is no Chelsea tractor; it's actually an eco warrior, sort of.
That's because there's 16kg of recycled plastic in every Evoque, Land Rover claims. The material is used for the wheelarch liners and engine covers while the headliner is made from 100% recycled polyester.
Altogether, there are 21kg of natural and renewable materials in the car.
Which one should you buy?
If you're happy with a manual gearshift and you're not doing any off-roading, the lesser-powered eTD4 148bhp version offers a better blend of performance and economical running costs than he 178bhp motor we tested.
It only takes half a second longer to hit 62mph from a standing start than the gruntier version but, with 113g/km CO2 emissions and 65.7mpg claims, is much more efficient.
Unfortunately, the highest spec for this engine is the second of five tiers, SE Tech. The biggest reason to step-up to this grade is the factory-fitted sat-nav, though you also get a heated front windscreen and window washers and the updated Xenon and LED light clusters with the addition of fog lights.
If you want all-wheel drive and an auto, a mid-spec HSE Dynamic 2.0 TD4 is the one most will be hunting for when it comes time to sell.
Land Rover reliability had seemingly driven off the edge of a cliff by the turn of the century, but Tata's ownership has seen the brand striving to return to dependability to dry land
Badge power: The Land Rover tag helps the Evoque outperform its closest rivals (at this price point) in terms of depreciation
The Cars & motoring verdict
If, like our reader, you feel compelled to buy the Evoque, be comfortable in the knowledge that the smallest Range Rover is better than it has even been.
The biggest improvement is the arguably the most important component — the engine. The boost to refinement doesn't just make the Evoque more comfortable, it completes the image of the car rather than contradicts it, as the 2.2-litre motor did.
The remaining tweaks, thought relatively minor, add that extra blush to what is an already sought-after car. The mere fact 83,000 have been bought in the UK alone should tell you something.
But just as inspiring is the level of demand on the second-hand market. While an equivalent mid-spec diesel Audi Q3, BMW X1 or Mercedes-Benz GLA will retain 53-54 per cent of their original value when it comes time to sell after three years (or 30,000 miles), the Evoque holds an incredible 62 per cent of its original price. Only the exceptional 70 per cent value retention of the Porsche Macan S Diesel betters it in this sector.
However, despite all these positives, should you still be worried about reliability? Yes, based on what the dependability surveys say so far, but certainly not enough for it to put you off buying one.
The biggest respect we can pay the Evoque is that it feels just like a baby Range Rover. And, let's face it, that car is no small success story.
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