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Car reviews - Land Rover - Range Rover Evoque - Si4 Prestige

Our Opinion

We like
Easy to fit a child seat and load/unload the child, handling, exterior styling, interior ambience, technology
Room for improvement
Access to rear hindered by silly and slow electric system for moving front seats, petrol consumption, price can balloon with the addition of options

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Land Rover logo23 Mar 2012

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI and MIKE COSTELLO

VISITING from Land Rover’s (and your correspondent’s) native UK, a super hero-obsessed 2.5 year-old nephew was enrolled to help test the Evoque ‘Batmobile’ against a BMW X6.

If you think comparing the baby Range Rover against the larger, more expensive but similarly genre-bending X6 is a bit strange, consider that our test car was so packed with optional extras the price gap was significantly narrowed between it and the entry-level $109,900 X6 30d we also drove.

The Evoque Si4 Prestige with automatic transmission has a base price of $75,895 but adding the tech pack, Meridian sound system, keyless entry, digital television, cold climate pack, metallic paint, dual-view touch screen, park assist, surround camera system and rear privacy glass brought the total to $98,759.

All those options mean Batmobile-like levels of technology, with the dual-view screen, digital TV with wireless headphones scoring gadget points while the self-parking system and all-round cameras made up for the Evoque’s poor visibility when negotiating tight spaces.

Any Evoque is a special-feeling place to be and even more so in plush Prestige spec.

Despite its size and price difference compared to larger Range Rovers, it feels every bit a part of the family and exudes luxury, especially with all the technology fitted to our test vehicle.

Broad and comfortable seats, a dashboard and centre console of leather and brushed aluminium, instrument dials that glisten like a Rolex, a rotary gear selector that rises to greet the driver on start-up – the British certainly know a thing or two about styling a feel-good interior.

First things first in the child test: we found installing and securing the child seat far easier in the three-door Evoque than in the larger, more spacious X6. One-nil to the Range Rover.

Once we had completed the daft and frustratingly slow procedure of electrically moving the Evoque coupe’s front seats forward after they had been manually tilted, access for reaching into the rear quarters for installing and buckling up the child was surprisingly easy, as was stepping over the curved sill and crouching behind the folded front seat to fasten the straps – try that in any five-door.

The Evoque’s low ride height compared with the X6 meant less lifting and a more natural manoeuvre for placing the youngster into his seat. Britain two, Germany nil.

However, we remain concerned that the slow method of moving the Evoque’s front seats could prove quite dangerous in an emergency when exiting the vehicle in a hurry is required, especially if said emergency has caused the car’s electrics to fail. The five-door X6 scores here, then. Two-one.

During the launch we wondered whether the Evoque’s high window line would cause children to get car sick due to an obstructed view out. Usefully for this test our car was upholstered in wipe-clean leather – especially as our planned route included some twisty, undulating roads and we had every intention of enjoying the Evoque’s athletic abilities.

Giving the Evoque a good flog on these roads the nephew remained awake (he fell asleep in the X6 but who can predict someone else’s child’s sleeping behaviour) and commented, “this Batmobile is a bit wobbly” but confirmed he felt OK. “It’s a bit scary but I like it,” he said. We know of motoring scribes with weaker stomachs.

Compared with the imperious but impressive X6, which feels as though it is beating the laws of physics into submission, the much lighter Evoque feels nimble by comparison, and a lot more fun at legal speeds. Motherland: three, Fatherland: one.

Further proving the Evoque’s practicality, it swallowed a boot full of child’s paraphernalia for the trip and later, easily accommodated a full load of adults for a trip into town.

We recommend specifying the no-cost optional central seat (and seatbelt) in the rear on the coupe model as while the Evoque’s wide body provides plenty of room and comfort for an adult in the middle with the two-seat setup, it is illegal to drive with them there, limiting the car’s practicality for little return in the way of interior ambience.

For the record, the X6 also comes as standard with two individual rear seats and can be specified with a bench. We’ll call that round a dead heat given the Evoque’s compact dimensions.

After complaining of the Evoque’s ride quality at the launch, we expected to have our teeth rattled out driving on Melbourne’s tram track-riddled highways but were pleasantly surprised, especially as our test car was the same vehicle we drove first on the launch.

We are not sure whether the apparent improvement is down to tyre pressures or the suspension loosening up with use but we suspect Victoria’s roads are in better condition than in NSW – there are certainly fewer potholes in the city not as many patchwork surface repairs on country roads.

The Evoque remains pretty exclusive in Australia as initial supplies trickle in from the busy UK factory that is doing all it can to meet huge world-wide demand and driving the car around Melbourne’s fashionable inner suburbs elicited a reaction from the public akin to travelling in something far more expensive and exotic.

People would point and shout, smartphones and cameras appeared from pockets (a passenger in a Benz E-class convertible even hung out of the window to take a snap) and friends begged us to come around for a show and tell.

Such is the desirability of the Evoque, GoAuto knows of one Porsche Cayenne Turbo-owning businessman who considered trading in his car for an Evoque.

In the end the Rangie’s four-cylinder engine line-up didn’t have the muscle he had become accustomed to, but most people will find the Si4’s available power – and the smooth delivery thereof – more than enough.

Under the bonnet of our test car was a Ford-sourced 177kW/340Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine, similar to the one that will soon power the Falcon Ecoboost.

Its linear power delivery and eagerness to rev makes it feel like a six-cylinder but it makes a distinctive and pleasing four-pot growl under hard acceleration and is well matched to the six-speed automatic transmission.

In mixed driving we achieved fuel consumption between 12 and 13 litres per 100 kilometres, way above the claimed 8.7L/100km on the combined cycle and even when trying hard to drive economically during a mixture of country and suburban driving, we struggled to get it to consume less than 11L/100km.

In similar conditions the more powerful, far torquier and heavier X6 30d got far closer to its claimed average of 7.4L/100km – four-two.

This being one of the launch cars we drove, we were not expecting our concerns about quality to be allayed.

A rattle we noticed on the launch had been rectified by the time we were reunited with this Evoque, but during our week with it the cover for the ceiling-mounted wireless headphone transmitter fell off.

Despite this, we remained impressed with the Evoque and we have no doubt the car has the substance to sustain its initial charm well beyond the purchaser’s honeymoon period.

What’s more, thanks to our courageous child tester, fashion-conscious mums and dads can breathe a sigh of relief knowing it’s not impossible to live with the extra stylish coupe body.

However if the head is allowed to rule the heart, never fear as ease of use and a cost saving is to be had with the five-door, which drives just as well and has even more head and shoulder room in the back. Some even prefer its less squashed-looking rear proportions.

Land Rover believes most customers will go for the 2.4-litre diesel SD4 engine variant, which is down on power compared with the petrol but makes up for it with a decent slab of torque – and of course far better fuel economy.

Unless you have a really good reason for choosing the petrol, our test proved the SD4 remains pick of the bunch and its fuel efficiency brings the extra benefit of slipping below the luxury car tax threshold, meaning those options don’t attract the levy unless you go wild ticking boxes on the order form.

So we cannot fail to recommend the Range Rover Evoque and urge you to consider it before committing to something larger.

The planet (and your children’s children) will thank you for it – especially if you go for the diesel.

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