Monday 8th October 2012


PH FLEET: RANGE ROVER EVOQUE

So, the element of surprise has passed - what about the delight bit?


We've been writing a lot about grown-up Range Rovers recently on PH. We've said farewell to the outgoing L322. Hello to the new L405. Even celebrated a classic one as Shed Of The Week. And apparently ignored the one we've actually been running. Er, sorry about that.

The Evoque gatecrashes the Olympic time trial...
The Evoque gatecrashes the Olympic time trial...
There are mitigating factors for the lack of coverage that I won't bore you with now but the Evoque has been plenty busy and forging something of a reputation for itself as a gatecrasher of large international events that happen to have been staged close to PH towers.

First of these was some little sporting gathering called the Olympics. With Mr Wiggins and those chasing him for gold in the cycling time trial due to pass pretty much right past the office the choice was to stay at home and watch it on telly (sorry Stuart, work from home I meant to say...) or get up stupidly early to get into the office before the roads were closed. Being a bit of a cycling fan and keen to cheer Wiggins on I chose the latter and grabbed the opportunity to get a cheeky pic of the Evoque on the course minutes before the cordons went down.

...and the new Range Rover launch too
...and the new Range Rover launch too
As well as joining me to cheer Wiggins on (complete with a PH flag) Mr Garlick has been enjoying the Evoque's charms too, or at least was until a deflating experience with the nearside rear tyre. The can of goo and compressor in the boot got him home but didn't endear him to the guys at KwikFit, who explained the stuff makes it hard to repair tyres. They didn't have the necessary 245/45R20 Continental in stock at the Kingston branch either, the last in the company thankfully just down the road in Surbiton and fitted, done and dusted for a not inconsiderable 320. That'll be the Bling tax right there.

Back up and running the Evoque's on-brand status meant I managed to sneak right up to the door of the launch for the 'proper' Range Rover taking place in nearby Richmond Park. A slightly startled security guy asked me how the hell I'd managed to get all the way up to the event rather than use the shuttle bus everyone else was on, the combination of vehicle pass and Range Rover badges obviously carrying more weight than they were meant to.

New tyre cost a hearty 320
New tyre cost a hearty 320
But what of the Evoque itself? The thirst (high 20s for my motorway run, high teens for Garlick's urban one) is an ongoing concern, offset by the surprising sprightliness for a car of such heft and apparently unfavourable weight distribution. True, it's hardly what you'd call flickable or light on its feet but the JLR chassis boys sure know a thing or two about control weighting and feel and if you're of the mindset that making progress is about maintaining speed rather than constantly trying to scrub it off and then build it back up again the Evoque is happy to play your game. So long as you avoid the 'Dynamic' setting on the suspension. Which is just bone shakingly awful.

That feelgood factor just continues to, well, make me feel good too. The novelty of the looks hasn't waned a bit, the fun stuff like the Evoque outline in the puddle lights indicative of self confidence that just sweeps you along. People love it too, even those, myself included, who wouldn't have themselves down as the SUV type. "It's not my kind of thing but I like what they've done..." is a common sentiment. Maybe it's that post-Olympic national pride, or the news of 24-hour shifts to keep up with demand but I just feel immensely proud of the Evoque's contribution to UK PLC.

On-message shopping, off-message swearing
On-message shopping, off-message swearing
It's not without niggles, mind. Chief among them the powered tailgate. I know it's a popular feature for SUVs and, ah, the target audience who often can't reach the bootlid to pull it shut. But it takes an age to open and shut and unless all your stuff is at least a foot away from the sill has a big huff, almost shuts, bleeps in alarm and then grindingly starts opening again. Last time I argued with this process on a Range Rover Sport the angry shove to force it shut ended up ripping the strut off the bootlid. So I'm keeping my hands to myself and resorting to verbal violence instead, which doesn't go down very well in polite society, AKA Waitrose car park.

So life is generally good with the Evoque. But to test the theory of whether or not a Freelander offers a similar vibe but in a more honest, no-nonsense and practical package we're going to try one of those for a bit too. More on this in due course.


FACT SHEET
Car:
2012 Range Rover Evoque Si4 Coupe
Run by: Dan (and Garlick, on occasion!)
On fleet since: July 2012
Mileage: 4,725
List price new: 46,475 (Basic list of 40,995 plus 550 for Mauritius Blue metallic paint, 200 for leather, 305 for xenon lights and 4,425 for Lux Pack comprising powered tailgate, panoramic roof, Meridian audio, TV, surround camera system, blind spot monitor, keyless entry and Park Assist)
Last month at a glance: Going places it shouldn't, mainly. And getting an expensive puncture.

Previous reports:
Love it or loathe it the Evoque is an interesting car

Author: Dan Trent
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