Thursday 15th November 2012


The style versus content debate further inflamed with a back to back Freelander comparison...

So Range Rover needed the Evoque back. And in its place loaned us a Freelander to keep us rolling. And if perhaps more Mumsnet than PH it at least offers an interesting comparison. Because if the Evoque is, as we’ve said on more than one occasion, style over content the Freelander on which it is based is surely the opposite.

Splish-splash ... crunch ... oops!
Splish-splash ... crunch ... oops!
Does it pass the all-important PistonHeads ‘fit for purpose’ credibility test though? Erm... If you NEED a truly unpretentious family car with 4x4 ability then it seems PHers would be happier with something like an old-shape Subaru Forester or a Dacia Duster, in back to basics black-bumpered spec preferably. It may not wear its heart on its sleeve like the Evoque but the Freelander is still an expensive car and, admittedly here in pre-MY13 facelift form, feels like an old one too. Which goes to show quite how big a leap the Evoque has made.

Quality, style and the sheer wealth of modern toys loaded onto the Evoque make it feel like a car from a different age though – it’s an iPhone to your old Nokia. And likewise a slightly fussy and irritating one at times, it has to be said. Some of the kit is handy, some of it gimmicky and some of it downright annoying. Electric handbrakes are a pet hate, the one on the Evoque inconsistent in its auto release behaviour, consistent in its ability to turn the air blue as a result.

Need better visibility? Get one of these
Need better visibility? Get one of these
No such fuss on the Freelander – a big handle you yank when required. Joy! Similarly a boot where you can pack stuff up to the sill and squash into place with a hearty slam – no 30-second wait as it grinds down, squeals an alarm and then inexorably starts to open again of its own accord. I feel empowered!

Some of the stuff on the Evoque – the endless sensors, cameras and the fun but spooky automated parking – are handy but only really necessary because of the inherently appalling visibility. I was lucky enough to have a punt in the IED-proof Ocelot armoured vehicle a while back and you could see more out of that.

Pushy sense of self-importance and invulnerability, appalling visibility … yeah, you can see where that stereotype is going can’t you. Suffice to say, having experienced both sides of the equation Evoques are up there with bendy buses, white vans and Addison Lee taxis on my hazard awareness list for urban cycling – if ever a car had SMIDSY written all over it the Evoque is it.

Bit of light off-roading ticked that box
Bit of light off-roading ticked that box
With the departure date looming I thought I’d better at least have a punt off-road in the Evoque and, though it gets stuck in and is pretty game at hauling itself out of the clag, it’s definitely style over content in this environment and hampered by a lack of ground clearance and lots of vulnerable low hanging plastic trim. Er, sorry about that Range Rover…  Still, I couldn’t send it back clean could I.

This being the concluding chapter in our time with the Evoque what’s to say? Well, it’s clearly a car that continues to divide PH opinion but, in my book, an ability to provoke debate is preferable to indifference. I have enjoyed my time with it and the feelgood stuff really does … make you feel good. It’s a car that can enliven even a dull commute round the M25 by sheer force of character and bravado, something a more functional car like its Freelander brother just can’t do. It has its irritations and, frankly, though the turbocharged petrol is suitably feisty and satisfying to drive you’d have to be militantly anti-derv and prepared to commit residuals hari kari to not take the sensible route and go for a diesel.

Personally I’ve kind of come full circle. It’s (still) not my kind of car but I’m glad it exists and the world is a more interesting place for it. There are so many boring cars about I’ll defend the Evoque to the hilt, a bit of national pride about its contribution to GB PLC a bit of icing on the cake.

 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: Attempted to go off-roading, didn’t go so well

Previous reports:
Love it or loathe it the Evoque is an interesting car
The element of surprise has passed, what about the delight?


Author: Dan Trent
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