Radical SR3 SL. With over two Radical's worth of Range Rover steel to heft it's not quite as exciting as in that car but it's a strong, smooth unit paired with, on 'our' car, a six-speed automatic controlled via paddles or the Jag-style rotary selector.
More or less the same as the car Dale took to the Nurburgring back in the depths of winter in other words, Dynamic spec meaning ours gets all the toys, including Adaptive Dynamics with Magnaride adjustable dampers. And a price tag well north of £40K.
VW Golf GTI. That may horrify some PHers of a more militant anti-bling, anti-SUV mindset but, especially with this engine, Range Rover has gone to some trouble to make the Evoque fun to drive as well as good to be seen in. That debate can run and run and we'll be exploring the theme in more depth but, for now, let's take a more objective look at the car we'll be running for the next few months...
The Evoque is shamelessly about style over content. It's not especially practical for its size, you can't really see out of it without the aid of cameras and sensors pointing every which way out of it. But since when did a 4x4 with hot hatch pretensions make any sense to anyone? And yet it carries it off through sheer chutzpah.
As a result it's one of those feel-good cars that, good sense be damned, just seems able to lift your mood. The first drive in a new car should be a joyous voyage of discovery as you fiddle around and satisfy that childlike 'what does that button do?' curiosity. No such luxuries for the Evoque - I was running late, just had to get home and had the nightly bumper-to-bumper trundle along the M25 to look forward to. Get in and go, no airs and graces.
And in this context it impressed immediately. The punchy Merdian stereo with DAB meant I could sit there with 6Music blasting away, the easily paired Bluetooth phone interface was crystal clear and easy to use and, even if I couldn't see anything behind or to the sides, at least the panoramic roof made it feel light and airy and a plane-spotter's delight in the predictable jam alongside Heathrow! And that assured sense of style works as well inside as it does out. This is the opposite of the car as an appliance and justification for its presence here at PH. There's a ton of kit on this car too, some useful, some in the pointless gadget category and mostly controlled via the occasionally fiddly touchscreen interface.
Audi SQ5and BMW X3 xDrive35d? Charisma and charm will only get you so far in the face of firepower like that.
Right fuel, wrong fuel
On the face of it 'old tech' like a torque convertor auto might seem a further compromise but the Range Rover boys have obviously been sharing intel with their colleagues from Jaguar in the canteen and, if not dual-clutch sharp, there's nothing slushy about the way this transmission responds to 'Command Shift' paddle overrides. Which I've been using extensively to keep it from kicking down too much on the motorway in an attempt to save fuel. It would appear very sensitive to the kind of driving you do though. I've been matching the high 20s, low 30s delivered by the Golf. Garlick, however, is barely scraping into the teens on a more urban commute. We'll be watching this closely going forwards.
Car: 2012 Range Rover Evoque Si4 Coupe
Run by: Dan
On fleet since: July 2012
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: Just delivered!
Rig photography by Pete Spinney