Range Rover Evoque pictures and hands-on

If you’ve not heard about the Range Rover Evoque before now, you’ve clearly been living under a rock for the past few weeks. In car-world terms, the media storm around the Evoque has been similar to the kind the guys in Cupertino create every time they invite the world’s media in for a chat. A few of you placed orders months ago, without setting foot behind the wheel. And the waiting list for one is months long. So let’s get down to business: is it any good? In a word, yes.

Those looks? Range Rover, but downsized and with a modern twist. This is a Gucci dress to the full Range Rover’s Barbour tweed jacket. The Evoque even wears designer specs (those distinctive LED running lights) and has a Mini-like ‘floating roof’ that you can spec in three contrast colours. Whether you think it’s cool or far too tarted-up will depend entirely on where you live (clue, if you own any land, you’ll be in the latter camp).

The interior is snug yet spacious, luxurious but modern. Those seats grip and hold you tightly and the window line’s much higher than any Range Rover before. Yet this is a brilliantly packaged car too – it might look tight in the back from the outside but it fits two six-footers in no problem. Whatever you do, don’t forgo the panoramic roof option – especially if you regularly carry people in the back – it completely changes the interior’s feel.

Kit-wise, you’ve two USB ports with full on app-based phone streaming capability, DAB radio, two 12v ports in the centre bin. If you go for one of the two higher spec Dynamic or Prestige trim levels (we’d recommend that by the way), you get a touch-screen, voice controlled Sat nav system and parking aids front and rear. Add the (£4325 option) Lux pack, and you get powered tailgate, panoramic roof, an upgraded stereo, keyless entry, park assist, an upgraded, dual-view touschreen which allows the passenger to watch TV while the driver sees the nav and – the best bit – a five camera system, which allows you to see all around the car.

This comes in particularly useful when trekking up a Scottish mountain, like the course Range Rover had set up to prove the Evoque can sign the cheques the family DNA writes. Most of you won’t care about this though, and if we’d just dropped £40k on a boutique, style-led car, we’d hardly risk fording rivers in it either. Still, nice to know the car will get you there, wherever ‘there’ might be.

On road, the Evoque’s is refined and drives well for an SUV. Range Rover wants to attract drivers currently in cars like the Audi TT to buy this next, and while it lacks the driving excitement that kind of car offers it is better than the more obvious SUV opposition - a BMW X1 for instance. Stick with the 190bhp 2.2 diesel engine and you won’t go too far wrong, it’s quick enough, reasonably economical and CO2 friendly enough for the tax not to sting. Just remember this is more a car for catching admiring glances outside Edinburgh’s new Missoni hotel than for ripping up tarmac.

And that neatly sums up the Evoque. It’s a fashion product. Many of you are sold just on the looks, others hate it for what it says. Yet to say it’s fashionable isn’t to knock it, because this is one of those products that just feels right and makes you feel great behind the wheel.

When BMW relaunched the Mini in 2001, that car had a similar impact. So too did Audi’s original TT. People said they were fashion cars; flashes in the pan whose appeal would wane with time. Yet those people were proved wrong and we suspect a similar thing will be true of Evoque. If you’re the kind of person who has to have the latest thing, then right now, this is the only car to be seen in. But if you need a practical, long term relationship then there’s a depth of quality here that we suspect will make this a great car to be in and live with over years of ownership. We’ll take ours in white please…

Want one? Let us know what you're going to sell to pay for it!