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I was fortunate to be invited to test drive the new Evoque on August 6th through Land Rover Encino.
(I am actually on the wait list at Land Rover Mission Viejo but will be out of the US on a business trip to Europe when they hold their event on Sept 6th)

There were 3 vehicles present:

- a White 5-door Prestige
- a Red 5 door Pure
- a Green 3-door Dynamic

These (pre-production) vehicles are conducting similar test events throughout the Western US (through all carried NJ Tags)

First Impressions
I had done my research online and realized that the exterior dimensions are about that of a VW Tiguan, but upon seeing it in the flesh, it looks  lot more substantial. This carries through to the interior which is surprisingly spacious and helped greatly by the glass sunroof running the full length of the vehicle, giving the cabin a light airy feel.

I have a long body and was I little concerned about headroom but I need not have worried, as there was ample vertical clearance even in the back seats (though the 3-door is a little less accomodating). Leg room in the back is good, but not great, though occupiers of the middle seat will have to contend with the hump of the transmission tunnel as in the RR Sport.

The interior of the Prestige (Pictured) is excellent and the quality of the leather and the other materials is first class. There is a noticeable difference between this and the Pure that I drove, but it is still pretty nice. The dash and controls are thoughtfully laid out and though there are a lot of buttons, it is not too intimidating. The touch screen is very responsive and I connected my iPhone with ease and the audio streaming capability worked well, though to get the most out of the iPod/iPhone integration you will have to connect it using a cable to the port in the center console.

Bad news is that I was told that Land Rover with not be shipping cars with the nifty dual view screen that can show the driver the navigation display while the front passenger watches a DVD. This due to varying regulations regarding this in the US. Trunk space is average, but pretty accommodating when you consider the aforementioned exterior dimensions of the vehicle.

The Drive
I drove the Red 5-door Pure for about 30 mins and I must say I was very impressed. Steering feedback is excellent and ride as firm yet extremely comfortable. The driving position affords excellent visibility but is much more car like than the RR of RR Sport, though rear visibility is inevitably comprised by the sweeping lines of the exterior.

I was told by the person responsible for driving these cars around to each event that they were averaging around 30mpg and I can well believe it.

I am leaning towards a Dynamic as this is only model with the Adaptive Dynamics (Magneride) as an option and I was told by those who drove the 3-door Dynamic that the ride was like that of a sports car, but that may not be everyone's cup of tea.

Despite using a Ford sourced 4 cylinder 2 liter unit, there was plenty of power without any noticeable turbo lag from the twin turbochargers, though to fair I did not push it too hard :). Gear changes were pretty good, so much so I forgot to try out the paddle shifter (especially when I put it Sport mode on the rotary selector)

The Bottom Line
I like Land Rover as a brand and think this is the best RR ever. I have thought about the RR Sport in the past but was put off by the lack of fuel economy. I was worried that the Evoque might be a little small (and I will be for some people that would plump for a full size SUV) but it is bigger that the dimensions suggest and is even better looking in the flesh.

+ Handling
+ Fuel economy
+ Great looking inside and out

- Pricey
- Rear visbility
- Availability (Luckily I am #2 on the list at my dealer)

Carl Hillier
[email protected]

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