LAND ROVER’s new baby showed that it’s well equipped to take on the big boys during a testing and sometimes gruelling launch drive.
The Range Rover Evoque has stunning, stylish looks - but don’t be deceived by these.
It proved to be one tough character during an off-road trek that some other 4x4s would fail to conquer.
The Evoque didn’t quite manage to climb Mount Snowdon but it rode over some tough off-road terrain around Snowdonia.
On-road driving was just as impressive and an urban drive in Liverpool had some added spice as this adventure took us through a 2,300-metres long tunnel – under the city.
The Evoque is available in five-door and coupe styles with a choice of three engines and three spec levels, plus a wide range of options and accessories.
It’s the smallest Range Rover yet – also the lightest and most fuel-efficient - but there is a surprising amount of space inside.
There’s lots of leg, head and elbow room in the front and although the coupe roofline is 30mm smaller it can accommodate two rear passengers quite comfortably.
If you are looking for a car to take rear passengers regularly then the five-door should be your model as getting into the rear of the coupe isn’t as easy as it could be.
With prices ranging from £27,955 to £44,320, there’s a wide choice of vehicles in Pure, Prestige or Dynamic spec.
Exterior choices include 12 different colours, three contrasting roof colours, seven alloy wheel designs, from 18-inch to 20-inch, illuminated aluminium and chrome tread plates, full-sized fixed panoramic glass roof and black or chrome roof rails.
All models offer quality interiors with the Pure standard features including grain leather seats, heated front seats, eight-inch high-resolution touch screen display, climate control air conditioning, 11-speaker Meridian audio system, push-button start, Bluetooth connection and cruise control.
Handling and safety features include Hill Launch Assist and rear parking sensors with Terrain Response and Hill Descent Control on four-wheel drive versions.
Prestige additions include HDD sat nav, audio server for storing digital music files, rear camera, front parking sensors and automatic headlamps and windscreen wipers.
The Dynamic model spec includes aluminium pedal covers and Adaptive Dynamics featuring MagnaRide which brings a sharper ride and handling.
Engine choices are two 2.2-litre diesels, 187 and 148bhp, and a 2-litre 237bhp petrol unit.
My favourite was the more powerful of the diesel units with its six-speed automatic transmission.
It handled all off-road challenges with little fuss and was equally at home when the Evoque was asked for power on some winding and undulating roads.
Handling on the road was as sure-footed as it was when climbing or descending on the hills and ride comfort also scored high marks.
The Evoque cruised quietly at motorway speeds, with this engine capable of reaching 121mph and also going from standstill to 60mph in eight seconds.
It was just as comfortable in town driving – and crawling along the Wapping Tunnel.
This railway tunnel, with the tracks long since gone, runs from Liverpool’s Edge Hill to the docks and closed in 1972.
Land Rover managed to get it open for this launch, taking us into the darkness and exiting through a deep pool of water at the end.
Evoque is set to make a big splash with its all-round capabilities and stylish looks.
I enjoyed its sporting, dynamic performance on the tarmac and was fortunate to test the Evoque off road, something the majority of its owners will never manage - but those who do won’t be let down.