Range Rover Evoque SD4 Dynamic – Great Design & Luxury with Impressive Off-Road Ability

Super-luxurious cabin, well-priced, impressive off-road ability

Auto ‘box not as good as it should be at low speeds

Range Rover Evoque?

The Range Rover Evoque SD4 Dynamic between two 'head' sculptures

Since its launch in 2011, the Range Rover Evoque has been a hit for Land Rover. Starting at just over £29,000 for the two-wheel-drive version, it gave people the opportunity to enter a vehicle with the prestigious Range Rover badging at considerably lower cost than the previously less expensive option to the big daddy Rangie – the RR Sport.

With the Evoque’s size and mid-high price bracket falling into BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60 territory, it has some established competition to fight. Does it live up to the Range Rover prestige, and can it justify the mid-forty-thousand-pound pricing for the top models? Let’s scrutinise the Evoque closely to find out.

Exterior. Butt ugly or beauty?

Range Rover evoque SD4 Dynamic review-2787

The Evoque is most definitely the best-looking SUV currently gracing our roads. It’s a thing of beauty. Consider at the competition; Q5? Classy, but overly simplistic perhaps. X3? Too much goin’ on. XC60? Rear lets it down.

Image shows Range Rover Evoque SD4 Dynamic at a university grounds

Whatever angle you choose for the Evoque, it exudes style, class and physically looks expensive. The heavy-set, muscular front features narrow, angry-looking headlamps reminiscent of an eagles eyes, while a bulging bonnet flows beautifully over the front wings, a thick line running from the headlights to the gloss black trim piece which runs between wing and front door.

Range Rover evoque SD4 Dynamic review-2767

Down the side, heavy swage lines bulge out, while the roof line and waist line angle sharply towards the rear, pinching in giving the Evoque a sporty look. Around to the rear and first off you’ll probably notice the rear window. I say window, but it’s more  the size of a letterbox slot you’d find on a tank, with a piece of glass in. Looks cool, but pretty darn impractical. Option the reverse camera and sensors is my advice. The rear carries on the muscular, beefy tone, and the lights have that same narrowed stare as the fronts.

Range Rover Evoque SD4 exterior detail

Configuring your new Evoque would not be an easy thing, I think, as there’s a stack of options for the exterior of the Range Rover, before you even move onto choosing your interior. Land Rover sent us the Evoque in top spec – the Dynamic SD4 with the massive panoramic roof and 20″ polished alloy rims, which were a talking point for sure. Some liked, some disliked.

In both three and five-door guise, the Evoque looks excellent. I may be about to get shot down in flames, but I actually prefer the five-door version over the Coupé. Moan, boo and throw popcorn at this comment all you like, but take a look at the Images page first and you may change your mind.

Range Rover Evoque SD4 Dynamic test.

Overall, the Evoque is a powerful-looking SUV with a stunning design – one which will no doubt age very well. It looks way more expensive than the £29K the lowest model costs, and in one of the more noticeable colours (Mauritius Blue, Firenze Red or Colima Lime, for example) you will certainly get heads turning.

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

Image shows Range Rover Evoque SD4 Dynamic interior front driver seating area.

The Evoque is badged as a Range Rover, obviously, so it’s got a lot to live up to when it comes to interior design. Ever since the RR Classic came out in 1969, it was always built with luxury in mind, and time and time again with every model the big Rangie’s interior just gets better.

So, no pressure then. Our Evoque was sent in Dynamic spec, which Land Rover say is ‘the boldest expression of Range Rover Evoque with sports interior themes‘. That was certainly the case with the one we tested. The colours are officially known as ‘Verve – Ebony/Pimento perforated leather’ – or deep red and black to you and me. Hmm. Not entirely convinced over the colours choice, and I never fully got used to them in all honesty. Too much like a dodgy dungeon. A couple of people I talked to liked it, but personally it was a little too much. I prefer cars like this to have a classy interior, and if it was my choice I’d go for the ‘Tan/Ivory/Espresso Oxford leather’ option (not available on the ‘Dynamic’ range though).

Image shows Range Rover Evoque SD4 Dynamic interior.

Even the cheapest two-wheel-drive Evoque ‘Pure’ comes with full leather seating as standard, although the front seats won’t be electric and the price will soon push up once you start specc’ing things like the electric seats and a navigation system. Still, the case is that aside from selecting wood and gloss blacks trims pieces, no matter the model the Evoque is very nicely designed inside with soft finishes on the dash, doors and more, plus real brushed aluminium here and there. All the interior trim is so well put together and solidly-built that you can’t help but be impressed. So, it’s living up to the Range Rover’s renowned luxury already.

The front seats in the Dynamic were electrically adjustable, but as in the Jaguar XF we tested, I really don’t like the finish of the controls on the seats. They look cheap and out-of-place in the Evoque. There should at least be an option to have ones similar to the gloss black & chrome ones that Jaguar have on their XJ (Jaguar-Land Rover part-share so it shouldn’t be a problem). Sounds fussy, but when you see them every time you open a front door, it’s very noticeable.

The front seats themselves are comfortable and roomy. If anything, they need to be more bolstered on the sides as the Evoque whips round corners quickly enough to shift you around in your seats, so more support would be welcome. The rear seating is not so comfortable. They’re too upright and are not angle-adjustable, plus they are too short for the legs meaning even if you’re on the shorter side, your legs will overhang uncomfortably.

They wouldn’t be as bad if you could stretch out a little more, but for some reason the floor under the seats in front is at an angle, meaning your feet are too, and that is not a comfortable position. Also, the fronts seat’s floor rails narrow the little space you had. As one of my passengers noted, the lack of space to stretch out or sideways overall make your legs and feet tired and cramped after even only an hour or so. The middle seat is not really worth sitting on, as it’s super-hard even for short journeys. Definitely a four-seater really.

Image shows the Range Rover Evoque entertainment system is easy to use and well-laid-out.

The design of the centre console between the driver and passenger is really very cool. Either side of it are two thick, chunky brushed aluminium pieces, with a sliding gloss-black cover hiding cup holders. Forward from that is the gear selector, which rises up when the engine is started. The controls are easy to use and read, and anything important like the traction control and downhill decent control buttons are large and obvious. The rest, of the heating controls are well laid-out and not complex or overbearing. At night, adjustable red, white or blue ‘mood lighting’ sets the tone, and gives the interior a cool vibe. Kind of apt for such a modern and young SUV.

Image shows Range Rover Evoque interior at night

The steering wheel is thickset and comfortable and while there are a lot of buttons on it, again they are big and simple enough to understand and use without getting distracted from driving. There’s a colour display between the two main dials which shows information such as fuel level, Co2 emissions when you set the cruise control, music or radio station you’re listening to and more.

The Evoque’s eight-inch touch screen in the centre is the same as in the Jaguar’s. It’s possibly the most elegant screen in both layout and usage terms. Even first-time users can get around and find what they need quickly and easily. If my Dad can, then anyone can. The Dynamic model we had had the ‘Lux Pack’ option, which costs a whopping £4,425 (my last car cost half that amount) but includes surround camera’s, the utterly sublime 825w Meridian Surround Sound system and dual-view analogue/digital T.V. amongst many other features.

Image shows Range Rover Evoque SD4 Dynamic boot space

The boot space on the Evoque is not fantastic, with 550 litres seats up and 1,350 seats down. That equates to around three large suitcases plus some hand-luggage. Add another 15 – 20 litres on for the Coupé. The BMW X3 is the same seats up, but beats it massively with 1,600 seats folded. The Volvo XC60 is beaten by the Evoque seats down by 55 litres (not stats for down).

Is there anything I don’t like, apart from the rear seat room? Yes. The gloss black plastic on the sliding cover for the cup holders scratches way too easily, the buttons on the steering wheel click noisily instead of silently, the grey plastic in the centre console could be improved to look better with a different finish, and the speed and rpm dials are overly simplistic and look almost bare. I like minimal to an extent, but they are perhaps too rudimentary.

Image shows Range Rover Evoque SD4 Dynamic Panoramic Roof

 

Range Rover Evoque SD4 Dynamic Panoramic Roof

The best part of the Evoque interior? The panoramic glass roof. It is absolutely huge – truly panoramic, and not some half-glassed attempt at it. It’s a £790.00 option worth every single pound. Plus it looks great from the exterior too.

To sum up though, I love the interior of the Range Rover Evoque. It is a wonderful design, minimal in a way while retaining class, and feels well build and expensive. There’s a few things that could be improved but overall it’s extremely good.Would previous generations of Range Rover’s approve? I have an inkling they would.

Engine and gearbox

A choice of one diesel engine (with two different power outputs), one petrol engine and two transmissions make choosing this the easiest part of specifying the Evoque. There’s the front-wheel-drive’s eD4 2.2 diesel with 150hp and 380 Nm (280 lb ft) (manual ‘box only), then the more powerful four-wheel-drive SD4 2.2 litre turbo-diesel with 190 hp and 420 Nm (310 lb ft) available in manual or auto, and finally the Si4 2.0 litre turbo’d petrol unit with 190 hp and 340 Nm (251 lb ft), with an auto ‘box only. The petrol is only available on the Dynamic spec Evoque. Both the manual and auto ‘boxes are six-speed.

Surprisingly, the turbo-charged two-litre petrol does the 0 – 60 run in just over seven seconds, which is mighty quick considering it weighs 2.3 tons with a nearly-full tank and a driver. That’s very impressive! Gone are the days of people thinking auto’s were slower. The zero-to-sixty time in the SD4 auto is a nippy 8.0 seconds while the manual trails behind a whole 1.5 seconds later. Now go back to the pub and tell every mate that you insisted wrongly on manual’s being faster.

Image shows the Range Rover Evoque SD4 190hp engine

Fuel economy for the SD4 automatic ranges from 36 mpg to 49 mpg with the middling at 44. You may have to drive it like an old grandpa though to get those sort of figures though, as it averaged around 33 mpg in the time I had it. That’s a mixture of urban, motorway and country roads driven in a mix of relaxed-to-spirited way. Occasionally I touched just over forty miles-per-gallon when on an open road at around 45 mph. The manual is better on fuel, especially the eD4.

The gearbox on the Evoque isn’t as smooth as I expected. Fair enough, when accelerating and at higher speeds it’s fine and changes gear quickly and almost unnoticeably. However, at lower speeds – say, around town under 35 mph – the automatic transmission is not so polished, and it seems to hesitate overly much, like it was trying to decide whether to change or not. It’s noticeable for sure. Setting off from junctions, you can put your foot down and there’s a distinct pause between you pushing the pedal and the Evoque physically responding, which can get irritating if you’re doing a lot of stop-start driving. It’s not a bad gearbox overall per se, but there’s certainly room for improvement.

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

The Range Rover Evoque drives as good as it looks. That’s all. Oh go on then, I’ll write some more stuff about it. The Evoque SD4 rides beautifully, mainly down to the ingenious MagneRide suspension system it uses, which makes instant changes for every road condition your wheels drive across.

Having MagneRide, the Evoque has smooth, comfortable drivability on normal road surfaces, even if it’s a bad one, and the Adaptive Dynamics option (£1,150) – which is only available with the Dynamic and Prestige SD4 models – means being able to stiffen the ride using ‘Dynamic Mode’ on the Terrain Response pad. It works well too, and sharpens the handling, making throwing the Evoque around corners great fun. As I mentioned earlier, the Evoque could do with deeper seat bolsters to hold you in place as the seats can’t keep up with the handling.

Range Rover Evoque dials

A quick note on the optioned Park Assist the Dynamic had. It’s accurate, and parked within a few inches of the kerb each time, but it’s also more fussy than the Kia system I’ve used on their different models. As you pull to a stop when it tells you, it asks you to pull forward again. If you go even slightly further than the car wants – which is easy to do even when inching forward using only the brake pedal – it’ll reset and start searching for another space. This is annoying and slows the whole process right down to the point where it’d only be good to use on a quiet street. Woe betide you if you tried that on a busy road in London packed with irate road users.

Pushing harder than normal around corners, the Evoque surprised me by being nimbler than its weight belies. It’s not like a sports car in its turn-in, as there’s still enough lean to remind this is an SUV and it’s not lightweight either, but I had fun finding out what it could do and the Evoque gave good responses to my persistent prodding of the go pedal. This is also probably helped by a low(ish) centre of gravity mated with a wide track and each wheel placed within just a few inches of each end of the car.

In the wet though, the Range Rover Evoque is outstanding. Not a word I’m using in some throw-away manner, but it really is. The heavier the rain and the more drenched the road, the more the Evoque loves it. Navigating a tight roundabout in a downpour, the surface greasy and slippery, the baby Rangie gripped like a climber who’s rope has just comes off a 1,000 feet up. It’s all very easily controllable, and inspired absolute confidence when the weather turned nasty.

Range Rover Evoque SD4 driving

The fine handling is complimented by the SD4’s fabulous 2.2 litre four cylinder turbo-diesel engine. The engine isn’t as smooth as the SDV6 in the Discovery or the big Range Rover’s, but it absolutely packs a punch. Acceleration is pleasantly and impressively quick, and when you want to give that accelerator a good poke for whatever reason, it responds by surging forward in a manner that makes passengers ask what size the engine is. Their response is usually surprise that it’s not a bigger one.

The 420 Nm (310 lb ft) of torque peaks at just 1,750 rpm, so there’s a lot of low-down pulling power to play with. The SD4 auto slides up to speeds of sixty or seventy miles per hour with an ease, deftness and unruffled way that’ll take both the driver and passengers by surprise. It’s not in a harsh manner that’ll spill your motorway-services cappuccino, but more a wave of torque sliding you into – and past – the flows of traffic with zero drama.

When overtaking is a necessity, the 190 hp diesel is plenty enough to throw you past the country road slow-pokes and scenery-starers, and the Evoque will comfortably ride at over 100 mph without breaking a sweat, should you want to rush between German cities on the Autobahn.

The Evoque has a great chassis, good handling and ride quality thanks to the trick MagneRide suspension, and the 190 hp version of the 2.2 turbo-diesel is easily enough power to keep you from being bored plus its 4×4 system inspires confidence on roads that have turned into rivers. As I said earlier, the Range Rover Evoque drives as good as it looks.

AWD and off-road. Stuck or superb?

Range Rover Evoque SD4 off-roading ability is superb

Okay, so while I say with absolute confidence that 90% of Evoque owners will not take their shiny SUV off-road, you want to know it works well should you ever find yourself in a particularly-boggy VIP-parking field after a rained-on Glastonbury, right? There’s winter driving too, I suppose, when you can redeem your not-using-my-4×4-fully ways by being a hero, and taking your kids and their sledges further up the snowy hill than everyone else.

Firstly, the Evoque’s Terrain Response system is ultra-easy to use, and less ‘complex’ than both the big Rangie’s or the Discovery’s. There’s no button to raise the suspension, and simply two arrow controls to select which setting you want from either General Driving (on road/light off-roading), Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Ruts, and Sand. If you’ve optioned the Adaptive Dynamics, that’s on there too.

Range Rover evoque SD4 Dynamic's terrain type selector dial

If you’re interested in how each setting actually works, there’s a very interesting post about Terrain Response on OverlandExpo.com, where someone had the correct information directly from Land Rover’s lead driving instructor. It’s much better than me trying to explain in a baffling barrage of words that barely make sense to even myself. So, check out that link.

Physically though, I had chance to test the off-road-worthyness of the Evoque at a quarry. A quarry full of boggy sand sucking at the tyres meant selecting the cactus & car symbol (Sand) for the correct mode. Turning around in a tight spot on one quarry road, the Evoque suddenly and unexpectedly bogged-down, the wheels sinking into the soft ground and spinning frantically. That’s it? Stuck already? I was disappointed! Where was the now-legendary Terrain Response’s… response, when we needed it?

Range Rover Evoque SD4 is excellent to drive, even on rough terrain

The doubt was quickly removed when suddenly the engine rev’s slowed (even though my foot was hard on the accelerator), and I felt each wheel individually pulling and grappling for grip, heaving itself out of the sand with very little drama. Heck, I even relaxed enough to switch on the air conditioning while it doggedly pulled itself clear. This was all the more impressive as it was on road tyres offering very little off-road grip.

Image shows the Range Rover Evoque SD4 with a huge Liebherr digger.

One of the other testers wisely decided to push the Evoque into a deep sand drift, and while I watched from a distance, ready to phone for a tow, the Evoque yet again clawed its way out, to my utter surprise. One more example of how good the Evoque is. A Land Rover Discovery 4 driver decided to tackle a absurdly steep bank, and got stuck – the Disco sat on its belly, wheels hanging virtually at the limit of suspension travel. The Evoque was called into action for a tow. Again, we were all hugely impressed at the Evoque’s ability.

We were pulling almost the full 3,200 kg (7,000 lb) weight of the Discovery against the weight of the sand bogging it down. That equals a lot of tonnage. Instead of digging itself four mini crevices at each wheel though, the Evoque calmly went about getting power to each wheel with the best grip until it pulled and yanked the Discovery free. Smiles and high-fives ensued.

Image shows the Range Rover Evoque pulling a Land Rover Discovery 4 out of trouble

Going downhill, the Downhill Descent worked excellently, slowing us down quickly, yet smoothly, with zero input from myself on the brakes. Setting back off up the same steep slope, the Hill Start Assist stopped any rolling backwards for a few seconds, allowing me to get back on the gas and power up the hill with zero drama. The Surround Camera System also worked really well by letting us see the ground next to both front wheels, and the fronts allow vision lower down, so boulders etc that you can’t see normally are visible on the screen. Very handy – until they get muddy. They should have mini washer-jets on them to keep them clear.

The Range Rover Evoque is quite brilliant off road, and if it had more ground clearance, or a means of raising the suspension like its bigger brothers, then it’d be sublime. As I love old-school off-roaders (and have one myself), it took the RR Evoque to convince me that a modern system relying on electronics was better than the old method of locking differentials using a big lever between the seats. Now someone will have to convince me of the opposite…

Price

It’s a thought-provoker, this one. A ‘standard’ Evoque Pure SD4 costs around £31,000 – add £1,700 for the automatic version – but you’re still getting tantamount to the same interior as the more expensive models, save for some of the really luxurious options. The Dynamic-spec Evoque I tested cost just over £47,000, but had almost every extra on it. That’s a whole fifteen-thousand pounds difference. Eeek! For myself, I’d buy the Pure and option the Panoramic roof, 825w Meridian System and the Pure Style Pack, taking it to £36K.

The pricing is in-line with the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Volvo XC60, as once you start specc’ing those out the price skyrockets too. For a buy-in to the Range Rover marque though, the Evoque is an excellent starting point at a reasonable price.

Range Rover Evoque SD4 Automatic verdict & score

Land Rover were entirely right to brand the Evoque as a Range Rover. Its strong design is mated with luxury both in the form of the interior finish and ride quality. The powerful SD4 diesel engine is refined, and alongside the superb Terrain Response, the Evoque is more than adequately equipped to deal with most weather conditions and terrain – all while looking exceptionally cool.

Do you own a Range Rover Evoque? What’s your views on it, and what are the best and worst points? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!

Exterior  8.5
Interior (Dynamic)  8.5
Engine (SD4)  8
Gearbox (Auto.)  7.5
Price  8.5
Drive  8.5
AWD & Off-road ability  8.5
Overall Score  8.0 / 10 

  Specs

Model (as tested)  2012 Range Rover Evoque Dynamic SD4 automatic 5-door
Spec includes  All-round power windows, full leather upholstery, front heated and power seats, sat nav/entertainment system with reverse camera and Park Assist, dual climate-control, hill-start assist, powered tailgate, Panoramic roof, digital T.V, surround camera system, Bi-Xenon headlamps etc  See spec sheet for more
Options you should spec  Panoramic roof, 825w Meridian Surround Sound
Price (as tested)  £47,385 on the road
Engine  2.2 four-cylinder turbo-diesel (SD4)
Power, Torque, CO2  190 hp and 420 Nm (310 lb ft) | CO2: 174 g/km
Drive, Gears (as tested)  Full-time four-wheel-drive with Terrain Response, six-speed automatic gearbox
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, EuroNCAP  Max speed: 121 mph | 0 – 60 mph: 8.0 seconds | 5-Star Euro NCAP rating
Fuel economy (mpg)  Urban: 36.2 mpg, Extra Urban: 49.6 mpg, Combined: 44.1 mpg
Weight (gross)  2,350 kg (5,180 lbs)
Ground clearance  Front axle: 215mm (8.46″), Rear axle: 240mm (9.44″) | Max. Wading depth: 500mm (19.68″)
Websites  Land Rover UK, Land Rover Worldwide

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Words: Chris Davies | Tested by: Chris Davies, Nathan Fielder| Photography: Jason Fanthorpe, Pat Davies, Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

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