Range Rover Evoque – Review
By Liam Bird
“Give me Goodwood on a summer’s day, and you can kept the rest.” That’s exactly what gentleman racer Roy Salvadori once said, and after visiting this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed I’m very much inclined to agree.
Lord March’s garden party for all-things automotive seems to get better by the year. Whatever your petrol-powered preference may be, you’re guaranteed to find it either on the cricket pitch, in the Cathedral Paddock, on the rally stage, or trying to set a new record up the hill-climb. And all within the grounds of Goodwood House in July.
Where else in the world can you simultaneously see Sir Jackie Stewart drive the ex-Fangio Mercedes W196? Or watch nine times World Rally Champion Sebastian Loeb glide sideways through a forest rally stage? Or gaze skywards as the Red Arrows perform their aerobatic ballet overhead? If you’ve got any kind of vehicular addiction The Goodwood Festival of Speed is the place to really get your fix.
Perhaps it is the coincidence of this year’s Festival of Speed falling on the same dates as the usually deluge-ridden Glastonbury and the Wimbledon weekend. Or maybe it is the woes of the weatherman that did it. But this year I give a little extra thought as to what car might provide me with the perfect means of transport for what has become my annual Southern-bound pilgrimage. I want something stylish. Something equally at home cruising on the motorway as it is parked outside the finest of country residences. Something that will, if as predicted, the heavens truly open, be capable of getting me off the steep sided and no-doubt slippery chalk-downs that make up the Goodwood Estate. After some careful consideration I give Land Rover a call.
It’s been a while since I last drove a Range-Rover Evoque. Nearly four years in fact. Since then it’s been subject to a few subtle changes. You still get the rakish LRX-inspired concept-car looks. Even now, in three-door (coupe) form at least, they still look good enough to grace one of the vast showroom-like stands that sit trackside opposite the front doors of Goodwood House come Festival weekend. You still get a decent sized boot too. It’s perfect for stowing your waterproofs, your walking boots, your weekend away bags. And it will swallow your entire photographer’s associated paraphernalia as well. Best of all, you still get an incredibly comfy (though some rear-seat passengers in the three-door might disagree) and hugely capable off-roader that drives like a hot – well hot-ish – hatchback.
“Sharper ability to change direction”
External minor cosmetic alterations aside, the big news for the Evoque in 2014 is its new nine (yes nine!) speed ZF automatic gearbox. Not only does it de-couple the rear wheels at speeds up to 22mph in traffic, it also allows the engine to operate more efficiently for longer, due to now almost imperceptible steps between each gear. Add to that new stop-start technology and software that gives the chassis a new found and sharper ability to change direction. This is thanks to what’s known as torque-vectoring. The end result is an Evoque that’s not only more enjoyable to drive, but, Land Rover claim, 16% cheaper to run and much cleaner CO2 emission-wise too.
Perhaps it goes without saying that this little Range Rover is still hardly likely to challenge either the handling or the performance of any of the rare, exotic and almost mind-blowingly expensive machinery the assembled world motoring racing glitterati were demonstrating on Lord March’s driveway over the three day festival.
“More capable that I remembered”
Nevertheless, after a four hour mixed-road drive from my place on the Welsh border to the good Lord’s garden, my average of 41.8mpg meant I still have just enough left in the kitty to buy myself a souvenir t-shirt. The bespoke Meridian hi-fi system also meant, once I’d fathomed its rather clunky and slightly dated digital interface, I was able to pick-up the commentary on Radio Goodwood during my schlep across the South Downs as well. Whilst all the time cooled leather seats and dual-zone air-con prevent me from working up sweat on what was possibly one of the sunniest and best attended Festival of Speed weekends I can remember.
What’s that? It didn’t rain after all? No not a drop. Apart from maybe a few gentle spots on the Saturday morning.
As the Glastonbury goers once again got soaked to the bone, those of us who prefer our music to be of a much more mechanical nature, ate ice-cream, had our programs signed by our heroes, and sipped Pimms in the sun. Not once did I have to trouble the Evoque’s clever Terrain Response system. But once again the smallest of the Range-Rover family proves itself to be better and more capable than I remember.
Goodwood, as always, was glorious.
Range Rover Evoque Dymanic Coupe SD4
Engine: 2179cc 4 cyl. 16V Turbo Diesel
Transmission: 9 speed auto, four wheel drive
Power: 187 bhp @ 3500rpm
Torque: 309 lb ft @ 1750rpm
0-62MPH: 8.0 sec
Max Speed: 121 mph
MPG: 48.7 combined
Photographs: Rebecca Thomas