First Drive

First Drive: Range Rover Evoque

The story:
The second generation Evoque improves the best bits of the previous generation such as the styling and the on/off-road ability and adds a heap of useful technology while also meeting the latest emissions standards
Category:Premium SUV
Key rival:Audi Q5
Suzuki Vitara 1.0 Boosterjet 111 SZ-T
On sale:Now



The second-generation Range Rover Evoque is could be something to get excited about, but the excitement for fleet managers, as with all mid-size SUVs, is usually tempered by a higher CO2 figure and larger tax bill. However, the new Evoque is the first of this class to qualify for the tougher RDE2 emissions standard, so it escapes the 4% diesel penalty.

This single point gives the new Evoque a significant advantage in the company car market by putting it in a lower BIK tax band than any diesel rival.

It might be only the 150hp diesel engine in front-drive manual form that qualifies, but the new Evoque has a CO2 figure of 143g/km which hits the 32% BIK band; the auto version sits just one band higher.

Pricing is also competitive against the premium-brand competition, and while there are a lot of options to choose from, most of the trims – including this second-from-base-level S – offer a competitive amount of equipment as standard.

However, the Evoque isn’t all about beating the tax man. The new model is clearly recognisable as a successor, but it now looks and feels more grown up both inside and out.

First Drive-May 2019-Range Rover Evoque-Image 2The cabin’s premium feel is boosted significantly by the dashboard design. With the Touch Pro Duo double screen fitted (standard on the SE and HSE or a £400 option on the entry level and S cars), the navigation and in-car controls have a classy feel. The extra control screen sits below the sat-nav.

Rear seat legroom has also been improved and the boot now has 472 litres, up from 420.

Get behind the wheel and the Evoque is better to drive both on the road and off it. It’s very comfortable, has light steering and flows well though the bends. But it’s the refinement levels that impress most. The new RDE2-compliant D150 engine is one of the most refined units available in this class. There’s also very little wind or road noise intrusion in the cabin all the way up to motorway speeds.

Still, while throttle response and initial shove is very good, the D150 Evoque can’t be described as quick; 0-60mph is covered in 10.4 seconds, which means overtaking needs some planning and a big gap. However, for 95% of driving needs the engine is just fine. This includes off-road work, where the low-down torque and clever electronic grip systems will take the car far farther into the wild than the vast majority of drivers would ever venture.

Tristan Young

The verdict

The first car in the segment to qualify for RDE2 (although only on the D150 FWD, manual version) makes this a company car winner. On top of this the Evoque is also a highly desirable car thanks to great looks, the Range Rover badge and some useful and clever tech.