Saturday, 1 August 2015

REVIEW - Range Rover Evoque Autobiography

This car will always be special to me, because our wedding car was an Evoque. And as I write this review that is almost exactly a year ago. Land Rover wanted to spice up the range, and decided to do this with the introduction of a recognised name; the Autobiography. This instantly conjures up images of luxury, because this name has always been reserved for the range-topping, most executive cars. I had high hopes for the Evoque in this sense, and after being slightly disappointed with the practicality of the 3-door model I was looking forward to getting to grips with the 5-door version.

Looks – 10/10

Despite the exterior styling remaining very much unchanged from the cars launch in 2011 this is still a fresh and modern looking car. The Autobiography is the best looking Evoque for me. It has all the sporty touches from the Dynamic model whilst adding premium touches here and there. The front end is bold, with distinctive daytime running lights, prominent fog lights and a silver/black lower bodykit. At the side the Autobiography adds unique 20-inch ‘sparkle’ alloy wheels which do exactly that. When clean they really do have a cracking shine to them, and they add a lot to the exterior kerb appeal. At the back there’s a diffuser and twin exhausts, complimented by a subtle roof spoiler. There’s privacy glass to complete the premium image, and finished in Corris Grey- which has a green tint to it- it looked sophisticated and generally superb.

The interior colour combination on my test car complimented the exterior styling perfectly. The trim was the Cirrus and Lunar leather, which gave the interior a balanced feel and in particular the Cirrus leather made the cabin feel light and airy. The finisher in the cabin was a satin brushed aluminium veneer, and it finished off the cabin tremendously. The contrasting leathers are showcased most effectively on the dashboard, and this looks very high quality. From the driver’s point of view, the deep-dish instrument bezels and crystal-clear display sit nicely in your eye line, and the visual appeal is enhanced further by the optional heads-up display (£1,000). In the back there was an optional rear entertainment system (£2,000) and throughout the interior the light, crisp feel was boosted immensely by the panoramic roof which is a focal point and lets plenty of light into the cabin.

Handling/Performance – 9/10

The engine in my Autobiography is the one I’d pick if I had free choice; the 2.2-litre SD4 diesel engine. This is a powerful motor offering 190PS and 420Nm of torque. And it is the latter figure which plays more importance, because there is a 9-speed ZF automatic gearbox. The abundance of ratios mean that the torque is used to the fullest extent, and as a result power delivery is smooth and effortless. The Evoque SD4 is no slouch either; with 0-62mph being dealt with in 8 seconds and a top speed of 121mph. The 9-speed gearbox makes motorway driving a dream, with 70mph being about 1,600rpm. There is the option to change gear with paddles behind the steering wheel, but I didn’t see the need for it.

Despite the Evoque being a tall, heavy car I was extremely impressed with the handling. For starters the steering is precise and perfectly weighted. My test car came with Adaptive Dynamics (£800) and this includes a ‘Dynamic’ mode. Select this and the dials turn red to let you know the Evoque means business. In this mode the suspension stiffens up and the cornering is remarkable. There is virtually no body roll which is unexpected in a car this size. I took the Evoque over the twisty A-road nearby and was impressed at how well it cornered. With that SD4 pulling you from bend to bend the road just disappeared behind you. And then once you switch off the Dynamic mode and hit the motorway the Evoque will waft along in blissful silence. You could happily drive up and down the country in this car, and it just isn’t tiring at all.

Economy – 9/10

Because the engine is only 2.2-litres and the 9-speed gearbox keeps the revs low, the Evoque offers respectable economy figures. Combined fuel consumption is 47.1mpg, and at the rate diesel prices are going this will really save you money at the pumps. The automatic gearbox comes with start/stop technology, and this helps lower the CO2 emissions to 159g/km. That results in the Evoque slotting nicely into VED bad G. Annual road tax is £180 in the first and subsequent years, which is reasonable for the sizeable car this is.

Practicality – 10/10

Any issues I had with the Evoque as a 3-door car are completely dispelled by the 5-door version. I think it is a thoroughly superb car to live with. The rear seats are spacious and much more accessible. It’s also more practical to have smaller front doors, as they are easier to open in a car park where space might be a bit tight. Then we come to the luxuries, and there’s lots of them. The front seats can be both heated and cooled, which makes for all-year-round practicality. The optional adaptive cruise control (£1,175) comes into its own on a long motorway drive, adjusting speed to maintain a set distance from the vehicle in front. The tailgate is electrically-operated and reveals a generous boot space, and the reversing camera helps when parking.

Fun – 9/10

The hub of the entertainment system is the screen in the front, which showcases some pretty amazing technology. It’s a dual-view screen, which enables the driver to see a sat-nav screen whilst the passenger sees the television. That never stops being fun. The iPod interface in the Evoque is worth a mention too, because it works very well and had no issue with indexing the 12,000 songs on mine. The Meridian sound system is superb, and just another example of the luxury on offer. You genuinely feel privileged behind the wheel of the Autobiography, and just stepping inside is enough to put a smile on your face.

Concluding Remarks

So that sums up my week with the Range Rover Evoque. The Autobiography model sits at the top of the model line-up, and is fully deserving of this place. Land Rover have got the styling spot on, and thanks to the standard equipment list and build quality the Evoque has the substance to match. The price for the Autobiography SD4 is £49,805 but it is still possible to add options to this. In fact, my test car came in at £55,230 which does seem a lot. However, this car is brilliant in every respect, and with high residual values could be a worthy purchase. If you want more information log on to the Land Rover website, or call in to your local dealership. The Range Rover Evoque Autobiography; luxury, epitomised.

Total Score – 47/50

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