In the past, there were few reasons for anyone to buy a four-wheel-drive vehicle, and those reasons were purely of a practical nature.
First and foremost, they were able to withstand all manner of abuse, and second – as the name suggests – they were handy at traversing tough terrain.
Today, things have changed. Most people prefer SUVs (not even referred to as “off-roaders” anymore) for their lofty driving position and chunky looks, and many aren’t any good in the mud at all.
An exception to this change are Land Rover‘s products. Land Rover always takes pride in the fact that its cars are capable mud-pluggers, combining traditional off-road ability with impressive on-road manners. Despite this, even they have admitted the stylish Range Rover Evoque will rarely go any further than a soggy field, and as a result some versions are equipped with two-wheel drive only.
Having all four wheels feeding power to the road can be very useful in some situations. Driving over slippery terrain, the power is split in four directions rather than two. This means that if one corner loses grip, there are still a further three to back it up, instead of just one. It also means that less power is sent to each wheel, reducing the chance of slip in the first place. This can be helpful in wintery conditions, but is almost vital for anyone needing to drive off-road regularly.
If you don’t need that extra traction, sending the power to all four wheels can be a little bit wasteful. Thanks to the extra drive shafts, differentials and electrical systems required, it will be a less efficient use of the power, while adding unnecessary weight.
Assuming all other factors are equal, a four-wheel drive car will never be as economical as the front-wheel drive variant.
In the case of the Range Rover Evoque, all of the extra gubbins weighs 85kgs. As a result of this extra mass, both performance and economy are blunted. Looking at the bare figures, the four-wheel drive model only reaches 60mph 0.8 seconds sooner than the front-driver, despite its 37hp advantage and superior traction off the line.
Value for money
A fuel economy difference of 7mpg is significant too. If you average 10,000 miles per year, based on today’s diesel prices the all-wheel drive model will cost £147.50 more to fuel every year, and that’s before you factor in the more expensive road tax – £145 plays £130 for the two-wheel drive model. Equally, depending on which specification and body style you choose for your Evoque, the four-wheel drive model is between £1,800 and £2,300 more expensive. That’s enough for a decent family holiday!
When looking at the bare figures, it is quite difficult to justify the more powerful, four-wheel-drive Evoque. It’s hardly any quicker, more expensive to buy and run, and the extra four-wheel drive equipment is just another thing to go wrong. Unless you really need the extra traction, we’d recommend going for the cheaper, more efficient, two-wheel drive version.