Range Rover Evoque (2015-2018) review
The Range Rover Evoque is great looking, fun to drive and comfortable, but its interior isn’t as well-built nor practical as similar models
What's not so good
Range Rover Evoque (2015-2018): what would you like to read next?
The Range Rover Evoque is easy to dismiss as a ‘fashion statement’, but this is a small SUV that provides a sleek and stylish alternative to the likes of the Mercedes GLC and BMW X3. You’ll certainly enjoy driving the Evoque on the road and it’ll go an awful lot further off-road than its trendy looks suggest – not that most people will be too concerned about that. However, you won’t find it hard to pick an SUV that’s more practical.
You can choose from three different body styles, but for most people, the choice will be between the sporty-looking three-door version (which Range Rover calls a coupe) and the far more practical five-door model, both of which are covered here. However, there’s also a convertible version, which is reviewed separately.
After being launched in 2011, the Evoque was subtly updated in 2015 and had some very minor extra tweaks in the middle of 2016. Since those revisions, it’s been available with optional LED headlights, remodelled bumpers, a revised infotainment system and new engines. The 2.0-litre diesel units have power outputs ranging from 150 to 240hp, while the two petrol units give stronger acceleration, with 240 or 290hp.
If you’ve fallen for the Evoque’s classy shape, then chances are you’ll also like the relatively simple design of the cabin. It looks modern and generally feels pretty well built; and, only if you poke around lower down in the cabin will you find hollow-sounding plastics that you just wouldn’t get in, say, a BMW or Mercedes.
Sadly, no amount of slick design can get away from the fact your rear-seat passengers will feel more cramped than they would in a similar SUV, because both leg and headroom are rather tight. If you choose a model with the panoramic glass roof, it’ll feel a bit lighter inside, but taller passengers will still have plenty to complain about, especially in the smaller three-door models.
Whether you go for a three- or five-door Evoque, it has a 420-litre boot, which is smaller than you’ll find in both the BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC. It’s still a useful space, though: nice and square, with a flat load lip and an adjustable floor that makes it easy to load heavy luggage or slide in bulky furniture.
Depending on which model you go for, the Evoque’s infotainment system is another weak point. The 8.0-inch touchscreen that’s fitted to the more basic models is neither as sharp nor as responsive as systems offered by Mercedes or BMW, although it is bright and comes with physical buttons to take you straight to some of the key features.
You’re better off going for the upgraded 10.0-inch infotainment system that is standard on HSE Dynamic models and above, and a cheap option elsewhere. It’s far nicer to use and has a super-sharp screen.
The Range Rover Evoque looks great from the outside and absolutely lovely from the driver’s seat
What you will like is the way the Evoque drives, as it feels more like a jacked-up sports car than a big SUV. Thanks to its nice and high driving position, you’ll have a good view of the road ahead and the car doesn’t lean too much in tight corners. Its supple suspension soaks up potholes and speedbumps better than the rather firm BMW X3, too – even when fitted with large 20-inch alloy wheels. You do get a loud wind whistle coming from the door mirrors at motorway speeds, though.
Rather more welcome is the maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, although the Evoque did earn that back in 2011, when the tests were less stringent than they are today. Mind you, even the entry-level models come with automatic emergency braking and a lane departure warning system.
You can get the Evoque with a wide range of engines, although every one – petrol or diesel – is a 2.0-litre unit. At the bottom of the range is a 150hp diesel that returns around 65.7mpg and strikes the best balance between running costs and performance. The more powerful 180hp version will suit you better if you regularly tow heavy trailers, but you’ll find it hard to justify spending the extra on the range-topping 240hp diesel – and it’s a similar story with either of the petrol engines, which are expensive to run.
With the exception of the basic 150hp diesel models, all-wheel drive is standard across the range, but if low running costs are important to you, those basic models are the best bet.
Five-door models feel fairly roomy in the back – especially with the panoramic glass sunroof – but neither three nor five-door cars have a particularly big boot for a car this size
Its sporty looks mean the Evoque’s not quite as practical as many larger SUVs. Boot space is OK but room in the back is tight
You might be surprised that, inside the Evoque, it feels more like a sportscar, thanks to the high window line and tall centre console. Better still, there’s plenty of headroom in the front and the seating position is excellent, giving you a great view to the front that’s hampered only by a sizeable blind spot created by the thick windscreen pillar. This can make pulling out of tight junctions tricky, while the minuscule rear window and thick rear pillars can make changing lanes on the motorway a slightly nerve-wracking experience.
Even on the basic SE models, both the driver and passenger seats have eight-way electrical adjustment as standard; but, SE Tech models and above come with 12-way adjustment, and top-spec Autobiography versions come with a comprehensive 14-way adjustment – as if you needed more buttons to fiddle with – and convenient memory functions that let you save preset positions for different drivers.
If you regularly carry passengers in the back, it’s best to avoid the three-door Evoque coupe. Yes, it looks a little more stylish than the five-door, but the steeply sloping roofline restricts the headroom and makes clambering in and out a real chore.
Even in five-door models, rear headroom and kneeroom are tighter than in alternative models, while a large lump in the floor, small footwells and upright rear seatbacks make it less comfortable for three to sit abreast than in either an X3 or a GLC.
The panoramic glass roof (optional on SE and SE Tech models, but standard on the rest of the range) adds a wee bit more much-needed headroom and helps make the Evoque’s cabin feel a little lighter. Even with it, the small windows make it feel quite claustrophobic in the rear seats, especially for young children or short adults.
You’ll have no trouble fitting a large bottle of water in the front doors or the huge glovebox, and all models come with a pair of useful cupholders on the centre console, but the Evoque isn’t overly blessed with cubbies. The storage compartment under the front armrest will struggle to hold anything larger than a smartphone and the rear door pockets are rather small, too.
As you would probably expect, the larger five-door model is much more practical and fitting a child seat is simple. The rear doors open wide and their square shape means you can easily get the seat in and fix it to the clearly marked Isofix points. Just remember to tuck their removable plastic covers somewhere safe, because they’re all too easy to lose.
The Evoque can carry a reasonable 420 litres of luggage with five seats in place; and, when you fold down the rear seats, you get 1,445 litres to play with in the five-door model, and 1350 in the coupe. That makes it roomier than the boot in a conventional family car, but both the BMW X3 and the Mercedes GLC – with identical 550-litre and 1,600-litre capacities – are much more spacious.
That said, you’ll still be able to fit a stroller, a set of golf clubs or a weekend’s worth of family luggage in the boot of the Evoque. There are also some useful tie-down hooks and space to hang your shopping bags; and, if you need room for something bigger, the rear seats fold down in a 60:40 split using buttons beside the rear headrests.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any seat-folding levers in the boot itself and, unless you remove the headrests, the rear seats don’t fold completely flat. Even so, with the rear seats folded down, there’s still enough space to store a bike without removing its wheels.
Better still, sliding bulky items into the boot couldn’t be easier, thanks to the flat boot lip and there’s some extra space under the boot floor to safely hide some valuables. However, you can’t drop down the centre section of the rear seats, which would let you slide skis through from the boot, and there’s also nowhere inside the car to store the parcel shelf if you have to take it out.
All models are comfortable and have an excellent driving position. The steering is sharp and makes even the entry-level diesel feel lively on a country road
The Evoque’s super sharp steering makes it feel a bit more like a jacked-up sports car than a traditional SUV
You can get the Evoque with a range of petrol and diesel engines, and pretty much every one comes with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive for extra grip.
The exception to that rule is the most basic engine, the 150hp 2.0-litre eD4, which is the only one to come with two-wheel drive. Although it’s not all that quick – 0-62mph takes just over 11 seconds – it’s the the best all-rounder in the range. It’s fairly quiet at motorway speeds and doesn’t grumble too loudly when you accelerate. It’ll also emit just 113g/km of CO2 and return a claimed 65mpg – pretty impressive for an SUV – although you can expect closer to 50mpg in everyday use.
Pair the more powerful 180hp TD4 diesel engine with an automatic gearbox, and the Evoque accelerates from 0-62mph in a more spritely nine seconds. Unfortunately, the compromise for this added performance are CO2 emissions of as much as 134g/km and noticeably poorer fuel economy than the 150hp diesel. Land Rover claims it’ll return 55mpg but, in the real world, you can expect to see something in the high forties.
There’s also a more powerful 240hp SD4 engine, but you can apply all the arguments against the 180hp against this engine, too – only more so. With claimed fuel economy of below 50mpg, you can only expect low forties in everyday use, and the CO2 emissions are almost as high as on the petrol engines. Unless you just want the quickest diesel Evoque, there’s little reason to choose it.
If you don’t want a diesel engine, there are a couple of Si4 petrol units available, with either 240 or 290hp, and both with four-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic gearbox. They’re only available with higher trim levels, and while they’re the most powerful Evoques, they’re also the thirstiest. Neither has claimed fuel economy of more than 40mpg and the most powerful version emits up to 173g/km of CO2. The attraction is that you’ll be able to sprint from 0-62mph in less than seven seconds, but as these petrol engines only come with expensive trims, they’re not worth the extra cost unless you absolutely don’t want a diesel model.
The most basic diesel models come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but by far the majority of the range comes with a nine-speed automatic. The manual feels precise and mechanical – like it was designed for a hot hatch rather than a sophisticated SUV – but the automatic is far smoother and helps take the stress out of long-distance drives or rush-hour commutes. The only issue you might find is that the automatic can sometimes lurch as it struggles to decide which of the nine gears is the right one at any given moment.
If you’re keen to take your stylish new SUV off road, all models with an automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive come with at least the option of an All-Terrain Progress Control system. Effectively, this electronic trickery (which is standard with the SD4 and Si4 engines) is an off-road cruise control and means you don’t have to touch the pedals to safely get down slippery slopes. In this respect, the Evoque is superb – it’s by far the best compact SUV off-road and will carve through mud, gravel and even snow with impressive ease.
Thanks to its high driving position, the Evoque gives you a good view over the traffic ahead – helping you spot pedestrians and other obstructions easily – but it feels more like a small family car to drive than a tall SUV. It turns quickly and sharply without too much body roll, grips well through tight corners and does a good job of ironing out bumps around town.
Even with the largest 20-inch alloy wheels fitted, the Evoque cruises comfortably over rutted and poorly maintained roads. Admittedly, it isn’t quite as relaxing as the Mercedes GLC, but the Evoque’s supple suspension does a better job of softening jarring bumps than the stiffer setup in the BMW X3.
Unfortunately, the Evoque’s tiny rear windows make it a real pain to park. Parking sensors are fitted as standard, but they feel overly cautious at times – beeping piercingly when you still have acres of room behind.
What will inspire more confidence is the Evoque’s five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP. Granted, this score was recorded in 2011, when the test was less stringent, but the Evoque will still make for a safe and secure family car. All Evoques come fitted with autonomous emergency braking, too – to help prevent low-speed collisions around town – and a lane departure warning system.
The Evoque’s interior looks smart, but the basic infotainment system is slow to respond and alternatives feel posher inside