It looks like the Evoque is already high on the ‘guilty pleasures’ lists of various evo team members – one month in and several have already sidled over to me since taking a turn and made both appreciative and slightly surprised noises: ‘It’s quite good, isn’t it?’
Well, yes – that’s what it’s doing here in the first place. The bigger question is whether we can regard something with a transverse four-cylinder engine and a part-time four-wheel-drive system as being a worthy carrier of the Range Rover badge. Which is why I chose to throw it in at the deep end.
Actually, the steep end – on the off-road course favoured by our sister magazine Land Rover Monthly. The Evoque wasn’t up to tackling the bigger obstacles, but it still put in a decent performance when asked to deal with some properly steep climbs and descents, finding strong traction despite road-biased rubber and with its clever hill-descent system twanging the brakes to keep speed in check on the downward bits.
It’s no Defender 90 – lack of ground clearance means that any attempts to travel into the proper wilderness will produce some very expensive noises from the underside. (And yes, I scratched the front bumper getting up one of the banks.) But it’s certainly better off-road than – at a rough guess – 99.97 per cent of its audience will ever have cause to find out.
On road, it’s still impressive, largely because, unlike many of its soft-road rivals, it’s not trying to be some ramped sports car with over-firm springs and too-quick steering. The Evoque rolls along with an imperious, long-legged gait that really suits it – communicating its modest limits and seeming to enjoy occasionally finding them. I love it.