In The Spectator of 27 August I reviewed the new Range Rover Evoque despite not having driven it; a narcissistic exercise to see how accurately I could predict my own impressions. Having now spent a week with it, I can proudly proclaim that I passed my self-set, self-assessed test handsomely, albeit not quite with an A*.
I predicted that, although no bigger or more powerful than a Ford Focus, the Evoque would perform like a proper 4X4 SUV but with car-like handling and an interior that makes you feel better about life as soon as you get in it. It would be neater and nippier than the usual Land Rover product, an engaging, socially acceptable Chelsea tractor that could do for Jaguar Land Rover what the Mini did for BMW. I was almost entirely right on this — just not quite right enough. I also predicted that I would still dislike the squashed rear (acknowledging I’m in a minority) and the fact that it’s impossible to have a full-size spare wheel. Right again. However, I failed to predict that within two minutes of getting behind the wheel I would be asking the question, what’s this car for? Nor that within ten miles I would have answered it.
It comes with two body styles, coupé and five-door, and three engines — two 2.2-litre diesels and a new 2.0-litre petrol. The diesels will be the most popular but its peak market customer, I felt, won’t begrudge a few quid extra for the speed and quietness of petrol. She lives in Chelsea or Knightsbridge, prefers an automatic with all the bits, wants five doors for the school run and 4WD rather than two (the 2WD option is a first for Land Rover) in case snow dusts the Cotswolds at the weekend.