You tend to get a very different perspective on a car when it clocks up most of its mileage crawling in city traffic, and so it has proved with the Evoque, which has spent much of its time confined to London. It quickly became evident that out on the motorway the D180 is an accomplished cruiser; smooth, assured and relaxing. Although just 4,371mm long, the Evoque sometimes feels like a much larger SUV thanks to its composure and air of calm on dual-carriageways, with its cushioning ride and road presence. It just has that ‘big car’ feel.
But in town where this ‘high hours low miles’ one does most of its work it ‘shrinks’. Tackling central and outer London on a daily basis it has proved very easy to park (the rear-view camera and sensors help) and, coupled with its short overhangs (great for off-roading), the nicely weighted power steering makes it very manoeuvrable too. This explains why it’s become such a popular car in and around UK towns; it’s the clever compromise between running a big, full-blown SUV and a smaller family hatchback.
It has the smart badge, proper off-road credentials, decent equipment levels, luxury feel and cachet that the former offers, and all the nippy, easy-going practicality of the latter. It’s not just its size and manoeuvrability that make the Evoque a good choice for those living in towns or with limited space, however; the little things make a big difference too. Qualities such as the good outward vision – thanks in part to its height and its wide-angle ClearSight rear view mirror – make motoring in London more pleasant; who wants to be stuck in traffic at ground level where you can’t see anything?
I’ve positively enjoyed being able to plug my iPhone into Apple CarPlay, not just to use apps such as the traffic-beating Waze, but to play my own music and enjoy Spotify. When it goes back, I shall miss the two big infotainment screens – handy for controlling functions including the navigation system, Terrain Response and climate controls. I shall miss the feeling of being cosseted, the pleasure of seeing a crisp silhouette of the Evoque projected onto the pavement from the mirrors at night and the efficient, fast-acting de-mist function, not to mention effective heated seats in winter.
The diesel engine is a reasonably refined one; mostly it remains largely inaudible; only when revved hard does it lose some of its upmarket gloss and – like most diesels – it makes for relaxed progress.
Dislikes? I’ve had a few. The automatic gearbox is slow to engage reverse in hurried three-point turns (the indicator shows it’s in R but on steep cambers, for instance, the car still rolls forward momentarily before properly engaging). My six-foot-plus son feels slightly cramped in the back and the dashboard sometimes reflects onto the windscreen. These are minor quibbles and a brief drive in a relative’s older, previous-model Nissan Qashqai reminded me just how plush and how superior the Evoque truly is.
Few of us in crowded London have the luxury of being able to run two cars, one for city life, another for high days and holidays, but the Evoque meets both demands. I have just one regret; this piece should have been accompanied by muddy pictures of the Evoque at the Land Rover Experience Centre, where I was scheduled to put its four-wheel-drive system to the ultimate test. The plan, of course, was derailed by Covid which has confined us to home in London. So, we are thankful for all those built-in creature comforts that make city driving such a pleasure…
Date arrived 16th July 2020
Economy (WLTP combined) 38.2-41.5mpg
Economy (On test) 31.0mpg