Our cars: Range Rover Evoque - March
Week ending March 27
Driven this week 711 miles
Range Rover Evoque review
This week, I took advantage of the boss being in New York for the motor show and ferried my two toddlers home in his Range Rover Evoque.
Needless to say, the driving comfort lived up to expectations, and while visibility is restricted by the large mirrors and chunky windscreen pillars, the Evoque was easy to manoeuvre around the various car parks, road works and tight spots that my commute throws at me. If I were to buy an Evoque, I would opt for the Surround Camera System for added peace of mind while reversing.
Best of all was seeing how much fun my boys had in the back. They really enjoyed the ride from their Group 1 car seats. The panoramic glass roof let light into the otherwise dark rear and the raked roof didn't impede their view of the world – either to the front or out of the sides. Fitting the seats was quick and the door openings were wide enough to accommodate the rather cumbersome boosters.
Week ending March 22
Driven this week 200 miles
I had a chance conversation the other week with Ralf Speth, the man in charge of the global Jaguar Land Rover empire. Apart from me criticising our Evoque's fuel economy and transmission ('Wait just a little while,' he advised with a smile, referring to the forthcoming nine-speed auto model), we got talking about our car's cabin.
Speth was delighted to hear that we'd gone for the tan leather/espresso dash top combination. He's a bit of a fan of that seat colour himself, it turns out, to the point where his next Evoque is going to have tan hide (albeit with unique non-contrasting tan stitching – one of the perks of running the company, I guess).
When I took our car to the Evoque club day last summer, the interior was the subject of much discussion – and more than a few of my fellow owners expressed regret that they'd gone for plain old black instead.
I know where they're coming from because, with 20,000 miles gone, our car's cabin still looks stylish – and it's wearing spectacularly well. Over the years I've seen countless brown leather finishes ruined by denim yet despite the fact that I wear jeans almost every day to work, the colour in our Evoque's seats has stayed absolutely untarnished. I loved that aspect of our car when it turned up, and I still love it now.
By John McIlroy
Week ending March 15
Miles this week 400
The Evoque has been on the What Car? fleet for the best part of a year, but I've rarely crossed paths with it for one reason or another. So, when I had a long trip ahead this week I resolved to become more familiar with our baby Rangie.
I was perfectly prepared to be cynical about it, dismissing it as mere style over function, but it's definitely much better than that.
For a start, it really does look sensational from every angle, and the interior (despite John McIlroy's slightly iffy colour choices) is a thing of beauty. It's more spacious than it looks from the outside too. However, I reckon the optional panoramic roof on our car is essential, because the interior is deeply dingy when the electric blind is drawn forward.
The Evoque excelled as a mile-mucher, too, although it's a little noisier than might be ideal, and the six-speed automatic gearbox does become a bit flustered sometimes when you ask the car to accelerate quickly or when you encounter a steep climb. However, that issue should be resolved by the nine-speed automatic 'box that's just around the corner.
The steering is much sharper than you might expect in an SUV, but you soon get used to it, and it allows you to place the car easily and accurately at speed, and it makes parking simple.
After a full day of on-and-off driving and around 280 miles, I grew to like the Evoque a lot more than I expected to; it was a stylish and comfortable companion, and it was reasonably quiet. The only misgiving I have now is that I managed to get through two thirds of a tank of diesel in that time, which is disconcerting. That nine-speeder can't come soon enough.
Week ending March 8
Driven this week 350
I took a phone call the other day from a nice chap at Guy Salmon, the dealer where we had our Evoque serviced a few weeks back. You may recall that I raised objections to the £500-plus bill I received for the work – particularly when we've heard of it being done more cheaply elsewhere.
Someone at Guy Salmon must have read this (rumbled – drat) because the polite caller got in touch to say they owed me money. 'Turns out that the service assistant was still relatively new,' said the rep, 'and when it came to putting in the cost code, he gave the system the code for Range Rover instead of Range Rover Evoque.
'That means we've charged you two hours' labour instead of one and a half, and at an increased rate to start with [not sure why that would be, Range Rover owners, are you?]. So there's about £80 plus VAT to put back in your account.'
That means the revised bill has ended up at £400, which is a bit more reasonable – though still more than £100 up on what Guy Salmon's Oxfordshire branch charged us to service the same engine in a Jaguar XF 2.2d. Good though the dealer rep was, he couldn't explain that one.
By John McIlroy
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