Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
Every engine is either a 2.0-litre petrol or a 2.0-litre diesel; they only vary in the amount of power they produce. For reference, the petrols are prefixed with a P, the diesels with a D. Don't ignore the entry-level 148bhp D150 diesel because it’s smooth around town and still has enough punch to manage longer motorway journeys with little fuss. But the 178bhp D180 is our favourite; it's not as quick as the XC40 D4 but feels more than flexible enough in the mid range, has the poke for reasonably crisp overtaking and will happily sit all day long at 70mph on the motorway. We think the extra performance it brings makes it worth it over the D150. The 237bhp D240 is pretty rapid if you need more oomph.
As for petrols, the P200 is quicker than any of the diesels (bar the most powerful D240) if you rev it hard. What it’s low on, compared with even the lower-powered diesels, is pulling power at lower speeds – if you tow a caravan or trailer do bear that in mind. Its performance is also marred by a hesitant automatic gearbox, which is more frustrating to use in the quicker petrols than it is in the diesels. You can also buy a 247bhp (P250) or a 296bhp (P300) petrol, but we're yet to try them.
Suspension and ride comfort
The standard suspension is impressive for the class, just try and stick with the smaller 17in or 18in alloy wheels if you want the best ride quality. Even with these, it's fair to say that the XC40 is a little smoother over potholes, but the Evoque is better controlled and doesn't sway about so much over uneven roads. It also rides speed bumps with more grace and stays very nicely settled on motorways. If you add 20in wheels the ride is far from a deal breaker, but you get more fidget at speed and the car becomes more prone to thudding over sharp-edged ridges.
At present we've only tried the adaptive suspension combined with enormous 21in wheels, and it wasn't any better than the standard set up. Again, smaller wheels might tell a different story.
It’s no Porsche Macan through the corners, but like a Volvo XC40, the Evoque handles quite assuredly— there's a fair bit of body lean but no great shortage of grip. The steering is also accurate and appropriately geared – not too slow but not too quick – but does try to return to centre a little aggressively, which takes a bit of getting used to.
You’d expect a Range Rover to be jolly good off road, too, and sure enough, the Evoque can tackle terrain that would leave an XC40 flummoxed and a BMW X1 disabled. Its Terrain Response 2 system can automatically tailor the car’s four-wheel drive setup to suit the surface you’re driving on; it also has more ground clearance than most rivals and can wade through an impressive 600mm of water (150mm more than an XC40).
If you tow a caravan the Evoque can pull up to 2000kg, which isn't a best-in-class figure, but it will be one of the most stable cars when towing that kind of weight.
Noise and vibration
The D150's stop-start system isn't as smooth as it is in the D180 and D240 (these have mild hybrid technology that fires the engine very unobtrusively). The D180 and D240 are also quieter than the D150 — in fact, they're much quieter than rival diesels in the XC40 and BMW X1. The petrol Evoques are even smoother and quieter at low speeds, but ask a lot of them and they can get a bit gruff at higher revs.
The Evoque is a relatively peaceful cruiser in other respects, too, generating a lot less road noise than the XC40 or BMW X1 on the motorway. There isn’t much wind noise, either, although you can hear the suspension working away along pockmarked roads.
There is one fly in the Evoque’s otherwise calming ointment: its gearbox. The stop-start system has a predilection to killing the engine when the speed drops to around 10mph — its assumption being that you’re about to come to a halt. Yet if the road ahead clears and you hit the accelerator, while the engine starts slickly, the gearbox drops into drive with an annoying jolt.