When Range Rover launched their mid-range Evoque SUV back in 2011 it was to considerable acclaim but our own immediate reaction was: “What an ugly car!”
With its high waistline and low roof, it really did look like an elephant had sat on it. Painted in seemingly ubiquitous white-on-white, its proportions looked all wrong to us.
But then our 2016 model year test car was delivered – and what a difference a paint job and some relatively minor styling changes can make. Finished in deep, dark red, with a black roof, the transformation from ugly duckling to handsome and purposeful beast was truly remarkable.
It’s now, undisputedly, a style icon, a truly posh SUV crossover whose original was designed, famously, with input from Victoria Beckham.
The Evoque comes in both three and five-door versions – tnere’s even a convertible – and there’s the option of either two-wheel or four-wheel power trains.
When it comes to engines, the one to go for is the 2.0-litre turbo diesel, which has plenty of oomph but, when nursed along by a light right foot can cover 67 miles on a gallon of fuel. The petrol turbo version will sprint to 62-mpd in a brisk 7.1 seconds.
It seemed odd for there to be no grab rail for the front seat passenger but, that aside, there’s nothing but good to be said about the super luxurious cabin. For starters, it’s roomier than you might expect, with even long-legged six-footers able to slot themselves into the back, where there is a choice between a bench for three or a pair of bucket seats. The boot, on the other side, is rather small.
Whether on or off-road, the Evoque is outstandingly sure-footed, and comfortable too. Ride and handling encourage confidence when pressing on, even when the asphalt turns to loose gravel or cloying mud.
Holding off some formidable competition – think Audi Q5, BMW X1 – the Evoque is sitting confidently on the top of the compact premium SUV league table. It’s Land Rover’s best seller by far – they just can’t make them fast enough to satisfy demand.
£30,545 will buy you the entry level five-door SE but you’ll need much deeper pockets if you should go for the range-topping fully-loaded Autobiography version the price ticket will be an eye-watering £51,145.
There’s a truckload of technological gadgetry to whack-up the price, including surround-view parking cameras and a duel view screen that allows the driver to view the sat-nav while the passenger enjoys what’s on the telly.