What better way to test an SUV than by taking the family on a day out with some friends and a picnic lunch? Sounds good, so that’s what we decided to do – destination: Cotswold Farm Park.
However, it was a British Bank Holiday, so it rained.
A fully outdoor farm park in the rain does not sound like fun, so a hasty rethink saw us making the trip instead to Cattle Country. Same friends, same car, but a more ‘rain-friendly’ location. It was cold and it was wet, so we decided the only sensible option was to head to Simpsons Fish and Chips in Cheltenham. That at least proved sensible and not rain affected!
But anyway… the car. The Range Rover Evoque SD4 Lux.
Now I thought I’d driven cars with a lot of toys before, but so far nothing compares to this. It redefines fully loaded – any spec sheet that includes a TV system for the front passenger on the same screen that the driver can see the navigation has to be lengthy! Then there are the five cameras for full 360 degree parking visibility, auto-park and blind spot sensors, which are to my mind an excellent safety measure.
I was expecting a fairly firm ride – this is ultimately an off-road capable SUV after all. But n fact the ‘general’ setting on the ride control delivered at least as much comfort as any modern family saloon, and the seats were perfect too – but with an 8-way electronic adjustment, they should be!
So it has all the toys you could possibly want (plus a few you hadn’t thought of) with looks that are sure to stand out, but with all those bells and whistles, how does it actually perform as a car? Very well actually! There are a couple of niggles, but I have yet to find a car with none.
The power delivery was good, but could have been a little smoother, but then this is a fairly big, fairly heavy diesel, so maybe I was expecting too much. And after 30 minutes or so behind the wheel, you anticipate this and compensate. The other niggle would be the navigation. The driver display on the dash and the main map screen, with junction instructions were good, but at a few points it didn’t give the correct instructions, or failed to identify roundabouts at all. Again, a minor thing, and doesn’t detract that much from the experience of driving this car.
And that is what it was… an experience, and an enjoyable one at that. The driving position is great – good visibility, even out of the slightly squashed rear windscreen, but that prove to be an issue, even when reversing. The wing mirrors and cameras more than make up for that, making maneuvering in an SUV as easy as a family hatchback.
As far as driver comfort goes, it was excellent. Every control was at my fingertips, and the touchscreen controls were logical and well designed. Regardless of which part of the system you are in, the home screen is only ever one button away. Without doubt, the cabin is a lovely place to be – all the materials are high quality, feel good and look great. The storage areas are generous, the leg room is excellent, the boot is… well, it’s adequate, but not massive. Big enough for a family of four with a buggy, but not with much room to spare. This wouldn’t be a problem when the family gets a little older as we can lose the buggy – and I can’t wait for that… the ease of leaving the house without feeling like you’re mobilising a small army is something I dream of!
So to sum up, there are a couple of very minor niggles, but to be honest, I feel bad bringing them up because the whole experience of driving the car was fantastic and I loved it – I really did. I will be interested to try out the convertible Evoque when it arrives… but maybe not until the weather has improved – a lot.