The Range Rover Evoque or baby Range Rover as it’s also known was launched three years ago to much accolade. Granted it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but nothing ever is. I liked it from the time the first release pictures hit the web and on through my first drive off road in one.
That was two years ago. I hadn’t really had much to do with an Evoque in the subsequent months but whenever conversations with people headed, as they usually do with me, to Land Rover products and Range Rovers there is one question (in a few forms) that comes up again and again and again and…………you get the idea. Apart from my Dad who had always thought rear windows and rear view mirrors for that matter are superfluous to a vehicle as “you’re already past it”. Personally I’m not worried about having vision through the rear window as I seldom use the rear view mirror and prefer to rely on both wing mirrors. Probably comes from years of driving artics where the wing mirrors are your only option and in my opinion, far less deceptive.
“Isn’t that back window too small?”
“Isn’t that window pointless?”
“Surely that rear window is about as much use as a chocolate fire guard?”
And on go the questions. All asking the same thing. Now most of my Evoque experience I admit had been off road but the rear window dimensions, whilst visibly small, never hit me in my memory as having been a problem or an issue.
Had Land Rover’s design team made a huge faux pas and designed a rear window as useful as an Austin Allegro’s square wheel? Or had they actually designed something that deceptively did the job it was supposed to?
The only solution was to borrow an Evoque for a week and see how “that” window was to live with.
So, those nice people at Land Rover delivered to me a 2012 five door SD4 model and left me to play and assess the window. It would also give me a good chance to live with an Evoque for a week and use it in situations that the majority of those sold would be used in. That is, on motorways, round country lanes and in cities. I’m confident in saying I would estimate that fewer that 5% of Evoques sold will ever see any terrain trickier than a gravel drive or a grassy field and the occasionally surprising British winter snow fall. Which is a shame, as it’s a very capable vehicle off road but most owners will never have cause to use it as such. That said, the same can probably be said of the the majority of the three Range Rovers and Freelanders sold. Still, I suppose in many ways their off road skills and abilities are a bit like a lift raft on a boat. You might seldom or even never use it, but it’s nice to know it’s there when you NEED it!
Anyway, back to the task in hand, or should that be, in eyes? After all, that’s the tool that uses the window.
The window at it’s maximum measures a mere 1000mm wide x 280mm high which compared to a Discovery 4’s rear window at 1170mm x 480mm at it’s largest (not counting the step down), is quite a difference. But does it MAKE a difference in driving?
The Evoque is a deceptive vehicle. The sloping windows give the impression that headroom may suffer internally but that’s far from the case. In fact, an adult can comfortably sit in the back seats and not be bashing their head on the moon roof as you proceed down the road. So how does the rear window fare in visibility? I’m not going to lie. It does have a smaller field of view than a larger window. That’s probably the most obvious thing I can say but what do you see then? More to the point, what is missing?
Sky! A large amount of the “missing” field of view through the rear window would usually be devoted to showing you sky or far distant traffic. Both things that are fairly unimportant in the day to day driving forwards that you’ll be doing so you’re not missing out there. As for the rest of the “missing” field of view, granted, some of it is near vehicle but if there is something in the now blind area, you’ll see it’s window and roof at the very least unless it’s stupidly low and trying to examine the suspension of the Evoque as it would have to be REALLY close to not be seen.
So the window isn’t really an issue then. Once you’re used to it it’s no problem at all.
So how about the rest of the vehicle. One thing about the Evoque is it now comes with a spare wheel as an option rather than a standard fitment. As standard instead, you’ll get extra storage space in the well that the wheel would use and a puncture fill kit comprising of a tube of “goo” and a mini compressor to re-inflate a flat once the “goo” has been despatched to do it’s job.
Make no mistake about this car’s heritage though. It’s through and through a Range Rover. Spec’d to the hilt with gadgets and gizmos from the wonderful moon roof for the kids to plane spot through, right through to the dual view front monitor, allowing the passenger to watch tv and listen through the supplied BlueTooth headphones whilst the driver can listen the Ken Bruce and watch the sat nag (deliberate typo!).
Something that my other half pointed out the second she got in the car was the lack of a grab handle over the passenger, or any, door. She was quite adamant that this would be a requirement for her in a vehicle however the thousands of Evoques sold to date, lay testament to the fact that the public at large don’t care about this. Or at least not to the point that it effects a buying decision.
How about general driving. Well, in the time I had it, over 600 miles it returned a not unreasonable 34 to the gallon. Land Rover HQ estimate it is capable of 40mpg and I don’t doubt that. Much of my mileage was at 70mph on a motorway so not the most economical of driving situations.
As with all most LR models these days you have the terrain response system which on the Evoque includes a motorway option. This optimises the ride and ECU for motorway driving and makes sure you know you’re in “motorway” mode by turning the surrounds for the speedo and tacometer from white to red! (Yes, small things etc)
Other, more useful features for driving on the model I tested include a blind spot warning where a little light illuminates in the wing mirror when there is a vehicle in the blind spot. It works too. There are also 5 cameras around the vehicle, more for manoeuvring than driving and speaking of manoeuvring, this model had the park assist feature and it works! Even with my dad driving. How does it work? When seeking to parallel park on the nearside, you press the park assist button. This starts to scan spaces as you drive past them, looking for a suitable gap. (trust me, it finds gaps smaller than I’d try and squeeze a £40k+ car into!)
When it locates a gap, it beeps at you and a message on the dash tells you to drive forwards and then beeps to tell you to stop. Now you are instructed to engage reverse, let go of the wheel and release the brake. This is the fun bit where with the precision of KITT (remember Knight Rider??) the Evoque beautifully steers into the gap it found. You are then told when to stop and hey presto, parked. Beats the 30 mins recently for a parking manoeuvre recently going viral as a video on the interweb!
Obviously common sense must prevail and you do actually need to observe for small children, pedestrians, animals, Suzukis and all the other things a Land Rover could reverse over.
One “gadget” I loved, used a lot but really really don’t need was the self opening tailgate (small things etc remember)
So to summarise, rear window – no problem, drivability – excellent, comfort – sublime, bloke toys – many, MPG – acceptable. Would I have one. Maybe.