What is it?
A turbodiesel engine seems the obvious choice for any weighty SUV, with inherent economy and a strong, torquey delivery. But the Range Rover Evoque, the genre-busting 'statement car' with the wedgy waistline, compressed glasshouse and hefty wheelprint, plays by different rules.
Have we fallen for the hype? No, but we have now driven the Evoque with the 2.0-litre Ford Ecoboost turbo petrol engine with 237bhp and 251lb ft of torque on tap. This engine dramatically alters the Evoque's character, playing to the strengths of taut, agile handling overlaid on proper off-road ability.
What’s it like?
It takes just a few hundred yards to sense this fastest Evoque's eager pace and the crisp revvability of its engine. It's matched to a six-speed automatic gearbox which, set to S mode and manually triggered with paddle-shifters, complements the engine's efforts well. Upshifts are quick, firm but smooth, downshifts are also quick but suffer through a lack of proper revs-matching as the lower gear engages.
Our test Evoque here is running on 19in wheels and passive dampers, and with an engine lighter than the diesel it turns into corners and holds on tight in a way almost astounding for an SUV. The steering is always precise and confident – it's one of the better electric systems – and only occasionally do you sense the Evoque's height. It feels like a big hot hatchback with an especially good vantage point, and the damping is beautifully controlled at all speeds.
Should I buy one?
This is JLR dynamics guru Mike Cross's favourite Evoque version, even though it is also the thirstiest. All the stranger, then, that in the UK all petrol Evoques will come only in Dynamic trim with adaptive Magneride dampers and 20in wheels, and this optimum version is denied to us. Time for a marketing re-think, maybe?
Range Rover Evoque Si4
Price: from £38,995; Top speed: 135mph; 0-62mph: 7.6sec; Economy: 32.5mpg; Co2: 199g/km; Kerbweight: 1640kg; Engine: type, cc: 4cyl 16V DI turbo, 1999cc; Power: 237bhp; Torque: 251lb ft; Gearbox: 6sp auto