Our thoughts on how these cars look shouldn’t carry much weight, but the ways in which they fill what is essentially a common footprint – the Evoque’s extra 159mm of width is the only notable exterior discrepancy – could barely be more different.
And in such an image-conscious market, it’s hard to argue that the Evoque’s arresting aesthetic isn’t a major reason why it’s the fastest-selling used car in the UK. Sure, this new Qashqai looks bolder than the über-conservative original, but beside the Evoque, it seems more than a little plain.
That theme continues inside. The Qashqai’s cabin is hard to fault for ergonomics, comfort and solidity, but its aesthetic anonymity means you’d struggle to pick it out in a line-up if you stuck gaffer tape over the steering wheel boss. Meanwhile, the Evoque serves up new levels of design and luxury.
There’s high-quality leather on the seats, dashboard and grab handles, and the cabin’s smart, geometric shapes contrast with the Qashqai’s faddier, swoopy lines.
Dinginess is a complaint that you could level against both interiors, and that sensation is heightened in the Evoque, with its smaller glass area.
Read the full Range Rover Evoque review
However, although the Range Rover’s squashed-sandwich profile means that there’s not much light in the back, it does allow for a decent amount of space – a six-footer can happily sit behind another with enough room above and in front, although the Qashqai offers a fair bit more legroom despite its fractionally shorter wheelbase.
The rear seats split and fold in both, boosting load space from 430 to 1585 litres in the Qashqai and from 575 to 1445 litres in the Evoque.
The Nissan’s space is more uniform and easier to access, and its two movable boot panels add flexibility, including the option to make an entirely flat floor with the seats folded, which the Range Rover can’t quite manage.
Litreage at the other end is less closely matched, but the Qashqai’s 1.6 makes a respectable 128bhp against the Evoque’s 148bhp 2.2, and the Nissan is actually quicker, taking 9.9sec to reach 62mph instead of the Evoque’s 11.2sec. In reality, both are nippy around town.
It’s only on the motorway that the Evoque’s extra 90kg and bulkier form start to tell, with the granular but well mannered engine straining when goaded while the Qashqai’s smoother unit springs on. Both exhibit turbo lag but pull comfortably from below 2000rpm and simmer down nicely in sixth.
Read the full Nissan Qashqai review
Shifting gear is far more rewarding in the Range Rover. Its stubby lever’s short throw is enjoyably compact and stocky whereas the Nissan’s longer action feels looser. So it is with the steering, the Evoque’s helm feeling much weightier than the Qashqai’s, even when the Nissan is in Sport mode.
Both set-ups are nicely progressive, though. Spirit these cars down a twisty road and the British-built Japanese offering yields the more car-like experience, containing roll and resisting dive better than Gaydon’s finest, but the Evoque’s greater track and wider tyres lend it higher limits of grip.
The flipside is that the Evoque has the comfier ride in all situations, smothering scars and ridges with a stately lope, and with only a slight tendency to fidget on the motorway to threaten the peace. The Qashqai’s ride niggles that bit more, most obviously in town, and, in sum, it feels tauter but less settled.
The Nissan boasts more gizmos. Items such as sat-nav, traffic sign recognition, auto low-beam, lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors (the standard Evoque gets rears only), panoramic roof and rear privacy glass are all included here but cost extra on the Range Rover.
Typically, the Evoque counters with luxury and style: leather, 18-inch alloy wheels and an 11-speaker audio system are standard fit. Those hungry for kit could defer to a higher-mileage Evoque equipped with the Tech pack and stay in the same price range. The pack cost £1900 from new and includes sat-nav, front parking sensors and rain-sensing wipers.
Official figures say that the Evoque will cost about 12 per cent more in fuel, and its higher emissions attract £130 in annual road tax to the Qashqai’s £30. Nissan London West charges £159 and £249 for the Qashqai’s alternating minor and major annual services.
Lookers Land Rover in Battersea, London, asks £392 and £515 for the Evoque, but that drops to £325 and £429 for cars more than three years old.
If you can stand those extra running costs, the Evoque is the clear winner. It’s a mite less practical and has less safety kit, but you’d never call it impractical or unsafe, and the luxury and comfort that it ladles on put it well beyond the Nissan’s reach.
Read Autocar's previous new versus used: Aston Martin V12 Vantage S or McLaren MP4-12C
Nissan Qashqai 1.6 dCi Acenta Premium
Price £25,155; 0-62mph 9.9sec; Top speed 118mph; Economy 64.2mpg; CO2 115g/km; Kerb weight 1535kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1598cc, turbodiesel; Power 128bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 236lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual
Range Rover Evoque eD4
Price £25,750 (price new: £27,995); 0-62mph 11.2sec; Top speed 112mph; Economy 56.5mpg; CO2 133g/km; Kerb weight 1625kg; Engine 4 cyls, 2179cc, turbodiesel; Power 148bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 280lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual
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