What is it?
You're looking at just about the most radical off-the-shelf version of the JLR's hugely successful Range Rover Evoque yet, what with its standard metallic black body, red roof, red accents on the lower body and a standard set of 20in black alloys. It also introduces the latest infotainment pack introduced in last year's Evoque Convertible, and brings in an important refinement to the 4x4 Terrain Response system called Low Traction Launch, a winter-friendly improvement if ever there was one. There are petrol and diesel versions of the Ember Edition; we tested the latter. Both engines are from JLR's own 2.0-litre Ingenium range made in-house at its Wolverhampton plant.
Limited-edition models are rare for JLR, so one could be forgiven for thinking that this one might mainly be intended to add a little extra lustre to a model that has been around, largely unaltered, since 2011, and which might just have lost a little of its appeal both to sheer familiarity and particularly to the newer (and even more popular) Land Rover Discovery Sport, which is made on the same Halewood production line. However, the company insists the model - and its top end price - is designed to add an extra sporty flavour to the Evoque range, the total sales of which now amount to around 550,000 units.
What's it like?
Like no other Evoque you've ever seen, is the short answer. The black wheels and body make it look compact and purposeful against other Evoques, let alone the slightly longer Discovery Sport, and the Red accents lift the whole treatment. Inside, the Ember majors on black Oxford leather for the seats, which have contrasting red stitching. The feeling of modernity is continued by the new 10.2in panoramic central infotainment touchscreen. The front seats adjust easily and have comfortable cushions, but one front passenger complained of a lack of lumbar support on a 100-mile journey. The sear seats are decent, and well sited so kids can see out of the windows, but they don't really have sufficient knee room for fully grown adults.
Our 178bhp diesel test car isn't the most powerful or fastest version of the two Ember special-edition models available. That honour goes to the similar capacity, 237bhp petrol turbo model that can lay down a 0-60mph acceleration time of 7.1sec (with the nine-speed automatic gearbox), beating the diesel by a decisive 1.4sec. However, the diesel's advantage is its torque - 317lb ft against 251 - and there is also a decisive difference in fuel economy: the petrol model's combined figure of 36.2mpg contrasts with the diesel's 57.7. Small wonder there's also a fair-sized difference in CO2 output: 134g/km for our diesel test car against 181.
The Ember diesel feels fast and effortless, mostly because it has a ready supply of both gear ratios and low-end torque. The effect of both is that the Ember feels as if it is propelled very easily. Overtaking is simple, while in a steady-state cruise, it runs at low revs and feels long-legged and relaxing. Early criticism of the Ingenium engines as rather too vocal seems to have been addressed, if our test car is typical.
In handling terms, the Evoque shows little sign that its six years of life have slowed it as a driving machine. There's a zest and an agility about it that is enhanced by nicely weighted, accurate steering, and the lack of overhangs and built-in stability make it an easy car to drive in tight conditions. It's wider than some others in its class, but its straight sides and good visibility make up for that. It also resists body roll well and corners near-neutrally. The Ember rides flat, and its suspension is well-damped, but there's little doubt it would be less surface-sensitive if it had 18 or 19in alloys rather than the (admittedly handsome) black-spoked 20in ones.
Should I buy one?
The Evoque still looks great and has plenty of kudos, so if you like the Ember specification, the model probably makes a decent choice. But if the £47,200 price seems steep, and some of the model's gadgetry strikes you as unnecessary or irrelevant, there is undoubtedly money to be saved. With the help of the website configurator, you could save yourself several thousand pounds. But if you're seeking motoring enjoyment, there's no doubt the Evoque's still got it.
Range Rover Evoque TD4 Ember Edition auto
Location Cotswolds; On Sale Now Price £47,200 Engine 4cyl, 1999cc, turbo, diesel Power 178bhp at 4000rpm Torque 317lb ft at 1750 Gearbox 9-spd automatic Kerb weight 1674kg 0-62mph 8.5sec Top speed 121mph Economy 57.7mpg (combined) CO2/tax band 134g/km, 21% Rivals BMW X1, Volkswagen Tiguan