The entry-level front-wheel drive version of the Range Rover Evoque may not have its more expensive 4x4 siblings' off-road bragging rights, but with a lower price, lighter weight, better economy and emissions and more nimble handling, it has an awful lot going for it and, for many, will be the more pragmatic choice.
You don't need a degree in astro-physics to appreciate the emissions and economy advantages of a front-wheel drive model and, if we're being properly pragmatic, most of them will never tackle anything more arduous than a gravel driveway, so it makes solid sense to offer a front-wheel drive variant. Such is the brilliance of Land Rover's electronic control systems, it would take some quite extreme conditions before even a front-driven Evoque could continue no further.
The eD4 is powered by a 149bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine that drives to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. Losing the extra driven wheels makes it 75kg lighter than the equivalent 4x4 Evoque and it feels slightly more nimble as a result with a marginally more supple ride. Performance isn't startling – 0-62mph in 11.2s and a top speed of 112mph – but the engine pulls well from low speeds and is impressively refined. And, of course, there's a significant payback at the pumps with an eight mpg saving over the all-drive Evoque with essentially the same engine.
The key difference between the five-door and the three-door model, aside from the obvious aperture count, is the amount of room in the back of the car. Land Rover hasn't freed up any additional legroom, but the roofline has been subtly re-profiled to liberate 30mm of additional headroom. The 'tumblehome', or amount of angle on the side windows, has also been reduced, which means another 50mm of shoulder room in the back. The impression of space and airiness is helped by a full-sized glass panoramic roof.
The Range Rover Evoque has delivered on all fronts for Land Rover, pulling the rug so violently from under the wheels of its less stylish rivals, you wonder if they'll ever recover.
They will, of course, but in the meantime the Evoque is stealing a notable march and is most definitely one of the cars to be seen in. Looking great usually means making compromises. Land Rover has chosen the Evoque's compromises very cleverly indeed.