Itâ€™s funny how an association with a particular person can colour opinions of a car. Links to Ayrton Senna didnâ€™t hurt the original Honda NSX in the eyes of fast car fans and Fordâ€™s Mustang has traded for decades on the gritty blue-collar cop Steve McQueenÂ connection.
By the same token, the Range Rover Evoque was revealed amid great pomp by Victoria Beckham, and instantly drew the attention of the style-conscious urbanites who could tell their Alexander McQueen from their Emporio Armani but had no intention of getting their Le Chameau wellies muddy.
Range Rover Evoque SD4 HSE Dynamic
Price: Â£48,250 (Â£53,740 as tested)
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Top speed: 135mph
0-60mph: 6.9 seconds
CO2 emissions: 153g/km
In other words, not for a scruffy hack who lives in the sticks and thinks a Louboutin is a type of french bread. Itâ€™s perhaps that chic city-centric association thatâ€™s always left me doubting whether I could really get on with the Evoque.
Still, Iâ€™m always ready to be proved wrong and, as is often the way with Land Roverâ€™s posh models, the Evoque did a good job of winning me over.
It all starts as soon as you climb in. Like all Range Rovers the Evoqueâ€™s trick is to make you feel youâ€™re somewhere a bit special, not just any old SUV. The seats are broad, comfortable and wrapped in high-grade leather, all the controls have that heavy, solid feel common across Range Rovers and the test car topped it off with a massive panoramic glass roof. The driving position is excellent and you sit unashamedly high up, something some SUVs seem to be trying to mask. It all clicks in a way that says: â€œyes, this isnâ€™t just another SUV.â€
The ride doesnâ€™t have the supreme smoothness or refinement of its biggest brother but the Evoque is still pliant, quiet enough and comfortable. Driver and passengers could cover long distances with ease.
Itâ€™s an ease helped by the test carâ€™s particular engine. The Evoque is available with various engines but ours featured the slightly unnecessary 237bhp SD4. Itâ€™s far quicker than it really needs to be, with a 0-60mph of less than seven seconds, but the plentiful power and torque give it a level of effortlessness that lesser units just canâ€™t match. Of course, thereâ€™s a downside and thatâ€™s a diesel engine that canâ€™t return more than 40mpg over a week of mixed use.
The other downside is that this â€“ the baby in the Range Rover family â€“ makes you pay for the special feeling. Our test car was north of Â£53,000Â Â£9,000 more than an entry-level Velar. Yes, you get that â€œspecialâ€ feeling and kit including a panoramic roof, extended leather kit and a heated steering wheel but itâ€™s a lot for a car that still doesnâ€™t have tech such as keyless entry or powered tailgate (tech, incidentally, that the â€œlesserâ€ Discovery Sport does get).
Of course, if your budget runs more to Sporty Spice than Posh Spice an entry level Evoque without the flash interior, engine or kit of the test car can be yours for Â£31,500.
Whatever your budget youâ€™ll get a car that remains as instantly recognisable now as when it was first launched. The Evoqueâ€™s styling has always been divisive but a mid-life facelift has helped give it a more serious butch look, helped by our test carâ€™s Kaikoura Stone paintjob. Itâ€™s still better looking from head-on though, in profile the high beltline gives the rear a pinched look thatâ€™s echoed in an enclosed feeling in the back seats.
At launch the Evoque was all about its styling but beneath the looks and celebrity association thereâ€™s substance too. If you can stomach the steep asking price youâ€™ll get a high-class machine that cossets its passengers and fits right in to the high-fashion world at which itâ€™s targeted.