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Offering a two-wheel drive version of the Evoque may, at first glance, seem like brand-destroying madness given the years of 4x4 heritage associated with the Range Rover name. However, from a business perspective it is one seriously shrewd move.
Aimed squarely at buyers that must have the most efficient version, the front-wheel drive eD4-badged car will be the biggest-selling Evoque among company car drivers. That's not to say the 4x4 version, powered by the same 150hp 2.2-litre diesel engine, is particularly inefficient - it is still capable of 49.6mpg with CO2 of 149g/km - it's just that the eD4 car goes a step further. It has a CO2 figure of 133g/km, placing it three bands lower in terms of benefit-in-kind taxation, and fuel consumption of 56.5mpg. Couple this to a price drop of £735 and the monthly tax payments are £41 a month less than the 4x4 version for a 40% tax payer.
The car's range is increased too thanks to the better mpg stat, but it's not by as much as you'd expect because rather than sticking with the 4x4's 58-litre fuel tank, the stop/start-equipped eD4 is fitted with a 55-litre version, which equates to almost 700 miles between fills if you achieve the official mpg.
The fuel tank isn't the only thing that's been tweaked in the front-drive Evoque. The 2.2-litre diesel engine, while still pushing out 150hp, is detuned in terms of shove or torque. This makes no obvious real-world difference to performance even if the top speed and 0-62mph times are fractionally worse.
If you do use the available power the front-drive version will spin an inside wheel when accelerating out of tighter corners in the dry before the traction control corrects the situation; this does not happen in the four-wheel drive version. However, the lack of traction is the only downside to the front-drive car, and the rest of the driving experience is identical to the all-wheel-drive version, which means minimal body roll, a comfortable ride and sharp steering. There's long gearing too, with the engine sitting well below 2000rpm at 70mph in sixth gear.
This means relaxed and efficient motorway work should be possible.
The only difference between the high-quality interiors is that the buttons to control the off-road 4x4 system have been replaced by a metal plate showing the 'Evoque' badge.
Thanks to its looks, both inside and out, the Evoque has given Range Rover an order bank that other car makers can only dream of. And now that these looks can be had at an even lower price, with a lower tax rating, this model has to be the fleet choice in the sector - assuming you don't actually want to go off-road.
Range Rover Evoque 150PS 2.2 eD4 Prestige 5dr manual