Why the revised Evoque could 'cut bills by €4,000'
First drive... in Spain
Mid-life changes in cars, like those in humans, are fraught with danger. If there isn't enough change, all the effort and pain can seem pointless and come to represent a wasted opportunity.
The dilemma was probably more acute than usual for Range Rover with the Evoque because of the near-untouchable design of their SUV/Crossover.
But a mid-life lift it has been given and I've just been driving it. I think they have done just enough to have rung the changes without materially affecting the looks. And that is vital because this broke a few design moulds initially with its sharply-raked roof as both a 5dr and 2-dr Coupe.
The latest versions will get here by the end of the month so you'll have plenty of time to sample before deciding if you want one in January.
The good news is that prices will not rise in line with what are improved spec (new infotainement system) and, more importantly, a new 2-litre Ingenium diesel engine range under the bonnet.
That means prices start at €41,745 for the entry-level (Pure) 2WD Coupe 150bhp version (109g/km; road tax €170). The 180bhp 4WD (125g, €270 road tax) starts at €56,835 in SE Plus spec.
Five-door versions begin at €42,190 for the 150bhp 2WD Pure entry level (113g/km, €200 road tax) and from €44,865 for the 4WD. The 180bhp 4WD (125g/km, €270 road tax) starts at €46,875.
They have yet to finalise full spec but leather will be standard on, and from, second-tier SE trim.
You may be surprised to hear that most people are going for the 4WD versions (as high as 9:1). The opposite is the case among many rivals, where 80pc are 2WD. And a lot more men (45pc) are buying the Evoque despite a perception it is a womens' favourite.
If any current owners of 2WDs - men or women - could have seen where I drove this on Monday they'd be mightily surprised. Over a technically difficult, rocky route in the hills around Montserrat near Barcelona, it was impressively grippy and agile. It showed a lot of faith in the car - and its ground clearance and pulling power - to let me loose in that sort of territory. Of course few will ever have to drive under such circumstances but I am letting you know by way of assurance anyway.
The more powerful 180bhp 4WD auto version took everything in its stride with ease. Indeed we availed of a system that let it climb up slopes at its own pace - all you do is steer.
The new engine is a good deal quieter than the old; especially in the 150bhp - the 180bhp had a bit of an edge. There was loads of pulling power, even in sixth gear going up sweeping on-road slopes.
Inside they have tidied up the cabin without doing anything too radical. The marque's InControl infotainment system promises much but wasn't in our test cars.
The front has taken most visual change on board with a different grille and light layout an indication of styling for future models, I'm told. I'm not 100pc sure if it looks as much a 'Range Rover' as the current one. There is a sleeker look to the back but nothing dramatic.
Because the new engines are lighter they have been able to tweak the suspension front and back (revised bushings etc) to effect a more supple ride on the tarmac. They have also evened out weight distribution. The 4WD made a big difference, on road as well as off, in terms of assured grip.
The new engines will affect your pocket too. They reckon the better fuel consumption and extension of service intervals to 20,000km can cut costs by €4,000 over three years.
Overall then, they've done enough to generate meaningful, as opposed to cosmetic, change.
I think the new look and, especially, the more frugal 2-litre diesels give it an edge.
Demand for the Evoque has been such, since launch four years ago, that they have had extra shifts at the factory to increase supply. So they have sensibly not tried to fix something where it wasn't broken,
But if it can save you €4,000 - or even half that - on running costs, then I think it will be viewed as a worthwhile mid-life revision.