EVER since the birth of our third child, I have become acutely aware that two’s company and three’s a crowd.
It seems that the world is designed for families that comprise solely of a mum, dad and two children. Family hotel room? No problem. Cabin on a ferry? Bon voyage. Add another infant to the equation, however, and suddenly the sums don’t add up.
This is especially true of cars. Driver and passenger may have plenty of leg room, but three bairns in the back inevitably means someone is in the squeezed middle, subject to elbow prods from siblings on both sides, and without a window of their own to sullenly glower through when warned from the front to stop squabbling or else.
The Range Rover Evoque Coupe I’m testing overcomes most of these problems by only having four seats. The fact there’s plenty of room to comfortably accommodate three people in the back is neither here nor there – with a total of four seatbelts in the cabin, that’s your lot. Clearly this completely rules the Coupe out of consideration as a family car for us – but whether this model would work even if we’d been sensible enough to stop at two children (or afford the £39,305 asking price – plus £4,650 for the Lux Pack, which includes powered tailgate, panoramic roof, dual-view touchscreen, digital TV, radio and satnav, surround camera, keyless entry and park assistance) – I’m not so sure.
With just the three doors and front seats that slide forward electronically at a snail’s pace, it is quite a palaver to fix a couple of kids in for the school run and extract them again shortly after. The boot is not big, and its button-operated powered tailgate is overly fussy about minor obstructions to the closing mechanism – it won’t shut until I reposition luggage in a more orderly fashion, whereas with a regular tailgate I would simply slam it down and hope for the best.
The satnav uses voice recognition, but for some reason refuses to recognise mine or my wife’s, and after a few fruitless minutes of clearly enunciated instructions, we give up and use the touchscreen instead.
In other cars, placing a heavy bag of shopping on the passenger seat can often be enough to confuse the computer into thinking there is someone sitting there not wearing a seat belt, leading to it emitting the standard warning. The Evoque seems super sensitive, however, and it starts beeping when I drive off from the supermarket with two bottles of wine and a roll of binbags on the seat, the combined weight of which can’t be more than a couple of kilograms. I know some Range Rover users may subscribe to the Duchess of Windsor’s opinion that you can never be too rich or too thin, but still…
There is also, however, much to like about the car, especially for lazy and forgetful drivers such as myself. The automatic setting for headlights means never having to think about switching them on or off, from the moment you get in the car until the moment you leave. Same for the windscreen wipers, which get to work as soon as the first patter of precipitation appears.
The steering is superb, the build super-solid, the suspension spot-on. The heated seats and steering wheel are a lovely luxury in winter, and there’s no need to scrape a frosty windscreen in the morning either – just turn the aircon to max demist, wait for about 90 seconds and you’re good to go after a few swishes of the wipers.
I like the keyless entry and ignition too – it’s especially practical for parents juggling children, schoolbags and shopping – and the dual-view digital TV is a boon for telly-addict families, with cunning parallax technology that allows everyone in the vehicle to view programmes normally when it is stationary, but prevents the driver from doing so while it is in motion.
Taking all this into account, if I had one fewer children and tens of thousands of pounds more disposable income, the Evoque Coupe could well be on my shopping list.
Car Range Rover Evoque 2.2 SD4 190 4WD Dynamic 3dr
Price £39,305 (£45,420 as tested)
Engine 2.2l diesel, 4cyl, 310lb ft 189bhp
Transmission 6 spd manual, 4WD
Performance Top speed 124mph; 0-62mph 9.5 seconds
CO2 emissions 149g/km