A FEW cars – very few – look so captivating that queues of buyers form the moment the first grainy spy pictures are published in the motoring mags.
It happened with the new(ish) and (not so mini) Mini and, in another price universe, many new Ferraris are bought before anyone’s seen them in the metal.
Well, here’s another. The new Range Rover Evoque has hardly hit the road, yet 10,000 Brits (and 30,000 fans worldwide) have ordered a car and you’ll have to wait six months to stop the Evoque itch if you ask for one now.
It’s always struck me as daft to put down a deposit for a car before you’ve tried it; you might find the seat gives you instant backache, or you can’t stand the ride. But thousands have taken the new baby Rangie on trust – and the evidence of those early snaps.
To anyone who has done just that, there’s good news: you can breath a sigh of relief. You’re going to love your new Evoque and you’ll need something badly wrong with your posture not find a comfy driving position.
And even with the great big alloy wheels that make it look so... achingly of the moment, you may be surprised at the supple way it tackles the bumpy road home from the local Land Rover dealer.
Priced from a reasonable sounding £27,995, the Evoque comes in two distinct styles. The more practical one, with four passenger doors and more room in the rear is the cheaper choice, while the Coupe sheds a couple of doors and costs £995 more, but looks every inch the catwalk queen.
Striking enough to cause every teenage schoolboy just turned out of school on a Scottish lunchtime during the press launch drive to nudge his mate and point. I’m sure they approved (the girls simply didn’t notice).
That temptingly modest entry price is likely to remain more a showroom come-on than realistic final bill, even if the Pure version it buys actually comes pretty well equipped.
Standard fare includes the unexpected luxury of leather trim, while 18 inch alloys, heated front seats, 11 speaker sound system with DAB radio and rear parking peepers feature too.
There’s a big price leap to the Prestige level (more than £7,600) which adds bigger alloys, sat nav, better leather, xenon lights, metallic paint and a reversing camera, along with a host of styling tweaks.
For the same price there’s a Dynamic version which brings still bigger wheels, along with adaptive damping which lets you firm the suspension while it does clever things with the shock absorbers.
The baseline Evoque has only two-wheel drive, but that may not matter much to a potential buyer; all the rest have all-wheel traction good enough to cope with more than an owner will ever ask.
Engines include a petrol unit but one of the two diesels will take most of the sales. Gears are either DIY or a smooth auto box, with only a minority of buyers opting for a clutch and gearlever.
The higher powered diesel pulls the Evoque along convincingly but the big surprise was the ride; good on good roads (some cars aren’t) but brilliant on the pockmarked surfaces that make up so much of Britain’s transport infrastructure these days.
Add in a lack of rock and roll from a relatively tall vehicle and an interior so smart it almost out-Audis Audi and there’s more than surface attraction to this most welcome of newcomers.