Finally after all the hype, high profile reveals, 'Pulse of the City' marketing, promotional events and the completion of early consumer and media test drives, the stylish Range Rover five door Evoque and three door Evoque Coupe models are ready for delivery.
Around 10,000 have already been advance ordered in the UK, a third of the total global orders to date.
Prices and targets
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Prices range from £27,955 up to £39,995 but that hasn't put customers off even in these recessionary times. About a third of early adopters are expected to be women as Land Rover attempts to target a new audience with its latest model.
Although fashionable and glitzy, both Evoque models are loosely based on the family workhorse, the Land Rover Freelander, but the target sales audience is miles apart and the only common factor is that they are both SUVs and most Evoques will be 4x4s.
However some company car and fleet users will opt for the less taxing 2WD diesel 129 to 133g/km of CO2 Evoque variants, due early next year, and Land Rover sees a sales opportunity in this area where certain fleets have not been allowed to buy 4x4 vehicles.
You get a flavour of the image created for the Evoque from the fact that Victoria Beckham has consulted on some 'posh spicy' interior styling treatments so look for a VB special edition in the future. Equestrian star, rugby player's wife and a 'Royal' - Zara Phillips has also one on order.
One of the 'red carpet' launches of the Evoque range was held at Harvey Nichols London department store where celebs, WAGs and the wealthy were on hand to welcome the Chelsea tractor home.
But let me assure you, all that glitters in regards to the performance of the Evoque is not fool's gold - in fact it is a bit of a gem.
Platform and popularity
It is loosely related to the highly capable Land Rover Freelander because it uses more or less the same platform, the same All Terrain Response system for 4WD versions, significantly revised versions (60% of components have been changed) of the 2.2-litre turbodiesel unit and a Ford 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine. And it is built in Britain which is good for jobs.
The Evoque has a marginally shorter wheelbase than the Freelander, so the rear seat legroom and boot space suffers. But it is a shade wider than the Freelander, offering more wallet or handbag space, and has shorter front and rear overhangs so the 4,355mm length is more compact for Sloane Street parking. It is also the lightest ever Land Rover model.
Around 80% of customers will go for one of the 2.2-litre, four cylinder turbodiesel engine options with 150 or 190bhp, most will be 4WD models and in the longer term ,there might be a sales bias towards the more user-friendly five door Evoque but currently the less practical but racy looking three door Coupe is holding its own with a 50-50 sales split.
There are Pure, Prestige and Dynamic levels of trim and equipment with most buyers to date going for the top spec and adding items from the comprehensive list of extra cost goodies - like the £450 panoramic glass roof for instance which has attracted 80% of buyers so far.
Emissions and running costs
Put through their paces on the streets of Edinburgh, the country roads and lanes and off roading in the Glens of the Scottish Borders by the UK's motoring media this week, the Evoques proved completely capable, well balanced, comfortable and spritely.
I tried the most likely best selling Evoque SD4 2.2-litre 190bhp turbodiesel unit with the 6-speed manual gearbox and Dynamic specification which is steeply priced at £37,380.
I also tried the Evoque SD4 Coupe with the same engine; same Dynamic trim level but with the £1,610, 6-speed auto gearbox and this model costs a very hefty £39,990.
Both returned exactly 30.1mpg, significantly down on the 50.2mpg for the Evoque and 44.3mpg for the Coupe official figures. CO2 emissions for this engine are 149g/km with the manual gearbox and 169g/km for the Coupe auto, so VED road tax will be £130 for the manual but £265 in the First Year rate and then £190 per annum after that for the automatic.
So the manual models have a distinct financial edge although the auto is a nicer drive. Benefit-in-Kind company car tax will be a minimum of 22%.
Off road performance
With all wheel drive in use at all times on the road and All Terrain Response available for bad driving conditions on or off road, plus Descent Control for off-roading, the plush Evoques are no softies when it comes to tough going.
They are just as capable and sure-footed as the workhorse Freelander. It is unlikely that Evoque owners are likely to venture too deep into the countryside, off the tarmac or long winding gravel driveways; more likely city shopping or luncheon trips, but the capabilities to cope with severe adverse weather conditions under all circumstances will be comforting. I rather suspect that trudging through deep snow to the ski slopes will be as severe as it gets for Evoque owners.
Styling and comfort
There has been significant attention paid to making the engines more refined and the traditional diesel engine high noise intrusion has been drastically reduced by additional sound-proofing in the engine compartment. So quiet is it that the wind noise intruding into the vehicle from the very large door mirrors was more noticeable.
My two test models were fitted with 19-inch alloy wheels and I would suggest these are the best and most comfortable size to go for as larger wheels tend to unsettle the ride. However style conscious buyers usually think bigger-is-best and I suspect that size will matter in this area and 20-inch wheels will be selected.
The very modern sharp exterior styling, the plush but compact five seater interiors and a very comprehensive level of equipment - too much to list, gives this baby Range Rover all the ownership appeal of the larger Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. Expect the styling of the Evoques to become the new vision for the next generation of Range Rovers.
Despite its high price the luxury spec Evoque and Evoque Coupe, Land Rover are confident their new up-market range will become their best selling models; outselling their current best seller - the Freelander - which has global annual sales of 65,000 units.
So it is just as well the company has the aspirational capability of building 106,000 Evoques a year in this country for world consumption which is good for Great Britain and the Indian industrial conglomerate of Tata, owners of Jaguar/Land Rover.
Range Rover Evoque 5-Door, SD4 190hp Dynamic 4WD manual. (Likely best selling model).
2.2-litre, four cylinder, turbodiesel 190hp (188bhp), 420Nm (310lb ft) of torque from 1,750rpm, 6-speed manual, permanent 4WD with All Terrain Response/Descent Control/Hill Start Assist.
124mph, 0-60mph 9.5 seconds, 50.2mpg (30.1mpg on test), CO2 149g/km, VED road tax £130, BIK company car tax 22%.
L 4,335mm, W 1,965mm, H 1,635mm, boot/load space 575 to 1445-litres, braked towing weight 1,800kg.
Image, startling good looks, sumptuous interior, strong and quiet engine, loads of all terrain technologies at your fingertips, compact and easy to park, comfortable ride on 19-inch wheels, built in Britain.
Snug inside with limited rear seat leg and head room, smallish boot space, wind noise intrusion, expensive.