Top speed: 135mph
0-60mph: 7.1 seconds
CO2 emissions: 199g/km
Best for: Those prepared to wait for a good thing
Also worth considering? Audi Q5, BMW X3, Land Rover Freelander
First, a confession. I haven't actually driven Land Rover's Range Rover Evoque yet because this car's launch has been the modern equivalent of the Dance of the Seven Veils. In fact, I've already been to half a dozen motor shows or company events at which different aspects of this car have been revealed to drooling punters and motoring journalists. At the most recent, I was able to experience it from the passenger seat, but I don't expect to get behind the wheel until later this summer, a year after the first showing at a fancy Kensington Palace party. This sort of extended tease can only be sustained if the product concerned is exceptionally appealing – and the Evoque is.
What makes it special? Many of the parts you can't see are already familiar from the Land Rover Freelander, so really it's about the way it looks. The company has, in effect, taken its dramatic and beautiful LRX concept car and put it on the road. That sounds like a simple process, but it isn't. Concept cars are flights of fancy, used by designers to push the boundaries. They rarely take account of the practicalities of production or everyday use on the road but somehow, Land Rover has managed to solve all the problems without compromising the LRX's purity of form.
And what is it that the design of the Evoque is meant to evoke in the minds of potential customers? Visually, this car is clearly intended to tap directly into the enormous cachet that attaches to the Range Rover – that much is clear from familiar features such as the clamshell bonnet and "floating" roof. But the Evoque isn't a lazy retro job that merely plunders the rich store of goodwill that attaches to Land Rover's most luxurious model. Rather, it seems set to burnish the Range Rover name further, because despite being cheaper and smaller than any other car to carry that badge, the Evoque is the most stylish, sporty and agile Rangie ever.
Women, the fashion-conscious and city dwellers who wouldn't previously have bought a big Range Rover will be fighting to get their hands on this one. Land Rover dealers will greet them with a mind-boggling choice of "personalisation" options that will drive the bill for some Evoques far beyond £40,000. The good news is that the "Pure" version, which most closely resembles the original LRX concept, starts at £27,995. At that price, I don't think there's anything else that can touch it for style.