It’s not every day that Range Rover gets to celebrate its 50th anniversary, and it’s certainly not every day you get to star in the celebrations. But that’s what happened when – as temporary keeper of the Evoque – I was invited to a party with a difference.
‘Arrive in the Ballroom Car Park at Goodwood House 8.30am sharp,’ read the invitation. ‘Face masks to be worn at all times, coffee and pastries will be served.’ So, a masked ball? Celebrity presentation? Glamorous photo-call? It was all the above, in a manner of speaking.
The masks – of course – were to combat Covid-19, the celebrities were two famous Range-Rover-driving rugby players (‘ambassadors’ as they’re known in the trade). And the glamorous photo-call? We’ll come to that in a minute…
First, 50 historic, or notable Range Rovers, including those converted into ambulances, police cars, limousines, even a 6×6 fire engine – were lined up meticulously in the car park, each allocated stick-on numbers from 1 to 50. ‘My’ Evoque was number 46, just ahead of former international rugby league and rugby union player Jason Robinson in an L405 Range Rover, and behind was retired English rugby union player Lewis Moody in a Range Rover Sport SVR.
Next, all 50 Range Rovers were ushered onto Goodwood Motor Circuit itself for a rousing 3.8-kilometre lap of honour – a highlight of Goodwood SpeedWeek. Then came the tricky part. Directed into a vast field away from public gaze, we were split into two groups.
It was indeed a glamorous photo-call with a difference as, under the glare of an aerial drone, film-crew and umpteen photographers, 26 of us were ordered to form a giant, precisely-choreographed, 120-foot ‘5’, after racing to our positions from a standing start.
The others had to drive at speed in formation to form a big, moving zero. Armed with a mind-numbingly complex 17-page sheaf of instructions and walkie-talkies linking us to the chief choreographer, it took three hours of practice and three nerve-wracking takes before he was happy. As the final driver in place, completing the ‘tail’ of the ‘5’ at a tricky angle, I was under pressure not to wreck the show. I think we did alright – you can see the results yourself.
So, what did it teach me about the Evoque? It’s a comfortable car in which to lounge for an entire day, in a cold, draughty field and the sound system (what else was there to do between takes?) is impressive; punchy, but simultaneously mellow and crisp. Switching from ‘Comfort’ to ‘Grass, Gravel and Snow’ was – while not strictly necessary – child’s play and fun. The steering was nimble enough for me to perform that final swooping manoeuvre, the engine more than nippy enough to accelerate at the last second before whizzing into place at precisely the correct moment. Even among such august Range Rovers I like to feel that the small but glamorously styled Evoque, resplendent in Kaikoura Stone and with its black contrast roof and Burnished Copper trim held its own.
I’m going to leave the ‘46’ stickers bearing the ‘50th anniversary’ motif in place so that whoever is fortunate enough to buy this Evoque when it is defleeted, will know of the role it once played in Range Rover’s illustrious history.
Date arrived 16th July 2020
Economy (WLTP combined) 38.2-41.5mpg
Economy (On test) 33.5mpg