As for the quality of the materials and the luxurious atmosphere, I expected both Audi and Volvo to put Land Rover to the test, but neither actually does. The Q3s cabin looks and feels bolder, more sculptural and more openly stylish than those of its peers, but the effect is a bit artificial. And the cars underlying standard of perceived quality is no better than that of the Evoque.
The cab of the XC40, meanwhile, still looks fresh, young and attractive a year after its launch, like the rest of the car. But it doesnt have the environmental richness of the Evoques interior or the sense of modern reducing style. Neither the Volvo nor the Audi can match the Land Rover for its practicality as a comfortable and comfortable four-seater for adults, although the Audi surpasses the Land Rover in terms of space for the trunk, must be taken into account.
What about driving experiences, then? Well, we could, at this point, spend paragraphs telling you which of these cars you drive best – but there are more important factors to deal with first. Factors like comfort, refinement, cab insulation, ease of driving, body control and ease of use, all of which are at the heart of an SUVs dynamic mission statement, and for all of which – contrary to probabilities in some cases, I have to say – the Evoque leads the field.
I have never driven a JLR product with an Ingenium four-cylinder diesel engine that impressed me so much in a luxury car. Its obviously taken a few years, but the signs are that Gaydon engineers are beginning to understand the business of putting manners into this 2.0 litre package, which is commendably quiet and smooth in the Evoque. It makes both the Q3 and XC40 sound noisy and a little rough, although I might add that none of them would bother you too much by the general lack of mechanical refinement when judged in isolation.
Bald performance figures suggest that both the Audi and Volvo have better road turns than the Range Rover, and have a slight advantage, but not revealing. Its true that the weight of the Evoque counts a bit when you want every bit of speed your diesel engine can offer. But in partial acceleration and average revs, responding to the kind of demands usually made on cars like this in everyday motoring, you wouldnt say it feels slower than its opponents. The car has a lot of torque, and working with it, its nine-gear gearbox has good instincts to get the right relationship to make useful, assertive and effortless progress. Neither the Audi nor the Volvo feel so skillful, manageable or in tune with the give-and-take engine.