Stylish, rugged and packed with luxury

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The revolutionary Range Rover Evoque is one of the most successful vehicles Land Rover have ever made - and it’s very easy to see why, writes Chris Burton.

A combination of off-road ability, on-road driving comfort, incredibly high standards of build quality, exhilarating performance and über-fashionable good looks - it’s easy to get carried away by the Evoque.

But when you sit in the cockpit of the car, you really do not want to leave.

Leather covers not only the seats and steering wheel, but virtually every surface of the dash and console.

The reasonably low-slung driving position feels more akin to a high-end saloon or sports car than the commanding high-level driving position of most Land Rovers, including that of the second smallest in the range - the Freelander 2.

But in the Evoque this feels entirely right. This car is, after all more likely to be spotted cruising the streets of Knightsbridge than battering up and down rutted farm tracks, but it’s good to know it could if you wanted to.

In fact this latest incarnation of the Evoque has, as an option, something called Active Driveline, which Land Rover describe as the world’s first ‘on demand’ four-wheel drive system. This is said to greatly enhance fuel economy by operating in front-wheel drive during ‘steady-state’ driving conditions above 22mph.

Safety and driver assistance features in the 2014 model of the car is boosted by the addition of ‘park exit’ (which takes the car automatically out of parallel bays), ‘perpendicular park’, which guides the car centrally into standard parking bays, among other bits of tech. These are actually great fun to try and make parking something of an event!

The new nine-speed auto gear box is probably the best I have ever tried. The changes occur so quickly and so smoothly that I challenge you to notice when they happen. And the Evoque returns (for a sporty 4x4) a decent fuel economy at a combined 48.7 mpg. It’s certainly no worse on diesel than a lot of family saloons.

In Mauritius blue, with the 20-inch alloy wheels and contrasting black panoramic roof, this car certainly turned heads on the high street. But when dressed in a slightly subtler shade of paint, such as silver or grey, these cars exude a classy, understated vibe now that we’re becoming more used to see their cutting edge exterior design.

But to sum up Land Rover’s achievement with the Evoque, you’d have to say they have created a cracking compact 4x4 that is just about the most desirable little SUV on the planet at the moment.

In doing so, they have made it visually stunning, they’ve screwed it together with great quality, have innovated with the technology and have made the interior of the car a truly marvellous place to be.

I have to have one!