It’s one of the most high profile debuts of 2011, but has Land Rover got it right with the Evoque?

We pulled down a tree last weekend. It took five of us… and a Land Rover. The oak was dead, but still had enough spring left to yank the two-ton Defender four feet backwards while it was crawling forward in low gear with the diffs locked.

I’ve got a feeling that owners of the new Range Rover Evoque won’t be pulling down oaks, but I bet that they’d like to think they could. This new mini-sport utility vehicle, the smallest ever Range Rover, is targeted at BMW’s X1 and Audi’s Q3. Land Rover says that 90 per cent of Evoque buyers will be new to the brand and younger, more urban and a lot more female than its traditional customers.

Those owners will love the Evoque as much for its origins 67 years ago, when Maurice Wilks sketched the first Land Rover in the sand at Red Wharf Bay in Anglesey, as for its striking looks derived from the LRX 2008 Detroit show concept. The Evoque’s authenticity matters even if it is aimed at a latte generation of urbanites; they like to believe they’re craggy horse whisperers at heart.

Some at Land Rover don’t appear to agree, however. “We don’t talk about off-road capability any more,” said John Edwards, Land Rover’s brand director, earlier this year dismissing the old company motto of “The best 4×4 by far”.

“Whaaaat?” spluttered one rival German marketing director. “We’d kill for that kind of brand image, and they’re throwing it away?”