Evo Magazine Review - Muscle Car UK Car Magazine Review - Muscle Car

Evo Magazine Review – Muscle Car UK Car Magazine Review

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Elise

Written by Elise

18th December 2020

Evo Magazine Review – Muscle Car UK Car Magazine Review
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Evo Magazine Review – Muscle Car UK Car Magazine Review

By Jamie Wills

Evo likes Porsche. Of its 23 Car of the Year Awards, Porsche has won 12. Ten of those victories have gone to Porsche 911s. Porsche has also been runner-up four times. Yes, Evo likes a Porsche.

This preference tells the reader where Evo, the high-performance car magazine ‘devoted to the thrill of driving’, is coming from. It is a magazine that celebrates road-going supercars and premium name drops, including Ferrari 458, McLaren 765LT and Lamborghini Huracán. That guy driving an Aston Martin along the North-Coast 500, roaring past farmers, is probably an Evo staff writer.

Of course, not everyone is enamoured with this corner of motoring: after all, is a Porsche driver not an entrepreneur with a mid-life crisis? The quest for Evo is to prove there is substance beneath the glamour, and high performance is not a towel-flicking locker room of car porn. It should show it understands the engine and doesn’t just high-five to the noise it makes. 

Is it successful? Based on its website, the answer is both yes and no.

History

Evo is a young magazine, in motoring terms, having only started in November 1998. Contemporaries of its first issue were Mika Häkkinen and Michael Schumacher, Enemy of the State and Babe: Pig in the City, and ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing’ by Aerosmith and ‘Believe’ by Cher. A lot of people still remember those.

Its birth was one conceived by closures elsewhere. The two founding fathers, Harry Metcalfe and John Barker, had both been writing for Performance Car when it wound up. So too had Richard Meaden, its original editor. David Vivian had been at the recently closed Complete Car. Although Metcalfe was also a property developer-turned-farmer, this was a project comprised of motoring journalists suddenly without ties uniting around a passion for high-octane cars.  

The first cover was a Maserati 3200GT, the team having begged to attend its launch – an unusual invite for a new title. That Farmer Metcalfe had a 3200GT on order may have, in his own words, helped. From there it was onwards and upwards: Lotus, Ferrari, McLaren, Porsche, Audi, hot hatches, Porsche, Jaguar, more McLaren, TVR and a bit more Porsche.

Today, Evo is owned by Dennis Publishing, who bought the title in 2001. The print magazine runs 13 editions a year, also available via an app, and readership hovers around 35000, with 75% in the UK. Meanwhile, Evo’s free website, which this article reviews, produces complementary material at a rate of two to five articles every day. This means that evo.co.uk and Evo the magazine are not entirely the same.

Website Content

Before analysing Evo’s website, it must be said that Evo would probably prefer its online users to be elsewhere, namely on its app. A digital version of the magazine, available for £39.99/year, the app is very simple: one just downloads issues onto a device of choice and gets reading. With this in mind, the reasons for Evo to produce free website content are limited.

It is therefore no great surprise that the first impression of the website is streamlined content. It has five categories—reviews, news, features, magazine, and cars for sale—and since the last two are essentially shopping opportunities, that makes three. Moreover, no sub-categories exist within those boxes. A reader coming to Evo gets that exact basic menu of reviews, news, and features.

Reviews are the heavy hitter here, and some are truly comprehensive. These in-depth pieces begin with an introduction, including basic specs and an overview of pros and cons, followed by an in-article menu linking to multiple pages detailing specific components such as the interior, the design, the engine, the handling, and the 0-60.

Not everything that is scrutinised on Evo is a supercar. The BMW M2 gets seven pages. The Ford Focus RS gets nine. These are excellent overviews of vehicles. Truly very good.

However, not all reviews are written in such depth. Many are solid single pages, such as for the Ferrari 820 GTS. The writing on these is strong, and generally hits around ten paragraphs, but next to those nine-page tomes makes one feel these shorter efforts deserve to be properly coloured-in later.

Over at the news desk, the tone is very much one of press releases rewritten and jazzed up. Unlike the reviews section, which encompasses a few middle-range cars, the news likes to drool over new cars, fast cars and big numbers. Headlines tell the reader the new Toyota Supra has more power, the new Mustang has more torque, the new Pininfarina Battista has more speed, and the new Aston Martin costs £1.75m.   

Finally, the features, which take a somewhat scattershot approach to life. There are histories of particular models, comparisons, used car deals and sat nav reviews, all in no particular order. Objective critiques sit alongside first-person accounts and opinions. Yet, the quality of the writing once in an article is definitely rewarding. While the notion of an ‘Evo car’ is referenced, a little annoyingly, the accounts give a good idea of a car’s function and emotional resonance. 

Layout and Navigation

Navigation, however, is the Evo website’s downfall. Whilst the main five-category header menu is fine, if basic, the pages are less a melting pot than a splat of content. 

Consider the reviews page, in which not all reviews are of equal weight. A small second menu does promise to filter in-depth reviews, group tests, and long-term tests, but this is an odd selection. Certainly siphoning in-depth multi-page reviews is useful, but group tests have become sporadic uploads since 2018. No long-term test has been posted since 2012. 

The same problem afflicts the features page, where again a small menu for filtering presents itself. The titles—advice, awards, best cars, videos—are rather vague. However, worse is to come, for clicking on the awards section brings up a mixture of awards, reviews, news about a Southeby’s auction, opinion by Richard Meaden, and a video of 2013 Car of the Year candidates. At one point, there is a four-year gap between articles.

This muddle is beyond a lack of structure, and instead pleas for somebody with discipline to sort things out.

The actual articles are laid out in a reader-friendly style, albeit carelessly at times. The review for the Toyota GR Supra, for example, has an ‘in detail’ section inserted halfway through the text which includes six links. Three links connect to content written separately in May or December. Three links go to pages that haven’t been created yet. It is an error that makes a reader double-check that this is the correct website for a professional magazine.

Much more positive is the photography. Although a few pictures litter the articles, opening the gallery brings up an array of high-quality images. The use of focus, colours and wild moorland backdrops enhance models such as the McLaren 600LT and Lamborghini Aventador, let alone the Renault Megane. Indeed, the quality is so good and so stylised, it resembles commercials for motoring deities.

Genuine adverts on Evo’s website are not overly intrusive, although plentiful. The right-hand side, header, two panels within the copy, and another at the foot are all given over to retail space on the desktop, while below the article also includes ‘you may like’ suggestions and the chance to visit the magazine’s sales partner. 

Additionally snuck into the text is an advert for subscribing to the magazine. The volume of adverts is thus a ten-gallon hat, but scrolling through is no more difficult than most free sites. Kudos for reader enjoyment!

Reader Interaction

Articles on the Evo website are not open to comments, which means anyone wanting to beat their drum will need to use the magazine’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Youtube channels, or join a forum. 

Evo’s Youtube channel only uploads new content sporadically—there can be six months between videos—so the community hangs out on the social media sites, where posts come multiple times a day. 

Perhaps surprisingly, it is Facebook and Instagram—not Twitter—that get the most interaction. This may be because Evo readers know Twitter’s sins but more likely to do with them being the appropriate demographic and these being better platforms for photography.  

Conclusion

The tone of Evo as a magazine will not be to everybody’s taste: it is brash about its love of expensive names, and many of the cover stars are nothing more than a fantasy for most wallets. This is, after all, a magazine started by a property developer who talks about his house in southern Tuscany. Forums openly debate whether the magazine has gone too far towards the image of a city banker’s playground.

However, such discussions should not detract from the fact that Evo’s writers know their craft well, and their skill with words and pictures flows into the website despite it being a secondary product. The multi-page reviews are a particular highlight – in fact, they are the headline act and reason to visit. To find such depth on an Aston Martin Vantage, Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, Mini Cooper S, and of course a sea of Porsches, is genuinely pleasurable.  

Alas, the technicalities of the site do desperately need to be cleaned up. Sub-categories need to be added, filters should be re-thought, links ought to be checked, and the whole project wants for a schoolmaster to crack the cane and bring some order. 

Of course, the truth is that the world erroneously expects free content to match the quality of paid content. We would do well to remember that Evo as a brand is not really a website but a magazine and corresponding app. Thus, to conclude, those wanting Evo’s thrill of driving should start with the print copy, and use the site as an introduction or supplement.

Author: Jamie Wills


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