Land Rover has pulled off a masterstroke with the second-generation Range Rover Evoque, writes Gareth Herincx
With global sales of more than 750,000 since the original’s showstopping launch in 2011, plus numerous awards, the Range Rover Evoque has been a huge success.
When it came to replacing Land Rover’s biggest selling model in the UK, the decision was wisely taken to make the Mk 2 an evolution – a car that’s still recognisably an Evoque, but oh-so different in many ways.
With smoother lines, slimmer headlights and grille, plus retractable door handles, there are clear design cues from its big brother, the Velar.
The end result is an SUV that retains its predecessor’s unique style and kerb appeal, yet manages to look even cooler. And even though it’s much the same size as the car it replaces, the new Evoque – now only available as a five-door – has a greater road presence.
Step inside and the changes are more obvious. There’s a minimalist feel, achieved largely thanks to a twin touchscreen, not dissimilar to the Velar’s, in the centre console. A 12.3-inch digital driver’s display and optional head-up info system round off the impressive interior tech. Overall, the cabin oozes quality and build quality is faultless.
It’s comfortable up front and the driving position is as commanding as ever. There’s more space for passengers behind and a decent 591 litres of boot capacity (10 per cent larger), expanding to 1,383 litres when the flexible 40:20:40 second-row seats are folded.
Currently, there’s a choice of 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel and petrol engines, available with various power outputs.
Priced from £31,295 for the entry-level ‘Evoque’, through to the S, SE and HSE, the trim levels then move up to the R-Dynamic, R-Dynamic S, R-Dynamic SE and R-Dynamic HSE, which starts at £46,265. I tested the top-of-the-range model which tipped the scales at £51,050 after extras were added including a black contrast roof, privacy glass and a fixed panoramic sunroof.
Powered by a 296bhp (badged P300) petrol turbo engine mated to a slick nine-speed ZF automatic gearbox, it’s capable of a 0-60mph time of 6.3 seconds and a 150mph top speed.
Naturally, it’s four-wheel drive, while fuel economy is up to 30.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 185g/km.
All Evoque models, apart from the entry-level diesel (D150), are fitted with a new, 48V mild-hybrid (MHEV) system.
A first for Land Rover, MHEV works by harvesting energy normally lost under deceleration and storing it in a lithium-ion battery. When pulling away, the stored energy is redeployed seamlessly to assist engine acceleration and reduce fuel consumption.
An even more efficient plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model with a new three-cylinder petrol engine will also join the range next year.
The 296bhp 2.0-litre petrol unit has plenty of pulling power and is both responsive and refined, while the ride is impressively smooth.
It feels composed and surprisingly agile for a relatively heavy car. Naturally, it leans a little in corners, but switch to Dynamic mode and it will put a smile on the face of more spirited drivers. The steering is precise and there’s no shortage grip and traction.
It goes without saying that the Evoque has also inherited Land Rover’s legendary off-road ability.
Boasting a ground clearance of 212mm and a wading depth of 600mm, it’s more than capable of handling hardcore off-roading and extreme weather conditions, even though most Evoques are unlikely to tackle anything more challenging than a muddy field.
With a best-in-class 30.6-degree departure angle, it can cope with the most remarkable terrain. For serious off-roaders, the Evoque’s Ground View technology helps by effectively making the bonnet invisible by projecting camera imagery onto the upper touchscreen to show the driver a 180-degree view under the front of the vehicle.
Awarded a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash safety tests, the Evoque is equipped with all the latest driver assistance kit you’d expect in this sector, including autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-keep assist, traffic-sign recognition, blind-spot assist and adaptive cruise control.
So the new Range Rover Evoque is a bit of a revelation – a real step-up from an already fine car. Stylish, classy, refined and offering a surprisingly dynamic driving experience, it has improved in every department.
If you want to own a car as capable and versatile as a Range Rover, on and off-road, but you need something a little more compact and manageable, the Evoque could be the 4×4 for you.