The new Range Rover Evoque is not just a revamp or refresh, it is almost a completely new car. So, how does it perform in this very competitive premium compact SUV market?
Jaguar Land Rover has worked hard to establish itself as a maker of premium vehicles. As far as the luxury off-road four-wheel-drive market goes, the Range Rover brand is right at the top the list. This reputation has to be nurtured so that any new developments have to keep to established high standards.
When the Evoque was revealed as a concept vehicle in 2008, it received such interest that it was given the go-ahead for production and went on sale in 2011.
This stylish compact SUV was launched to huge fanfare and celebrity endorsements followed; notably Victoria Beckham.
This, I am sure, has contributed to a general impression that the Evoque has been more popular with female owners. Certainly, its styling was more important that functionality. The rear seating was a bit tight and the hatched boot space was not generous.
So now, after eight years, we have the second generation Evoque. It enters a marketplace that has caught up very quickly and there are excellent rivals out there such as the Audi Q3, the BMW X1 and Volvo’s brilliant XC40. Can the new Evoque regain ground and still retain its individual style?
My test car was a petrol powered P200 SE R-Dynamic model with all-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic gearbox. At £44,100 before options, it is right in the middle of the range and represents the best compromise of equipment and value.
Although the looks have been retained, particularly at the front, the car is totally new, the floor pan is designed to take electric–hybrid and even full electric powertrains in the future. There are six engine options. Three are from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol unit producing 200, 250 or 300hp depending on the state of tune. Another three are courtesy of a 2.0-litre diesel unit with 150, 180 or 240hp output.
Trim options range from the base model through S, SE and HSE. All are available with the R-Dynamic upgrade, which gains some cabin extras and some neat external styling features in satin and copper finish. These improve the appearance of what is a car of special style.
Standard on all models is a smart 48 volt mild-hybrid system. This stores energy from braking and can redeploy it briefly on hard acceleration. Also standard is a 10-inch infotainment screen, rear parking camera and digital driver’s display on SE models and above. A clever option is the ClearSight interior rear view mirror which can give a wide rear camera’s view of following traffic.
Externally, the new car’s proportions are, to my eyes, much better balanced and I love the new retracting door handles as already featured on the Velar. Inside, the new Evoque feels right up to date. The clear digital dials and central infotainment screen work as well as in any competitor and ApplePlay / Android Auto is now standard. The interior is crisp and cleanly designed and the dashboard materials feel of high quality.
Thanks to a longer wheelbase, rear passengers have a much roomier cabin and the boot is also significantly bigger. All passengers are treated well on the move, too. The Evoque is a quiet and refined cruiser. The ride, although a bit firm at low speeds, does a good job of controlling body roll and allies with the reasonably direst steering to provide some zest for the keen driver behind the wheel.
Although the 200hp petrol engine of my test car was quiet and smooth, I would have preferred more power. The engine doesn’t struggle but it is obviously working hard to travel at a decent pace. If you prefer the benefits of better fuel economy, but don’t want to specify one of the excellent and torquier diesel engines, then you might want to wait for the plug-in hybrid version. The nine-speed automatic gearbox also seems to become spoiled for choice with so many ratios to choose from and can be a bit slow to respond.
Over the course of a few hundred miles, the Evoque grew on me. It was going to take a lot to challenge the impressive Volvo XC40 as the compact premium SUV to beat, but I think that the new Evoque might have done it.
Add a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and Land Rover’s legendary off-road capability, and it’s sure to carry on the success of its predecessor.
The only concern I have is for Jaguar Land Rover itself because there seems to be a lot of competition in-house. The Range Rover Velar is a similar, but slightly bigger product, while the Jaguar E-Pace and Land Rover Discovery Sport aren’t a million miles away either. There are only so many buyers out there for this type of car.
Range Rover Evoque P200 SE R-Dynamic
Body: Five-seat SUV
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
Torque: 320 Nm
Top Speed: 134 mph
Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 8.0 secs
WLTP combined mpg: 30.7 – 28.6 mpg
CO2 emissions: 176g/km
On the road price: £44,100