2.4.2019Range Rover Evoque first drive
The Range Rover Evoque has proved to be one of the marque’s most successful models, performing well in an increasingly crowded market. Although the first-generation model was still selling well, Land Rover has made the wise decision to not rest on its laurels, and launched this new version. Set to be available with a wide range of powertrains in the future, here NGC tests the Evoque D180 S that makes up part of the launch model line-up.
Review by Chris Lilly
Under the bonnet of the Evoque is Jaguar Land Rover’s 2.0 litre Ingenium diesel unit, with the four-cylinder engine tuned to 180hp in this iteration. This, combined with 430 Nm of torque, allows for a 0-60mph time of 8.8 seconds, and a top speed of 127mph. Power goes through a nine-speed automatic gearbox to all-four wheels, with the compact Range Rover more than capable of tackling the rough stuff. Having put it through its paces around a challenging off-road course, I can certainly attest to that strength, but obviously very few owners will be looking to get their Evoque into the wild. Instead, the Range Rover is likely to be found in more civilised environments, and the performance on all types of road is good. It’s not the fastest compact premium SUV around, but with plenty of grunt from that diesel unit, pick-up is regularly rapid in short bursts, and the automatic transmission is quick enough to change down a cog or two when the throttle is booted. At motorway speeds, the engine settles down nicely, thanks predominantly to the top ratios effectively being overdrive gears. On twisty roads, the gearbox runs through the ratios a fair bit, but considering there are nine forward gears, that’s to be expected really. It’s quick enough to change down, and the car deals with an open road as well as it deals with urban routes. In built up areas, the Evoque does very well for what is still a relatively large car, and the engine will allow the driver to dart around town nicely. I’d say that it’s most comfortable on a country road though, with pace available, but without being rushed.
As mentioned above, the Range Rover is more than capable off-road, but it’s natural habitat is not the jungles of Borneo, or tracking across the Kalahari - even though it would perform extremely well. Instead, it is the harsh environments of towns and cities around the world where the Evoque has work well; and well it does. The suspension is very nicely set-up to provide a comfortable ride, but retains enough about it to offer the option of a dynamic drive should the mood take. It’s a well balanced set of springs, which perform well just about everywhere. In town, the body control is such that it can be driven around tight corners and piloted about a multi-storey car park with ease. Out on the open road, the Evoque’s steering weightens up, and the Range Rover can be threaded through a series of bends with confidence and a smile on the face. It’s not the most dynamic model around, but it certainly behaves far better than a car the height of an Evoque has any right to. It’s a little too short to be a true motorway cruiser, but again, the Range Rover Evoque performs admirably here, proving an accomplished all-round package.
The first generation Evoque was a well designed piece of kit, and this new version is even better in my view. It blends a number of Land Rover’s Range Rover design themes, and smooths off the previous Evoque’s lines nicely. It’s still certainly both a Range Rover and an Evoque though, with an evolutionary approach to design, rather than the revolutionary like the change between Discoverys 4 and 5. Crucially, it retains its fashionable edge, and the new Evoque returns to being one of the most stylish cars in the compact premium SUV sector. Also importantly, the interior practicality has been improved, with the boot space in particular benefiting from a fresh design. It’s still not exactly capacious, but it’s an improvement on the old model. Rear seat passengers benefit too, and the Evoque - although not significantly larger - is an improved pick in terms of practicality. It still suffers for its style when looking out the back, with visibility inhibited by a slim rear window and large C-pillars. Fortunately, Land Rover has an solution to this issue - more on that shortly.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
If Land Rover has tidied up the exterior styling, placing it more upmarket still in terms of design, than the same can be said of the interior. The Evoque's cabin has been brought into line with the likes of the Velar's, and looks great. A pair of widescreen touchscreens have been brought in to clean up the dash and centre console, and the system uses a clever pair of dials that control different elements depending on if you pull, or push them in first. It's a stylish set-up that works well once you've got used to it. To access some less common systems, you might need to dig through a few screens first, but there is also a customisable home screen where you can place your frequent picks. Combine this with a digital instrument panel and the front fascia looks very clean indeed, and also very 'baby' Range Rover - no bad thing at all. A new gear selector stick replaces the rotary dial selector previously found in the Evoque, which I think is a shame in terms of design, but this way drivers can manually change gears with the paddles behind the wheel, or now with the stick too. To combat the aforementioned lack of rear visibility, Land Rover has launched its ClearSight technology, which switches the rear-view mirror into a screen, with images displayed from a rear-mounted camera on the roof. It gives a wider view than drivers would get from a conventional mirror, wven with excellent rearward visibility, and also means that passengers or loads above the window line are skipped too. It takes a little getting used to, with the human eye having an unerring ability to distinguish between rea' and digital inputs, and I found the display a little distracting when travelling at normal speeds. It's something I'm sure you would get used to, and you can switch it on and off, so it's not a permanent feature. The best bet in my short time in the Evoque was to turn it on when parking for example, or in a tight space, when you are using your mirrors more anyway, and then revert to a mirror for the rest of the time.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
The official fuel economy figure for the Evoque is 41.3 MPG on WLTP tests, and having driven the Evoque through parts of north Wales and neighbouring England, we found that a figure in the mid-high 30s MPG is comfortably achievable. That's after a mixture of roads, ranging from motorways and busy city routes to winding country roads with some big changes in elevation. It's not a bad performance for a model that isn't focused on efficiency, and the model tested was all-wheel drive, with front-wheel drive models available for those chasing added efficiency. To tax, the Range Rover Evoque will cost £530 for the first year - included in the OTR - and then £145 a year thereafter. However, this is only because the list price is less than £40,000, and it is easy to find Evoque models - or to add a few options - to take the price over the Premium Rate threshold, where years 2-6 will cost £465 every 12 months.
The Evoque has been fitted with the latest generation of Ingenium engines from the Jaguar Land Rover pool, with a combination of three- and four-cylinder units on offer by the time the line-up is complete. Further down the line, mild-hybrid, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid models will be launched, improving efficiency further. A PHEV Evoque is likely to prove very popular considering the uptake of plug-in models from the larger Range Rover and Range Rover Sport buyers. All of this is possible thanks to a new architecture, developed for electrification from the off. The all-wheel drive system will disengage the rear axle when not needed to boost economy. Auto stop/start is fitted too, as is drive mode select. Land Rover also offers an interior made from eucalyptus, wool, and recycled plastics for a greener cabin. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 52.
As you might expect from a premium SUV, equipment levels from Land Rover are good. Fitted as standard are 17-inch alloys, two-zone climate control, automatic headlights and wipers, flush door handles, cruise control, lane keep assist, parking sensors front & rear and rear camera, and 10-inch Touch Pro infotainment system with remote app, Bluetooth, DAB, and USB connectivity. Land Rover's all-terrain systems are fitted too, with Terrain Response, All Terrain Progress Control, Low Traction Launch, Hill Descent Control, and Hill Launch Assist. These may rarely be used, but having put the Evoque through its paces on a challenging off-road course, the baby Range Rover is certainly not lacking in 'go-anywhere' capability. Tested S trim adds 18-inch alloys, auto-dimming rear view mirror and door mirrors, 10-way heated electric front seats, leather trim, Navigation Pro, Connect Pro pack - including wifi hot-spot - and Smartphone Pack for InControl, Android Auto, and Apple Car Play connectivity. Options fitted to the model included Touch Pro Duo, for the twin screen infotainment system, 10-inch alloys, and the ClearSight rear view mirror - adding almost £2,000 to S trim all told.
The Evoque came along initially with a reputation as a fashionista, but the market has developed considerably now, with many rivals also offering compact SUVs more likely to deal with speed bumps than off-road courses. Land Rover's abilities to actually tackle the rough stuff even in this most road-focused model adds an air of ruggedness that isn't presented by the design then. It's very stylish, offers a lovely cabin, drives better than ever on- and off-road, and is more efficient than before - with greener options still to come. Updating a best-seller can be fraught with challenges and potential pit falls. Land Rover nailed it.
Model tested: Range Rover Evoque D180 S
Body-style: Compact premium SUV
Engine / CO2: 2.0 litre diesel engine / 150 g/km
Trim grades: S, SE, HSE, R-Dynamic
P400e on-road price: Range from £31,615. Price as tested £39,000
Warranty: Three year / unlimited mileage
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 Stars