Inspired by the super-smooth Velar model and available to order now, an all-new Range Rover Evoque breathes fresh life into the marque’s entry-level model, states Iain Robertson, for a new era that features advanced tech and hybrid engineering.
Unveiled at an exclusive London Boiler Room bash at the end of November 2018, a specially-invited audience of Range Rover aficionados that included Guy Ritchie, Taron Egerton, Edith Bowman and Mollie King, among a host of B-listers, roared their approval of the Evoque. While it does appear to be an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary new model line, rather amazingly, only the door hinges remain of the original car, which, at its 2011 introduction, redefined the sports-utility sector. Having sold 772,096 examples, of which 80% have been exported, it has been a genuine success story for West Midlands-based Land Rover, which has provided sizeable profits to the otherwise troubled JLR’s coffers.
With certain aspects unavailable at launch, the headline features revolve around the introduction of hybrid technology to the Evoque line-up and an all-new three-cylinder version of the modular Ingenium engine, which is cast and produced entirely in South Wales. Land Rover recognises that it has made a realistic commitment to reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and also to extending its models’ EV ranges and only by tackling these issues with fresh technology can it hope to meet future legislation, let alone its much-publicised intentions.
The company’s design chief, Gerry McGovern, created his original gamechanger, with the sole intention of making it the go-to model for the style-conscious SUV buyer. It was such a seminal new product in the early part of the current decade, it has ensured that, much beyond material sourcing alterations, serious change could be injurious to the brand. As a ‘conquest’ model, it has been singularly responsible for attracting in excess of 60% of completely new customers to Land Rover, a substantial percentage of which has been to the business community. Yet, whether it will continue that stance, now looking like a smaller version of the Velar, remains to be witnessed.
The launch versions are all powered by 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel and petrol engines in various states of tune: 147bhp turbo-diesel in 2WD manual form, 147bhp, 177bhp and 236bhp with automatic, mild hybrid and AWD; while the petrol variants are 197bhp, 245bhp and the high-power 296bhp, all with auto ’box, mild hybrid technology and AWD. The torque figures range from 280 to 369lbs ft (diesel) and 251 to 295lbs ft (petrol). The hybrid technology provides ‘start:stop’ potential, as a means to increase fuel economy but to reduce CO2 emissions. The mild hybrid delivers CO2 emissions from as low as 149g/km (143g/km for the 2WD manual version) and fuel economy from 50.4mpg (based on the new NEDC Equivalent WLTP test procedure).
Five trim levels (Evoque, S, SE, HSE and First Edition, which carries a £5,500 premium over the HSE) and the £1,500 option of R-Dynamic customisation across the line-up, means that the 2.0-litre range starts at £31,600, rising to £50,400 for the top model. When the 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine appears, it will offer a lower entry-point, with all prices stated before any dealer discounts and lease deals are applied.
Towing capacities range from the entry-level 2WD diesel at 1.6-tonnes, the petrols at 1.8-tonnes and the punchier turbo-diesels at 2.0-tonnes, although all versions can tow an unbraked trailer of 750kgs. While the footprint of the new Evoque is almost identical to the outgoing model, it is built on Land Rover’s new mixed-material Premium Transverse Architecture, which creates more interior space than before. A longer wheelbase yields 20mm extra rear kneeroom and an increase in small item stowage, in that door pockets, bins and glovebox are all more accommodating. The luggage space is 10% larger than before (591-litres), with space increasing to 1,383-litres, when the flexible 40:20:40 second-row seats are folded.
The new platform architecture has been developed in readiness for electrification, with a 48-volt mild-hybrid available immediately and a plug-in hybrid model in a year’s time. The mild hybrid technology is a first for Land Rover and works by harvesting energy normally lost during deceleration, thanks to the engine-mounted belt-integrated starter generator, and storing it in the under-floor battery pack. At speeds below 11mph, the engine shuts off, when the driver applies the brakes. When accelerating, the stored energy is redeployed to assist the engine and reduce fuel consumption. The result is refined, quiet and efficient, especially when driven in built-up traffic, which, sadly, is where most Evoques are driven.
Combining all-terrain, all-seasons capability, a Range Rover hallmark, a second-generation Active Driveline has been developed, with Driveline Disconnect to enhance efficiency and Adaptive Dynamics to deliver the optimum balance of comfort and agility. Terrain Response 2, first found on the full-size Range Rover, detects automatically the surface being driven on, sensors providing feedback to the electronic management system of extraneous motion, and adjusts the car’s set-up accordingly. Evoque can now wade through water depth up to 600mm (previously 500mm).
The dashboard has dived into digitalisation, with a segment-first ‘ClearSight rear-view mirror’ that transforms into an HD video screen. If rear visibility is compromised by passengers or bulky items, the driver flicks a switch simply on the underside of the mirror and a camera feed from the top of the car displays crisply what is behind the vehicle. Another first lies in the Ground View technology, which makes 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. It can be useful, when negotiating difficult parking spaces, navigating high kerbs outside junior’s school, or those rare occasions when tackling rough terrain (the flower-beds at Waitrose).
Finely crafted interior design removes clutter to create a luxurious, minimalist, digital cabin that is less fussy than before. Not before time, recycled plastics are offered as premium alternatives to leather, such as a Kvadrat wool blend and Miko Dinamica® suede-cloth, as well as Eucalyptus and Ultrafabrics™ options. Designed as an oasis of calm serenity, the cabin keeps occupants happy, with the twin touchscreen ‘Touch Pro Duo’ system that features speedier software, 16-way seat controls and cabin air ionisation that complements the increased interior space.
Naturally, the usual raft of driver and safety aids are incorporated and Evoque is the first Land Rover to incorporate Smart Settings, which use artificial intelligence algorithms to learn the driver’s preferences and act as an onboard ‘butler’. In addition to seat position, music and climate settings, Evoque can also control steering column preferences to maximise comfort and convenience.
Jaguar Land Rover’s commitment to the UK car industry continues, following a £1bn investment to support its market position, a figure that includes £110m spent at the company’s UK manufacturing plant in Halewood, on Merseyside, to develop its state-of-the-art, flexible manufacturing facility.
Moving onwards and upwards, the Range Rover Evoque, in its latest guise, will provide much-needed profits to the Indian-owned JLR enterprise. One of the more popular models of the entire SUV sector will continue to be in demand for the foreseeable future.