Never change a winning team they say, nobody mentioned updating a winning team wasn’t allowed…
JLR, that’s short for Jaguar Land Rover, scored big time with the Range Rover Evoque mark I and we got to test the successor. So yes, that’s mark II of this car and the company went for an evolution rather than a new formula. And why should they, as the Evoque was a downright success story. It entered a segment as a newbie and quickly became the proverbial king of the hill. Pun intend. So how good is their second take on this car? I’ll run you through the experience with photos as usual, but I’m also running you through key points of interest. Things like the way it drives, its build quality and so forth.
As diesel is being pushed further into damnation for reasons beyond logic, I didn’t choose the diesel but the petrol version, the new Range Rover Evoque P200 AWD to be precise. Powered by a 200hp and 320nm, 2-liter 4 cylinder, the car didn’t feel slow in any way (0-100 in 8.5 seconds). What did irritate me is that it lacked the smoothness coming from low-end torque a diesel engine can offer. Something I enjoy, especially when a car weighs 1845 kilograms and forces a petrol engine to rev fiercely to kill inertia. Consumption was on the high side because of this, averaging around 8 liters per 100 kilometers covered. But when this thing is on the move, the petrol engine stands its ground. Even above 100kph, the car easily overtakes.
Welcome to the 21st century! The interior of the new Range Rover Evoque is simply a gem. Where the I-Pace (review here) felt somewhat unergonomic, this car felt more usable. The placement and usability of the infotainment is where you want it to be. You even have the option of displaying the navigation in your dashboard. Move your eyes down and you’ll find that most of the car’s functions, like drive modes and AC, are now controlled via a screen as well. I was hesitant using it at first but after some hours in the car, I got used to the placement and the way it operates the car. Even during night and during bright sunlight, the screen was usable. Upgrades like this really show that Land Rover took great care in where they updated the Range Rover Evoque. Too radical changes could have caused it to veer too far from what made the car such a success.
As the crossover is related to Range Rovers that are very off-road capable, there are some tricks up the Evoque’s sleeve that bring you beyond where most cars will take you. Select the various off-road settings through the interface I mentioned earlier, and you’ll find the car changes its AWD dynamical properties. It heightens itself and adapts the power delivery to the type of surface you command it to conquer. Or you can simply tell the car to do this by itself, in which the car selects the best traction, based on sensory input. Cool fact: the car can run through 600mm of water without any problem.
There are also settings for people that don’t take the car off-road, of course. Eco, Comfort, and Sport are present, like in any model these days. Comfort somehow didn’t do it for me, where everything was simply too unpronounced. On highway drives, I stuck to Eco for fuel-saving purposes and on B-roads, I slipped it into Sport. Killing off any fuel I managed to save on the highway in the process. Sport is a damn fun setting in this crossover, until you hit understeer. That understeer doesn’t happen unless you really push it through corners though.
In terms of size, the crossover is on the manageable size for city use. It’s 4.3 meters long and around 2 meters in width. Yes, that’s wide but the park assistance makes it very manageable. Parking garages were no issue, even those of city shopping malls.
Finish and looks
Long or short drives never got uncomfortable in the new Range Rover Evoque. The seats are where you want them to be in terms of comfort and support. What did annoy me was getting into the car, as the roofline is so steep that you always have to duck down a bit. People who joined me in the car had a similar experience because I didn’t warn them about it. I’m that kind of journalist. Once inside and the headache resided, the quality of the interior was something that never went unnoticed. The blue leather was a bit intense though, but that’s subjective.
Step back out of the car and you’ll see that the car draws you in for all its details. The amount of small finishes the car has is remarkable. The retracting door handles make the car look clean, the bronze details ‘pop’ on the silver paint, and the powerful, full LED light units are trinkets to look at.
The package the new Range Rover Evoque offers is what the buyers demand: a complete package with stylish looks. You’ll get relatively good performance in a relatively spacious car that is easy to use (read: park). Time will tell if sales will be big again, but Land Rover has put in every effort to make it another success.