When the Range Rover Evoque first hit our roads in 2011, many scoffed. How could a baby Range Rover; no bigger than your standard compact SUV, carry on Land Rover’s sterling on-and-off-road reputation?
Well, it did, and in a big way. The Evoque sold in huge numbers across the world, and barely a day goes by where you don’t see one cruising effortlessly and elegantly through the roads of Britain.
To this day, it’s still one of the most desirable vehicles on the market. Partly because it comes with true Range Rover styling, performance and quality, but another big factor is its affordability.
So, it may have come as a surprise to hear that Land Rover were thinking about replacing the Evoque. And that turned out to be the case recently; with the all-new Range Rover Evoque.
The new Range Rover Evoque
At first glance, it might look as though they’ve done very little. And in terms of styling, they have.
You’ll find a new sleeker design with features stolen from the more expensive Velar; such as pop-out handles, LED headlights and a new front grille.
But inside it’s a less similar story.
You’ll have the choice of full leather, a vegan-friendly material or a wool blend upholstery and a much cleaner, crisper cabin space.
Again, with inspiration taken from the Evoque’s big brother; the Velar, a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system houses all your media and technical settings. And on the SE model and above, you’ll also get a second screen below for in-car preferences, such as climate control.
You can see Land Rover have done a lot of hard work in making the cockpit a clutter-free, luxurious space, and they’ve been extremely successful.
A mixture of high-end plastics and leather, quality finishes and a subtle blend between touchscreen technology and ergonomically and aesthetically pleasing instruments make it, genuinely, a stunning place to be.
Alongside its interior facelift, there’s a new gearstick. Gone are the days of the rotary switch, the Evoque now comes with Land Rover’s favoured trigger – adding that final touch of class to the already painfully-beautiful cockpit.
The TARDIS effect
For those of you who aren’t familiar with BBC TV show, Doctor Who, the TARDIS is a phonebox that’s bigger on the inside than it is on the out.
And although Land Rover haven’t defied physics with the new Evoque, it’s bigger without actually being bigger.
On the road, it’s the same size. But with a few clever changes to the chassis, including increasing the distance between the front and back wheels, the new model is roomier in both the front and back and has 20% more boot space.
As you’d expect from such a vehicle, when it comes to the driving force under the bonnet, you have a few options.
There are three petrol engines; all 2-litre, all with four-wheel-drive and all with a nine-speed automatic gearbox. The only difference is power.
The range covers from just under 200 bhp to almost 300, meaning there’s going to be ample power available for motorway cruising, heading out into the wilderness or popping around town.
And speaking of inner-city driving, the new Evoque comes with a fancy new feature to help you save on fuel costs.
Although the plug-in hybrid is still in the pipeline, all Evoques – aside from the entry-level 2-litre diesel model (there are three diesel powertrains to choose from) – come with a part-electric engine.
It’s not a conventional hybrid in the way you might think; you can’t switch from combustion to electric at your own leisure, but you can drive fully electric. If you take the Range Rover below 11mph, it’ll automatically switch to electric mode.
Aside from the obvious environmental and economic benefits, flipping between the two allows you to escape any low-speed jumpiness – adding to the smooth and comfortable ride of the Evoque.
And that really is this car’s party piece.
If you’re looking to smash lap times or corner hard and fast the Evoque isn’t really the car for you. If head-turning luxurious travel in refined comfort is more your thing, then it absolutely is.
Even without tweaking the suspension – you can add adaptive dampers for extra comfort – the Evoque rides as smooth as anything else on the market, especially in its class and price range.
It’s still a real Range Rover. It can still tackle the hills and boggy tracks with the best of them – with the new model coming with an increased wading depth of 600mm and Land Rover’s much-loved terrain response system. And on the road, it’s streets ahead of everything else.
And that really is the main takeaway from the new Evoque. The original was a trailblazer; an incredible engineering feat; an automotive masterpiece.
And yet somehow, the new one is even better.