Engines: P250: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged; P300: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo/48V mild hybrid
Transmission/drive: AWD/9-speed automatic
Fuel consumption (L/100 km): TBA
Alternatives: Audi Q3, BMW X2, Cadillac XT4, Infiniti QX30, Jaguar E-Pace, Lexus UX, Lincoln MKC, Mercedes GLA, Volvo XC40
Lurking below London’s spidery network of elevated train tracks, the city’s ubiquitous railway arches have been repurposed myriad ways over the past 180 years – warehouses, auto shops, microbreweries, restaurants, gymnasiums, you name it. But this – this might have been a first.
Somehow Land Rover’s ever-imaginative PR pros cobbled together a challenging “off-road” course threading through the brickwork railway arches below the train tracks, just upstream of Liverpool Street station – and barely a mile from the Bank of England building in the heart of The City.
We get the message. The course of ramps and rail tracks and a swimming pool – yes, really, a half-filled swimming pool (don’t ask) – convincingly demonstrated the go-anywhere chops of Land Rover’s reinvented Evoque crossover; and simultaneously, the location acknowledged that the only wilderness most Evoques will ever encounter is the urban jungle.
Despite the familiar appearance, the 2020 is as new as new gets. It debuts Jaguar Land Rover’s new Premium Transverse Architecture and the body is 99.9 per cent new (if you must know, the door hinges account for the remaining 0.1 per cent). It’s powered by two new versions of JLR’s Ingenium engine family matched to a new nine-speed automatic transmission. The two all-wheel drive systems and the chassis are also new.
As for the seen-it-before styling, don’t think the design staff got lazy. Land Rover knew it was onto a good thing with the original Evoque’s “dramatically falling roof and rising belt-line,” as chief design officer Gerry McGovern describes it. The original Evoque “has such a distinctive DNA and we had to be mindful of that.”
Land Rover resisted the trend to size creep, keeping the Evoque’s exterior dimensions almost identical to the current one; at 4.37 metres in length, it fits right in with the 4.3-to-4.5-metre range of a peer group that includes the Audi Q3, BMW X2, Jaguar E-Pace, Mercedes GLA and Volvo XC40.
It may be no bigger on the outside, but a claimed “packaging master-class” inserted 20 millimetres more rear knee-room and 10 per cent more cargo volume into the inside. My brief stint at the wheel revealed, however, a driving position less commanding than claimed – at least for those of us who need good thigh support. And the rear seat-backs don’t fold as flat as I’d like.
The interior design emphasizes trim materials that are not only high-end and “irresistible to touch,” says Amy Frascella, chief designer for colour and materials, but also environmentally sustainable. One such material is derived from eucalyptus wood, sourced from certified forests. Another, called Kvadrat, uses high-lanolin “greasy wool” and is paired with a fabric made from recycled plastic bottles.
Naturally the redesign brings the Evoque up to par in terms of connectivity (Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 4G Wi-Fi, etc.) and infotainment (two large touch-screens and available digital gauge cluster), as well as driver-assistance technologies (including adaptive cruise with stop and go and autonomous lane following).
Beyond that, the Evoque introduces ClearSight Rear View Mirror and Ground View: the former lets the driver display the image from an exterior rear-facing camera onto the rear-view mirror (though a conventional optical reflection remains available); the latter displays a wide-angle view of the terrain immediately ahead of and below the nose of the Evoque.
Although Ground View was conceived as an adjunct to the Evoque’s claimed best-in-class off-road talents, it also can help you avoid graunching on high curbs in the urban jungle (although, with its 8.3-inch ground clearance and 25-degree approach angle, that’s less of an issue for Evoque than most urban SUVs). Available wheel sizes go up to a whopping 21 inches.
For Canada the turbocharged two-litre gasoline engine – we won’t get the diesels offered in most other markets – claims 246 horsepower in the base P250, or 296 hp on the uplevel P300. The latter is configured as a mild hybrid: under deceleration an 11-kilowatt starter-motor-generator harvests energy to be stored in a 48-volt battery; under acceleration the battery feeds electricity back to the motor to assist the gas engine and save fuel. A 6-per-cent reduction is claimed.
Also in the pipeline – though not yet confirmed for Canada – is a plug-in hybrid with an 11.3-kWh battery, a 30-kW starter-motor-generator up front supplementing a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder gas engine, and a 108-hp electric motor driving the rear wheels.
On the chassis side, available Active Dynamics adds continuously-variable damping, while the optional Active Driveline AWD adds torque vectoring on the rear axle to enhance handling response and traction. Standard Driveline Disconnect saves fuel by automatically disconnecting drive to the rear when it’s not needed; and the standard Terrain Response system now has an Auto mode in addition to its selectable General, Eco, Sand, Grass-Gravel-Snow and Mud and Ruts settings.
None of those settings seemed tailor-made for entering and exiting a half-filled swimming pool via steep metal ramps, but the Auto setting got the job done
Canadian pricing will be announced in mid-January, and sales start here next Spring.
The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.
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