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Its trademark design intact, the Range Rover Evoque evolves

By Mark Hacking

Athens, Greece — The Globe and Mail

Published April 5, 2019

Introduced in 2010, the original Range Rover Evoque was “the first Land Rover ever that did sell predominantly on its design, although it had all the capability” as well according to Land Rover chief design officer Gerry McGovern.

By most measures, the original was a success: global sales have approached 800,000, and 217 awards found a home in the Land Rover trophy cabinet. Given that the first Evoque was so well received, it follows that the all-new version would stick close to the formula. Insiders refer to the new Range Rover Evoque as simply “a bold evolution,” even though it shares just a single part with the original – the door hinges.

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1998 Porsche 911 Range Rover Evoque driving through water

The Range Rover Evoque put through its paces in Greece

Supplied

“When we replace a vehicle like the Evoque, which is very successful, it’s very important,” says McGovern, emphasizing that the design objective for Gen 2.0 was refinement and not revolution. “When you look at it, it’s unmistakably an Evoque, but it’s the new one.”

Without a doubt, the resemblance between the new one and its predecessor is plain to see.The coupe-like shape, rising belt line and narrow glass area echo the original. The changes include a more muscular front fascia, squinty LED headlights, flush door handles, and a black strip that runs the width of the back panel, incorporating the LED taillights. These design features, reminiscent of the larger and pricier Range Rover Velar, give the Evoque a more finished look.

The design chief also reports that current owners were adamant that the Evoque not get any bigger, as is often the case when a vehicle transitions from one generation to the next. An all-new mixed-metal platform, some 13 per cent stiffer than the previous design, allowed the wheelbase to increase by 21 mm, leading to more interior space. But the new Evoque, otherwise, has practically the same dimensions as the outgoing version. Internally, there was another goal set for this second-generation model – electrification.

At launch, there will be two versions of the vehicle available in North America. The Evoque P250 features a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 246 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque; the P300 features the same engine, tuned for more performance, and presented in mild hybrid form. The P300 has a 48-volt battery pack under the floor to store energy created during deceleration and redeploy it during acceleration, primarily to help save fuel.

Details shot inside the Range Rover Evoque Details shot inside the Range Rover Evoque
Details shot inside the Range Rover Evoque

Inside the Range Rover Evoque

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“We don’t say that the mild hybrid system adds horsepower or torque because the energy from the batteries is not available every time you accelerate,” explains chief program engineer Pete Simkin. “It’s what we call a torque-fill scenario—it helps create more powertrain efficiency.” The system is estimated to generate a six percent gain in fuel efficiency.

In other markets, a plug-in hybrid version of the Evoque will be available, but there are no immediate plans to bring this model across the Atlantic. (Note: During the launch event, the only version tested was the P250 MHEV, which is also not available over here.)

In driving the new Evoque along the smooth highways and uneven secondary roads of Greece, one aspect came through loud and clear: The cabin is remarkably quiet, particularly for such a modestly sized vehicle. And, even though it’s not the most gripping of small crossovers in terms of driving dynamics, the Evoque displayed incredible stability when driving along the coast, which was being buffeted by high winds at the time.

Range Rover Evoque making a turn

Supplied

The new Evoque comes fitted with the latest Land Rover AWD system, which automatically selects the best traction solution or allows the driver to manually choose from five different modes. A fork in the (off)-road here. The 246-horsepower base engine is not blessed with the sharpest response from low revs; to keep the momentum going, the 9-speed automatic transmission was better left in sport mode.

If the Evoque doesn’t always keep pace with its competitors in more mundane driving situations, it certainly shows them a clean pair of heels when it comes to the adventurous stuff.

We sent the crossover wading through shallow rivers, scampering along rocky goat trails, powering up and down a treacherous mountain road, and inching across a gravity-defying rail bridge spanning the Corinth Canal. Through it all, the littlest Range Rover remained implacable: Traction was always right at hand, or close by, and the many off-road assistance systems made even the hairiest of circumstances seem pedestrian.

Courtesy Range Rover

Of course, all of this “unpaved capability” would be just a distraction if the rest of the vehicle were a mess. But the ride is composed and unexpectedly quiet. The passenger cabin is pleasantly turned out and luxurious in a minimalist kind of way. There’s ample technology and connectivity to satisfy even the nerdiest of nerds. There’s really little reason not to like this thing.

“People don’t actually need luxury Range Rovers,” says McGovern, “but they desire them.” In creating the second-generation Evoque, the design chief and his colleagues have made an already desirable crossover a little more so. The 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque is available for order now.

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Front view of Range Rover Evoque Yulong White

Tech Specs

Base Price: $47,000

Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder

Transmission/Drive: Nine-speed automatic/All-wheel

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): TBD

Alternatives: Audi Q5, BMW X2, BMW X3, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Lexus NX 300, Mercedes-Benz GLC 300, Volvo XC40

Rear view of Range Rover Evoque Yulong White

Ratings

Looks: Fans of the original will be pleased that the design has evolved subtly.

Interior: Optional dual 10-inch touchscreens do away with most buttons and allow fingertip access to the climate control, navigation, infotainment system and all-wheel drive system modes. The new platform has created more space for rear seat passengers, a slightly larger cargo area, and bigger glove compartment and centre console storage. There is a range of interior materials available, including technical fabrics made of recycled plastics and natural materials. The execution is slick.

Performance: The trademark light steering was fine in terms of feel, but more steering angle had to be applied mid-corner more often than not. (Pro tip: This is not a sports-SUV.) Once the pavement ended, though, the Evoque proved eminently capable and far more entertaining.

Technology: In addition to all-wheel drive, standard are hill descent control, an all-terrain cruise control system and driveline disconnect, which switches from AWD to front-wheel drive to save fuel. New features include the ClearSight ground view system which pieces together an image created by cameras positioned under the door mirrors and front grille, and Rear View Mirror, a rear-facing camera that sends high-definition video onto the mirror surface.

The verdict: 8.0/10: The emphasis is on clean lines and simplicity.



The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.





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Credits: Writing by Mark Hacking; Photography courtesy Range Rover, Editing by Tom Maloney, Design and development by Stephanie Chan

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