Range Rover’s Evoque ticks all the boxes in orderly fashion
First drive: New SUV will blend into south Dublin with new gizmos and looks
Folklore would have us believe that Victoria Beckham not only designed the original Evoque on the back of a football programme while sitting in the stand at 2006 World Cup, but went on to weld the prototype together before its rollout in 2011.
Perhaps she’s spending too much time at the side of the catwalks – and keeping an eye on husband David – to strap on the toolbelt for this second generation of every female southsider’s favourite car.
Whatever Victoria was up to, we decided not to mention her inspirational influence on the Evoque while in the presence of Land Rover chief design officer professor Gerry McGovern.
We also thought it wise not to mention that the latest iteration looks like he’s simply stuck the plans for new Velar in the photocopier and hit shrink.
The cravat wearing design guru told The Irish Times he is very proud of the way the car slots in as a distinct model in to his Range Rover design language.
The professor of car design said while he wasn’t having a pop specifically at Lexus – as a Lexus image appeared on a screen beside him – he does believe their designs are very busy and his aren’t.
In fairness to the man with family from Leitrim he has a point.
The beauty about the new Evoque is that its lines and panels are more fluid and subtle. McGovern specifically didn’t want to lose the sloping roof and rising waistline that has come to define this car, so it’s still got strong traits from the original car.
On first sighting the second generation Range Rover Evoque appears to have grown in all proportions. Yet the five seat premium SUV is barely a millimetre longer than the 2010 original.
Its road presence a mere design illusion but what has grown is its interior.
The Evoque is built on brand new underpinnings and only carries over the door hinges from the original posh SUV.
What it all means is that, magically, rear passengers no longer feel like they’re stuck in a cramped prison with no view. Four adults will fit comfortably, with seating for up to five at a push.
Like the Velar, the Evoque makes a great first impression with its pop out door handles. McGovern says these were a particularly tricky engineering challenge as they have to work in all climates, such as when the car is a veritable frozen block of ice in northern Russia in winter.
Another addition is a digital rearview mirror that displays a rearward facing camera’s view.
This allowed the design team keep the ridiculously small tailgate window that original Evoque drivers complained they could barely see out. The display can also switch back to being a regular mirror if needed.
There’s also a new ground view that shows the road underneath the car to the driver. A camera records the ground directly in front of the bumper and plays it back almost instantly on the cockpit display.
It’s as if you are floating and was most striking as we traversed the disused Corinth iron single-track railway bridge in Greece.
Depending on the grade buyers a host of driving safety aids and other gizmos are also available.
The Evoque can now auto park, and praise be, Apple Carplay and Android auto are available. New 4G wifi can deliver software updates to the car over the air while an activity key with smart settings features and a HUD are available too.
Revised ingenium diesel and petrol engines make up the range. A front wheel drive diesel with manual gearbox will be the entry point when it arrives later in the year. All other engines are 48 volt mild hybrids with all wheel drive paired to a nine speed automatic gearbox.
The all-wheel drive system can cleverly send 100 per cent of the engine power to the front wheels under light use. On the open road or loose surfaces the Evoque can feel and act like a rear wheel drive also, which is a lot of fun.
The auto’s kick down is a little sluggish but there is an sport mode and paddle shifters available. A plug-in hybrid with a three cylinder petrol engine is on the way for next year.
We drove the petrol 250hp R dynamic grade and a 240bhp D240 diesel in S grade.
The petrol was quieter, while the diesel, despite having an acoustic resonator, sounded a little rough under high revs.
We also took the Evoque over some serious terrain and it lived up to its Land Rover pedigree.
There are loads of off road driving aids that make it effortless to go almost anywhere.
We drove through streams, up mountains and on loose surfaces without once mentioning a preference for a Land Rover Defender.
We even took to a route that acts as a stage for the famous Acropolis rally and thoroughly enjoyed the D240’s pulling power.
The Evoque drives like a sports saloon. With optional active suspension it corners with little body roll and its steering is direct, and, we were on the standard fit all season tyres. Our D240 S had active dampers that delivered a premium ride quality that was never harsh no matter the setting.
The standard suspension on our petrol test car felt spot on too. The car coped off the road and delivered the same cabin refinement on tarmac.
The Evoque sought to match the refinement and comfort levels of a class of vehicle above its size and that aim has been achieved.
The Evoque appears to sit in its own space. After a couple of days of on and off road testing, bathed in the romantic light of a Grecian sunset of course, the Evoque impressed.
The key question will be whether with more roomy interior and more gadgets to play with, it can expand its buying market into the wider Range Rover set, both male and female.
Lowdown: Range Rover Evoque S D240 auto
Price: €49,285 (starts from €42,845 FWD)
0-100km/h: 7.7 seconds
Top Speed: 225km/h (140mph)
Claimed fuel economy: 6.2l/100km (45.6mpg) NEDC
CO2 emissions: 163g/km
Motor tax: €570 (band D)