It’s arguably the most important vehicle in Range Rover’s line-up. Yes, the eponymous Range Rover is the flag-bearer for the brand, its hulking presence a feature on the type of streets of the monied enclaves home to such vehicles.
But it’s the baby of the family, the Range Rover Evoque, driving sales for the brand, with over 17,000 finding Australian homes since the launch of the first-gen in 2011.
It’s not the ultimate sales leader for the brand, that mantle held by the twin ‘Sports’ in the stable, the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Sport, but it runs a close third and remains an important part of Jaguar Land Rover Australia’s portfolio.
Buyers for the new-generation 2020 Range Rover Evoque (yes, in Range Rover’s world we’re now in 2020) will again have a smorgasbord of choice with six engines (petrol and diesel) of varying outputs, seven trim levels, and a host of options.
The 26-Evoque range (although JLR insists there are just 12, with the brand’s R-Dynamic trim level adding a further 12 and the now obligatory First Edition (on sale for 12 months only) another two.
Semantics notwithstanding, the range kicks off with the entry-level S P200 petrol at $62,670 plus on-road costs and tops out at $94,290 for the R-Dynamic HSE D240 diesel.
In between, a bewildering array of S, SE, and HSE trim levels, in both non- and R-Dynamic specification. If you want the full breakdown, check out our pricing and specs story here.
The local launch afforded us the opportunity to get behind the wheel of just two variants – the base P200 S and the mid-spec R-Dynamic D240 SE.
With a test loop encompassing city traffic, highway running, country back roads and even a tricky off-road course, we certainly got a feel for the Evoque’s capabilities.
But let’s look at what is arguably a major reason people are drawn to the Evoque. Range Rover makes no apology for the style-driven focus of the Evoque. It knows its consumer, and knows too that consumer is aged 30–40, tech savvy, and likely female (the sales skew is 53:47 for those who like to know these things).
At first glance, it’s immediately apparent Range Rover hasn’t deviated too far from the previous car’s successful formula. It still looks like an Evoque, that sloping roof line hinting at coupe-like proportions. And that’s no bad thing, the original Evoque a style leader when it first launched in 2011. And the market agreed, JLR shifting over 700,000 units globally of the first-generation medium SUV.
From the front, it remains unmistakably a Range Rover, the façade mirroring those found on bigger siblings Velar and the eponymous Range Rover.
The profile view continues that clean and uncluttered design, right down to the retractable door handles first seen on the Velar.
That theme continues around the back, the Evoque devoid of visible exhaust tips, not even fake ones that seem prevalent in a lot of today’s vehicles.
The reductive theme continues inside, the overall cabin ambience minimalist while remaining premium. The materials offer a tactility belying its status as a price-leader for the brand, and would be right at home in bigger, more expensive vehicles in the Range Rover stable.
Even the lower door bins, as an example, usually the domain of hard, scratchy plastics, give way to gentle pressure.
There’s a choice of materials for the interior ranging from leather to sustainably and ethically sourced Kvadrat premium textiles as featured in the D240 SE we drove.
Cloth trim in a high-end luxury SUV, I hear you ask? Leave your preconceptions at the door, because both the look and feel of the (optional, $4188) Kvadrat premium textile edged with Dinamica suedecloth is simply sumptuous.
That Dinamica suedecloth, incidentally, is made from 53 recycled plastic bottles; a theme recurring throughout the new Evoque which, JLR claims, utilises around 33kg of recycled materials liberated from a mixture of post-consumer and post-industrial sources. Kudos.
JLR has also addressed a common complaint of the first-gen Evoque, namely the cramped confines of the second row. But with this new generation sitting on a longer wheelbase (by 20mm) and with some creative interior repackaging, that second row is now spacious enough for those consigned to the rear seats.
Headroom, too, is excellent, despite the sloping roof line. It feels bigger inside than its exterior proportions suggest – no bad thing.
Boot capacity, too, is up thanks to a new multi-link suspension set-up at the rear wheels, which has allowed engineers to widen the cargo area by 20cm. Total capacity with the back row being used by humans is now at 591L, up from 575L in the outgoing model.
Of course, the tech-savvy buyers of the Evoque will be wanting the latest in infotainment, and the good news is they won’t be disappointed.
Our test cars were fitted with Range Rover’s twin 10.0-inch touchscreen set-up, the top screen controlling infotainment and navigation, the bottom the car’s vital functions such as drive modes and climate control. It’s a razor-sharp system that's beautifully clean and quick to respond.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring are standard across the range, and an array of rear-view and 360-degree cameras (depending on options) offer crystal-clear vision of the areas surrounding your Evoque. It all adds up to a premium experience that's well executed and well targeted at its likely demographic.
On the road, first up the P200 S, the cheapest Evoque you can get into. Powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine matched to a nine-speed automatic transmission, the P200 S motors along at a brisk if not remarkable pace.
Acceleration from standstill to 100km/h takes a claimed 8.5 seconds thanks to its 147kW of power and 320Nm of torque – adequate enough for most situations.
It’s a remarkably quiet powertrain, with only a hint of engine noise permeating the cabin. The nine-speed auto works effortlessly, with seamless shifts barely felt. That quietude is matched by the P200 S’s on-road manners, which are exemplary.
The ride on the motorway is superb, the engine purring at 1500rpm at 100km/h. The joins and scars of the M2 motorway are barely felt in the cabin, manifesting themselves as a quiet little ‘plunk’, but without translating to suspension travel. It is, in short, poised, quiet, almost serene.
Only a hint of wind noise from the wing mirrors breaks up the ambience.
The steering is accurate, fast and nicely weighted, placing the front wheels exactly where you direct them, and even a stretch of very poorly maintained country road did little to fluster the Evoque. It remains well composed and lithe.
Range Rover claims a combined fuel-consumption figure of 8.1L/100km, and after a lengthy stint encompassing city traffic, highway and country roads, we saw an indicated 10.1L/100km.
Not many Evoque owners are ever likely to venture too far off-road, but in the unlikely event they do, Range Rover’s baby SUV is more than handy. Thanks to its AWD platform, a stretch of dedicated off-roading trail provided little in the way of obstacles.
It’s capable, filled with off-road technology such as Terrain Response driving modes and hill-descent control, while the clever ClearSight Ground View camera, using a combination of cameras mounted inside the grille and underneath the wing mirrors, offers a clear and accurate view of what lies ahead and underneath the car. This includes an overlay of the Evoque’s front wheels on the ground, helping you place them exactly where you need, or want, them to be. It’s at once clever and practical.
Back on the road, and the R-Dynamic D240 SE immediately impresses with its refinement. Powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel with 177kW and 500Nm of torque, mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, the D240 SE hustles from 0–100km/h in 7.7 seconds – fast enough for most.
Thanks to that impressive torque output, available at a very usable 1500–2500rpm in the rev range, acceleration is not only effortless, but also quiet, despite the diesel under the bonnet.
A stretch of motorway running proved particularly impressive, with barely a whisper heard from the engine inside the cabin. Only a bit of wind noise from the wing mirrors served to break up the serenity.
Like its petrol sibling, the ride is well resolved, the Evoque swallowing up bumps and lumps with finesse. In traffic, the D240 SE handles itself with equal aplomb. Quick to move off the line, Sydney’s lumpy roads are dispatched in cosseted comfort.
Larger obstacles such as speed humps invite some noise into the cabin, but the SUV settles quickly back onto the road.
With a long highway run, punctuated by an hour of Sydney peak-hour traffic, the diesel returned a fuel-consumption figure of 8.8L/100km against Range Rover’s claim of 6.3L. Not close, but not outrageous either.
Where Range Rover should be commended is for its servicing plan. Premium brands can often sting you in the workshop, but Range Rover’s five years/100,000km for diesel variants asks for $1500. That’s just $300 a year for those not good with numbers.
Petrol variants will also set you back $1500 for five years/130,000km. Warranty cover is the increasingly below-par three years/100,000km.
So, too, are some cheeky little options, such as $180 for what Range Rover calls Power Socket Pack 2, which is basically a couple of USB points in the back row. The front row features two USB ports as standard, along with a 12V plug.
The list of options is exhaustive (21 pages), so we’ll delve into them as we cycle the range of Evoques through the CarAdvice garage. Suffice to say, though, both our testers at launch came with a healthy dollop of added extras.
The entry-level P200 S carried around $15K worth of goodies including 20-inch alloys (18s are standard), a panoramic sunroof, premium LED headlights with signature daytime-running lights, JLR’s Drive Pack, which includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and high-speed autonomous emergency braking, and a premium Meridian sound system.
There’s also the Park Pack, which incorporates clear exit monitor, reverse traffic detection, park assist, and 360-degree parking aid. Then there’s a $900 sting in the tail for keyless entry and push-button start, a $480 powered tailgate, DAB radio, and the previously mentioned Power Socket Pack.
All up, your circa $62K Evoque is looking more like a $77,555 plus on-roads proposition. Similarly, the R-Dynamic D240 SE carried around $13K of extra goodies for an as-tested price of $101,193 plus on-road costs.
Despite bundling a host of advanced safety features into the options pile, the new Evoque wears a five-star ANCAP rating, just awarded. Standard safety features in the entry-level model include autonomous emergency braking (low speed), a rear-view camera, driver-condition monitor, and lane-keeping assist.
Moving up the Evoque-model food chain adds incrementally more safety features (largely available in optional packs in lower models on the rung) until you reach the R-Dynamic HSE, which only lists a 360-degree camera as an optional item.
If Range Rover’s brief was to evolve the style-focussed Evoque into an even more stylish and refined medium SUV, then it has nailed it. The new-generation Evoque takes everything that was good about the old model and improves on it.
From its handsome exterior to its premium cabin, from its composed road manners to its (rarely used, in all likelihood) off-road capabilities, the new Range Rover Evoque is an impressive player in the premium medium-SUV segment.