Ride, Handling & Performance
Interior Comfort & Practicality
Technology & Safety
Value & Ownership
Automotive fashion statement or fair dinkum Range Rover? Regardless of what column you sit in, the Evoque has always divided opinion.
Range Rover has always been about bringing together off-road capability and luxury, but as the smallest model to wear the badge, the Evoque has generally found favour with city drivers leading it to compete with rivals from BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
Now in its second-generation, the 2020 Range Rover Evoque has matured, taking on more of the family traits found on its larger brothers.
The new Evoque range is priced from $64,640 plus on-road costs. Our test car is the Evoque R-Dynamic SE P250 (yeah, it’s a mouthful) which jumps to $75,840 plus on-roads.
For some unknown reason, the Evoque range launched with a ridiculous 26 variants spread across seven trim levels with six engine options. The unnecessarily long list of models is at odds with Jaguar Land Rover’s recent efforts to simplify its local product range.
The R-Dynamic SE trim is positioned towards the top of the Evoque line-up and comes somewhat well equipped for a premium offering. Standard fare includes All Terrain Progress Control, Terrain Response 2, LED headlights, a powered tailgate, and the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Moving to safety tech, autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, park assist and rear cross-traffic alert are all included. Crash testing firm ANCAP has awarded the Evoque a five-star safety rating.
On the surface, the spec level looks good, but deeper analysis reveals some omissions. In a $75K car buyers are asked to pay more for keyless entry and start ($900), DAB digital radio ($400), adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring (part of a pack with high-speed AEB $1340), and a head-up display ($1300). At this level, these extras really should be standard.
We need to comment on the design, while the new Evoque is a good looking SUV in its own right, it’s no longer the style icon it was. The new generation has taken on so much of the family DNA it has lost its individuality, now it just blends into the wider Range Rover line-up. It no longer makes the statement a fashionista would want.
Don’t get us wrong, our silver tester with gloss black and rose gold accents looked decisively upmarket, but proportionally, the Evoque can’t match the Velar for presence and style.
Moving to the inside, the Evoque feels every bit the luxury SUV. The material choices are what gives the car some genuine elegance. Best of all is what the brand calls a Eucalyptus Textile and Ultrafabrics that covers the seats in place of the expected leather. It looks and feels great and will serve you well on days when the mercury climbs.
Another lovely inclusion is the suedecloth-covered steering wheel, it feels beautiful under the hands and adds an extra special touch to the driving experience. While it’s brilliant when new, long term reports of the durability of fabric-trimmed steering wheels aren't promising. It needs to be looked after properly from the get-go, unlike leather, suedecloth can’t be neglected for years and then be revived when the mood strikes.
There are some slight idiosyncrasies like the removable cupholder cover, surely the clever people at Land Rover could've installed a retractable cover.
At times, we lamented the lack of tactility with all the major controls now housed in the dual-touchscreen system. Sometimes it’s just easier to turn a dial when on the move.
The infotainment system is easier to manipulate, but more often than not we reverted to the convenience of Apple CarPlay. The system looks great, but the tilting screen that leans forward from the dash on start-up could be better integrated. To a large degree, the two screens in the centre stack play second fiddle to the excellent digital instrument cluster which presents all the data you need.
Room in the back is tight with legroom in short supply. On the flip side, rear passengers get to enjoy proper air vents, a power outlet and the same materials from the front row.
The boot offers a usable 591L of space and features one of the fastest automatic tailgates we’ve come across. In an era where the automatic opening of the rear can be painfully slow, the prompt opening and closing here are welcome.
Driving the Evoque is a bit of a mixed bag, the 183kW/365Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine packs enough punch which is sent to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission.
On test, take-off was consistently jerky as the transmission progresses through the ratios. The culprit seemed to be the calibration of the throttle control. When moving, everything settled into a smooth rhythm.
Once up and going, the Evoque again reminds us of its luxury status, the ride and refinement are brilliant which is surprising given the optional 21-inch wheels on our test car.
Also on our tester is the optional Adaptive Dynamics which monitors the car’s movements and makes adjustments based on driver inputs and the road conditions to smooth everything out to keep the ride comfortable. Ticking the box adds $1950 to the cost, though we think it’s money well spent.
While we are talking options, the $515 ClearSight rear-view mirror is also worthy of serious consideration. The tech turns the mirror into a digital screen that shows a crisp image of what’s behind the car. Both day and night, it performs flawlessly and greatly increases rear visibility.
The neutral handling and compliant suspension are all about a luxury drive, it’s not trying to be sporty as is often the case with cars in this segment.
To strengthen the case for the Evoque to be classed as a proper Range Rover, the Evoque is equipped with the brand’s All Terrain Progress Control and Terrain Response 2 system which gives the car more off-road ability than it will ever need. It also gives the car a unique point of difference when compared to German equivalents.
With the right tyres, the Evoque will cover a wide spread of recreational activities. We wouldn’t expect it to keep up with a Discovery but it will be capable of more than it’s likely to ever be asked to undertake.
While it possesses the capability, in all seriousness, is anybody going to buy an Evoque to take bush? We highly doubt it.
After covering 662km during our week with the Evoque, our average consumption figure came in at 10.2L/100km, noticeably above the claimed 8.1L/100km.
In terms of ownership, Land Rover offers a pre-paid service plan for $1950 that covers the Evoque for five years or 102,000km, whatever comes first. In the context of the premium segment, it’s good value.
Land Rover's three-year, 100,00km warranty coverage is disappointing. The majority of mainstream brands now offer a minimum of five-year coverage. Rival Lexus offers a four-year warranty while Mercedes-Benz has recently made the permanent move to a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. The pressure is now on Jaguar Land Rover, BMW and Audi to lift their game.
The matured Evoque does offer something different to the cars offered by rivals, but it’s caught between other Land Rover models. The Discovery Sport provides the same off-road tech and high level of presentation for less, on the other side, when speccing an Evoque, the final price can easily intrude on the territory occupied by the larger and better proportioned Velar.
As tested, with options our Evoque totalled $90,005 plus on-road costs which is bordering on unjustifiable. Our pick would be the Evoque S P250 that asks a far sharper $66,840. It gets the off-road tech if you are that way inclined and leaves room to tick a few options to personalise the car.
So to answer our opening question, the Evoque does offer the necessary off-road tech and luxury ride to legitimately wear the famous badge. Despite being stripped of its bespoke style, it still presents a package strong enough to swing buyers away from German rivals that will go no further off-road than the nearest croquet lawn.
2020 Range Rover Evoque R-Dynamic SE P250 Specifications
Price from $75,840 plus on-road costs Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol Power 183kW @ 5500rpm Torque 365Nm @ 1200-1500rpm Transmission nine-speed automatic Combined Fuel Consumption 8.1L/100km Tank Capacity 67L Length 4371mm Width 2100mm (including mirrors) Height 1649mm Wheelbase 2681mm Kerb Weight 1862kg Performance 0-100km 7.5 seconds Ground Clearance 212mm Wading Depth 600mm Turning Circle 11.6m Service Intervals 12 months/20,000km Warranty three-year/100,000km