Five years on from launch, the Range Rover Evoque has been tweaked and fitted with JLR’s impressive Ingenium turbodiesel. Is it still the must-have crossover in the premium sector?
We love the Range Rover Evoque at AROnline. It’s the car that brought super-profitability to Jaguar Land Rover, opened new markets for the company and delivered a desirable, aspirational product to a much wider audience. No wonder you voted it your Car of The Year in 2011. Five years on, it’s still in huge demand but, despite that, Land Rover isn’t resting on its laurels, giving the Evoque a mid-life refresh – and introducing the Ingenium engine into the mix.
Thankfully, Land Rover hasn’t messed too much with the Evoque’s groundbreaking styling, as penned by Julian Thomson and ex-Lincoln Designer Jeremy Waterman. The visual changes are limited to optional all-LED headlights, the corporate LED running light shape, and new LED tail lights. There are also larger air intakes, as previewed in the 2014 Autobiography model.
Inside, it’s been mildly tweaked, too. The infotainment screen has been upgraded (it’s faster and easier to use than before), and the instruments have been modernised, with a new central supplementary screen. It’s very much in keeping with the more upmarket Range Rovers, and much more pleasing on the eyes. We also rather like the optional head-up display (£1000), which given its contribution to driver safety, should be offered as part of the standard equipment package.
The big news is the addition of that Ingenium engine. It wasn’t as if the old Ford TDCi power unit was lacking in power but, compared with the best of the best opposition, it wasn’t that economical or that clean at the tailpipe. That’s all changed now – although there was something of a wait for the new four-cylinder oil-burner to make it to the Evoque. Put that down to the modifications needed to make it fit in the transverse engine bay of the Evoque, and the need to meet Land Rover’s wading depth requirements.
This model pumps out 177bhp , and is fitted with JLR’s nine-speed auto for a 0-60mph time of 8.5 seconds and a maximum speed of 121mph – more than enough to keep up with the flow. Although the entry-level Evoque develops 109g/km CO2 and makes 68mpg (combined), this one is a little juicier at 134g/km and 55mpg (combined). In reality, and during our week behind the wheel, we averaged 40mpg – which is more than acceptable for your company expenses, given the combination of city and motorway driving we subjected it to.
Unlike the Jaguar XE we recently tested, refinement levels seem very impressive indeed. We’ll put that down to the excellent sound deadening in this 1690kg car. At idle, it’s soft and muted, and throttle response is keen. The nine-speed torque-converter transmission shifts beautifully between ratios, and never is it wrong-footed, even when trundling along the motorway at the legal limit in the long-striding top gear, at less than 2000rpm. Moreover, in give-and-take driving, it feels genuinely alert and rapid, without the need to resort to driving hard.
On B-roads, the high seating position and effortless speed give the driver confidence, while the light and quick steering result in sharp turn-in. This is an impressive effort by the JLR Chassis Engineers, who have clearly given the car a little more agility, thanks to its lighter drivetrain. Of course, Evoques aren’t generally bought to pile down B-roads, but it’s good to know it has genuine dynamic prowess should you feel in the mood to have fun.
No, the Evoque’s USP is it’s ability to make the driver feel good – and that process begins even before you jump in. The edgy styling, restful interior and upscale overall ambiance is something that none of its rivals come close to matching – not the BMW X3 or Audi Q3, perhaps the Jaguar F-Pace, but – ahem – we won’t mention that here.
This, then, is great news for Land Rover. Five years on, it’s still endowed with massive doses of pure want. In facelifted form, the Evoque is still a front-line contender in the executive car market. The updates merely improve a design that’s done wonders for its maker, and spawned a generation of impersonators. It’s not perfect, and at £51,650 tested, it’s a very pricey option – consider that the brilliant Lexus RX450h we recently tested is usefully cheaper. However, if feeling good about yourself means more than mere money, or your fleet manager is a generous soul, this five-year old groundbreaker still makes a great deal of sense.