Range Rover’s best-selling style icon returns for a second round, but does it have the goods to back up its looks?
Photos: Leow Ju-Len & Ben Chia
At first glance, the new Range Rover Evoque looks almost exactly the same as the previous model. Indeed, it probably takes a seasoned spotter to identify this latest version, despite Land Rover’s claims that there is almost nothing shared between the old car and the new one.
It’s easy to see why the Land Rover has chosen to retain the Evoque’s style for the new generation. After all, this is a car that, in eight years of production, has sold almost 800,000 units worldwide, and nearly 2,000 units here in Singapore, in the process helping the company rake in plenty of profits. Something about not changing a winning formula and all that.
But make no mistake, this Evoque is completely brand new, according to the company. There’s a new platform that is designed to accommodate electric and hybrid drivetrains, a new engine, and a completely redesigned interior that’s inspired by its Velar bigger brother. So it’s the opposite of cosmetic surgery: same looks but different person underneath.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that to be honest. Despite its popularity and ubiquity, the Evoque still manages to turn heads wherever you go. That sleek profile, with its rearward sloping roof and rising belt line, is now complemented by cool details like the slimmer rear lights and the flush door handles that pop out when the car is unlocked (another Velar neat trick). If anything, the Evoque is probably more stylish than ever with these fancy trimmings.
That sense of style translates to the inside too, with the Evoque now featuring a more modern and upmarket cabin more befitting of its standing in the premium SUV class. The twin touchscreens on the dashboard (again, borrowed from the Velar) feels lush and contemporary, while the gimmicky rotary gear shifter has now been consigned to the history books, replaced by a regular stick.
Land Rover has also tweaked the Evoque a little to address one of its long-time concerns, namely lack of interior space. The wheelbase has been lengthened by 21mm, which means that rear passengers have a better chance of staying comfortable and remaining as mates on road trips, rather than arguing over legroom.
All well and good, and Land Rover has done well to rectify some of the issues that the previous version was criticised for. But that doesn’t mean that the Evoque is without flaws.
For one, it is generally uninspiring to drive. The engine sounds fairly unrefined on the outside, as evidence when a good friend of mine asked, upon first seeing the car, whether it was a diesel engine under the bonnet.
It is not. Instead, the Evoque uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-pot petrol, and in launch model First Edition guise, churns out 249bhp and 365Nm of torque. It does offer pretty decent shove, with 0-100km/h coming up in 7.5 seconds. Power is delivered in a fairly linear and smooth fashion via the nine-speed automatic gearbox, which offers pretty quick and responsive shifts.
However, the engine turned out to be alarmingly thirsty. While Land Rover quotes a fuel consumption figure of 8.1 litres per 100km, over the Hari Raya holiday we managed closer to 14 litres per 100km, almost draining the 67-litre fuel tank in just three days. We weren’t particularly hard on the car, with a mixture of spirited and gentle driving (although it did spend quite some time idle for photoshoots), so to see such a disparity was puzzling.
Even more so given that the Evoque now has a 48-volt mild hybrid system, although in fairness the system mostly works like KERS in an F1 car, harvesting energy lost while braking and redeploying them for acceleration. Still, 14 litres per 100km on a modern day four-cylinder, even in an SUV, feels a tad excessive.
The Evoque also has a strangely uneasy ride on all but the smoothest of road surfaces, with the suspension crashing over bumps despite feeling softly-sprung. And while it generally handles decently for an SUV, there is a fair amount of pitch and roll evident, indicating that the Evoque doesn’t quite enjoy being driven hard.
It probably won’t matter a jot to the Evoque’s target customer base though, because this is a car whose main objective is to make their owners look good. In that aspect, the Evoque has done well, without having to change the formula too much. At the same time it has addressed key concerns of practicality and quality, and that should probably be enough for it to sell another 800,000 units in its lifetime.
Range Rover Evoque First Edition
Engine 1,997cc, inline 4, turbocharged
Power 249hp at 5500rpm
Torque 365Nm at 1300-4500rpm
Gearbox 9-speed automatic
0-100km/h 7.5 seconds
Top Speed 230km/h
Fuel Efficiency 8.1L/100km
VES Band / CO2 C1 / 182g/km
Agent Wearnes Automotive
Price S$256,999 with COE
Verdict: New Evoque looks the same and feels better inside, but could do with a bit more refinement