Review: Range Rover Evoque 2016
The Evoque has always had something for everyone, and this year’s updates just make it an even stronger all-rounder.
Despite only having been on sale since 2011, the Range Rover Evoque has rapidly established itself as one of Land Rover’s most popular models.
The wanton style has always alienated a few, but many more have been attracted by the prospect of a mid-sized SUV with sharp looks, premium quality and Land Rover’s legendary off-road prowess, as well as the kudos of the Range Rover nameplate.
For the mid-life facelift, the grumbly 2.2-litre diesel engine has been replaced by the 2.0-litre Ingenium engine, and there’s the odd aesthetic update to boot. So is it an improvement?
Considering the Evoque’s enduring popularity, it’s no surprise that the updates have been minimal, but there have been one or two changes. The most striking of these is the new LED daytime running lights, which use the brand’s now-trademark narrow lines of light.
Logic dictates that such a tiny, tiny change shouldn’t really make much odds, but it does make the car look more purposeful and more focused.
The rest of the changes are even more subtle, with the bonnet mounted vents previously only seen on three-door variants making their way onto high-end five-door models like our HSE Dynamic test car.
Anoraks might also notice that the central brake light is now wider and narrower, but if Land Rover hadn’t told us about it we wouldn’t have noticed.
When all’s said and done, though, it’s a look that obviously isn’t broken, so why fix it?
The same attitude has been applied inside, where there are new seats and an upgraded infotainment system. It looks a bit better for the update, but it isn’t quite the change we’d hoped for, with Land Rover simply choosing to apply a slightly larger screen and updated software to the existing set-up, rather than introducing the all-new system from the Jaguar XE.
We were hoping for a slight improvement in cabin quality too, but some of the scratchy plastic and wafer-thin switchgear has still made it into the new model despite a £900 increase in the asking price. Still, it’s well put together and with a list price half the size of the Range Rover Sport’s, it would be a little unfair to expect quite the same materials.
The Evoque’s squat shape and low roof may lead you to think it’s far from practical, but you’d be wrong. Practicality is not this car’s forte – Land Rover has the seven-seat Discovery Sport for that – but it won’t make you compromise in the same way some fashionable cars might.
For example, there’s plenty of room in there for four adults, and seating three kids on the rear bench shouldn’t be a problem either. In addition, the 420-litre boot should be more than capable of carting the weekly shop around, although packing a couple of medium-sized suitcases in there will eat up the vast majority of the useable space.
It’s still a competent 4x4, too. Sharing most of its underpinnings with the Discovery Sport and its Freelander-badged precursor, there’s no questioning the Evoque’s Land Rover credentials.
Admittedly, it doesn’t have the capability of the old Defender, and you won’t find any locking differentials or low-range gearboxes, but 215mm of ground clearance is as respectable as the 500mm maximum wading depth.
Certainly, it won’t have any problem with muddy fields or farm tracks, and that’s about as much off-roading as most customers will ever do.
As capable as the Evoque is off-road, it’s very much set up as a road car, and that’s reflected in the new engine range.
There’s a choice of three four-cylinder engines from Jaguar Land Rover’s Ingenium range: two 2.0-litre turbodiesels and a turbocharged petrol that also displaces two litres.
Diesel is likely to be the fuel of choice for most customers, and they’ll have the option of two- or four-wheel drive and automatic or manual transmissions.
Of all the engines, the best efficiency can be had from the entry-level 2.0-litre diesel, which boasts 148bhp and comes with a six-speed manual transmission. It doesn’t have the four-wheel-drive model’s mud-plugging capability, but it’ll return up to 67.3mpg when fitted to the three-door Evoque.
If you want four-wheel-drive, however, you’ll be looking at the 177bhp engine found in our test car. It’s less efficient than the 148bhp engine, but the five-door’s 58.9mpg and 125g/km CO2 emissions are still improvements on the old 2.2-litre engine that used to power the Evoque.
Forgetting facts and figures for a moment, though, the highlight of the new engine is its refinement. Where the old 2.2 grumbled and growled, the new engine simply rumbles distantly. Listen carefully and there’s no mistaking the diesel clatter, but it’s so much smoother than its predecessor. It’s even quiet enough to render the petrol engine semi-redundant.
On the road
The petrol engine’s key use, then, is performance, and there’s certainly plenty of that. Where the most powerful diesel can only manage 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds (9.5 with the manual transmission), the 237bhp petrol will complete the sprint in 7.1 seconds.
You might have thought this unnecessary in a medium-sized SUV, but the Evoque can actually cope with it. It’s no Porsche, but when Dynamic mode is engaged it’s quite an enjoyable steer.
The steering feels meatier and the springs are firmed up to reduce the roll. The trade-off is a reduction in comfort, but the Evoque never becomes as harsh as hot hatches like the Ford Focus ST or compact SUVs like the Nissan Juke.
For us, though, the pick of the bunch is the top-end diesel with the nine-speed automatic gearbox. Leave it in normal mode and you’ll find it a refined, comfortable and relaxed cruiser with a plenty of pace.
You can’t really go far wrong when it comes to trim levels though, given that even entry-level SE models come with leather upholstery, heated seats, automatic lights and wipers, the 8in colour touchscreen infotainment system and 18in alloys, but moving up the range will add a reversing camera and satellite navigation.
Average three-year business lease deals for five-door diesels come in at around £375 per month, while personal deals average £451 per month.*
Though some see the Evoque as just a fashion accessory, style is just one of the many strings adorning the baby Range Rover’s bow. The Evoque has always had something for everyone, and this year’s updates just make it an even stronger all-rounder.
*Average lease rates calculated using ContractHireAndLeasing.com data and correct at time of writing.
With thanks to the Avro Heritage Museum for allowing ContractHireAndLeasing.com to photograph the Evoque alongside Avro Vulcan XM603.