WE fell in love with the Range Rover Evoque.

As a pioneer of the luxury compact SUV market and the fastest-selling selling Land Rover car ever, it stole hearts all over the planet. The boxy but stately Range Rover suddenly looked chic and glamorous in its new form.

With global sales of 785,000 since 2010 – and more than 700,000 of them still out there – the Evoque racked up award after award (217 internationally in fact) and found popularity both in the city and among countryside dwellers.

So the second generation, now rolling off the production line at the Halewood plant in Liverpool, is tasked with making a great car feel and look even better. More than 500 companies are supplying the plant, where more than 1,000 robots supplement the 4,000 workers making the Evoque and the Land Rover Discovery Sport.

Key to its success will be the new levels of refinement and luxury, yet it is still instantly recognisable through its coupé-like silhouette, typified by its distinctive fast roofline and rising waist, alongside new 21-inch wheels. However, only the door hinges remain from the previous model.

Inside, there’s an air of serenity and sophistication. Uncluttered surfaces combine with quality materials and hi-tech gadgetry to create what the designers call a “luxurious, digital cabin”.

It’s very modern car, with a definite nod to the traditional. For example, textiles that use recycled plastics are offered as premium alternatives to leather, while the twin touchscreen features new, faster software and16-way seat controls and cabin air ionisation complement the increased interior space.

Land Rover’s new mixed-material architecture has created that extra space. A longer wheelbase yields 20mm extra rear knee room and even a six-footer travelling in the rear seats will still find they have plenty of headroom to spare.

There’s also an increase in small item stowage – the larger glove box and centre cubby can now fit tablets, handbags and bottles with ease. The luggage space is ten per cent larger (591litres now) as well as much wider and easily fits a folded pram or set of golf clubs, with space increasing to 1,383 litres when the second-row seats are folded.

The new architecture has been developed for electrification, with a 48-volt mild-hybrid available now and a plug-in hybrid model to be offered later in the year, alongside a three-cylinder petrol Ingenium engine.

The mild hybrid powertrain is a first for Land Rover and works by harvesting energy normally lost during deceleration. At speeds below 11mph, the engine will shut off while the driver applies the brakes. When pulling away, the stored energy is redeployed to assist the engine under acceleration and reduce fuel consumption.

Available across the range when specified with the nine-speed automatic gearbox, the mild hybrid delivers CO2 emissions from 149g/km and fuel economy from 50.4mpg.

More clever stuff comes in the form of the Evoque’s world-first ClearSight Ground View technology, which creates what is in effect an invisible bonnet by projecting camera imagery on to the upper touchscreen to show the driver a 180-degree view under the front of the vehicle. In addition, the ClearSight smart rear-view mirror transforms into an HD video screen, allowing the driver’s view to remain unrestricted by passengers or large items in the back.

The new Evoque is also the first Land Rover with so-called smart settings, which uses artificial intelligence to learn the driver’s habits, media preferences, and preferred temperature settings.

The entry point for the choice of engines is a manual, two-wheel drive D150 Ingenium 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel. Step up to the automatic 178bhp D180 version and you get an extra turbocharger for better acceleration.

For those who prefer a petrol unit, the P200 comes with a 2.0-litre 197bhp turbocharged engine. The P250 takes the power up to 246bhp, while the 299bhp P300 – tested here - gets hot-hatch acceleration of 0 to 62mph in 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 150mph. The petrol models come with four-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic gearbox.

Terrain Response 2 automatically detects the surface being driven on adjusts the set-up accordingly, while the Evoque can now wade through water up to 600mm (up100mm over previous generation).

The luxury cabin has a greater focus on usability and intuitive technologies. The two screens and switches of the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system are the focal point of the interior, integrating touchscreen technology with rotary dials.

The Evoque will retain an average of 63 per cent of its value across the range after three years or 36,000 miles.

As part of a full day of road testing, I was asked to take the Evoque through a Land Rover Experience off-road course. The Terrain Response system is now so sophisticated that there is barely any need to choose one of the touchscreen icons to traverse across mud, water, snow, grass or gravel. The hill descent feature with adjustable speed limit is still there and is as reliable as ever, but for virtually any other challenge the car should make the necessary adjustment.

As I later cruised effortlessly along B-roads the thought occurred to me that virtually every Evoque sold will go nowhere near the sort of terrain I had just encountered. But without that off-road technology, it just would not be a member of the Land Rover family. And for all that sophistication and charm, the Evoque remains at its heart a car that will handle virtually any environment you care to mention.


Range Rover Evoque P300 HSE R-Dynamic

Price: from £51,050 (Evoque range from £31,600)

Engine: Ingenium two-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol, producing 300hp

Transmission: Nine-speed automatic driving all wheels

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 6.6 seconds; top speed 150mph

Economy: 28.7mpg

CO2 emissions: 186g/km


Performance: ****

Economy: ***

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: *****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ****