(Pocket-lint) - How do you improve on a vehicle that has shifted in excess of 770,000 units worldwide and picked up over 200 awards during its tenure? According to engineers at Range Rover, you rip it up and start again.
The new Evoque may look like it shares many stylistic cues with the vehicle it replaces, but dig a little deeper and you'll realise this is very much a new proposition, boasting a box fresh architecture, revised powertrains and an interior that shares very little with the outgoing model.
That's probably a good thing, because anyone who has spent some time with the previous model will likely admit that the compromise for such avant garde SUV styling and inner-city chic is a driving experience that failed to excite, while clunky interior technology and overall refinement generally fell short of the full fat Range Rover experience.
Thankfully, this has been well and truly remedied, with the addition of some truly clever technological firsts and the promise of plug-in hybrid powertrains proving Range Rover's commitment to covering all customer requirements and tastes.
Despite the previous generation Evoque proving a huge success for Land Rover, the British marque has ventured back to the drawing board and created a proposition that drives, rides and handles with greater finesse than ever before.
Comfortable over long distances, fun on the twisty routes (especially with the more powerful petrol engine) and impressive off-road, it is a machine that caters for all lifestyles. The fact that most customers will rarely venture further than a country fair car park is a shame, but then its off-road camera technology is just as useful in the urban environment as it is in the wilderness.
You'll find greater interior roominess, as well as more generous boot space, in some rival SUVs (despite the Evoque's luggage space increasing by 10 per cent), while much cheaper, more practical and less style-focused competition is now readily available.
However, this new Evoque wears the Range Rover badge with pride and feels more like a proper grown up product. Just expect to part with proper groan up prices to have one on your driveway.
Range Rover Evoque (2019)
- Lavish interiors
- Clever camera tech
- Refined ride
- Infotainment system a little slow
- It's not cheap
Arguably the slightest changes have occurred on the outside, where the general recipe has been refined and exaggerated in equal measure. Gone is the clunky cladding from the wheel arches and fussy curves, as we welcome in a cleaner, more powerful shoulder line and a squat, more athletic presence.
The exterior is generally less chintzy than before: there are those lovely pop-out door handles carried over from the Velar, giving a locked Evoque beautifully clean surfaces; super-slim Matrix LED headlamps and sweeping indicators add a premium touch; very on-trend burnished copper accents (they’re optional) bring a fashionable element; while massive 21-inch wheels strike a serious pose on the road.
If the previous generation Victoria Beckham-inspired model was a Longchamp tote bag, this update is more Chanel - simple, refined but classy.
Remarkably, it hasn't lost that classic Evoque DNA and because 70 per cent of its customers live in urban areas, the engineers were under strict instructions to keep the proportions broadly similar, so exterior dimensions and footprint remain largely unaffected by the new threads.
The interior, on the other hand, is barely recognisable, as Land Rover's design team has stripped away any unnecessary switchgear in favour of the Touch Pro Duo 2 infotainment system (also from the Velar), which comprises two crystal clear displays that take care of most functionality.
This leaves beautifully crisp surfaces, which are covered in a variety of premium, soft-touch fabrics (depending on the trim level), while clever stowage solutions allow for tablets, handbags and bottles to be stashed without ruining the generally serene and uncluttered atmosphere.
Classic premium materials, such as leather and piano black surfaces, can be optioned, but Range Rover sales folk would rather push you towards the more modern fabrics, such as the achingly hip Kvadrat wool blend and Dinamica suedecloth, as well as Eucalyptus and Ultrafabrics that are formed from recycled plastics.
Even on the more basic 'S' models, these funky new textiles feel great to touch and look far better than anything cheaper rivals offer across their more basic ranges.
Some may think it's a little strange that the baby, city-dwelling Range Rover of the bunch receives some of the brand's most exciting off-road tech, but this is going to be a volume player for Land Rover, so it needs to impress on the gadgetry front.
To combat the slimline rear window (you can thank the coupe-like exterior lines for that), the marque has come up with a clever rear-view mirror that handily switches from regular reflective surface to extremely clever rear-facing camera feed.
Dubbed ClearSight, this technology can be activated by flicking a switch underneath the regular glass mirror, which activates a HD screen overlay. Although handy for tricky parking manoeuvres, the camera does feel a little distracting when first using it on the road at speed.
On top of this, there's a lack of digital overlay that suggests where the rear of the car is located, so judging distances can be a tad tricky, but this gets a bit easier with time.
More impressive still is the Ground View technology, which takes a feed from a camera located in the bonnet and two units embedded in the door mirror to create a live feed of the earth underneath the car. By digitally overlaying the wheels, it makes it possible to sight tricky kerbs and obstacles, as well as avoiding any large boulders that threaten to attack the bottom of the car.
This technology was put to the test when Land Rover decided to send us along a disused railway track on the launch event, the Ground View technology giving a clear indication of where the large hunks of rusty iron were placed so we could carefully keep the tyres from shredding.
As enticing as the tech may seem, it does carry a £300+ price premium, which can easily see the cost of a glamorously appointed Evoque spiral into £50,000 territory.
The marque's latest twin touchscreen TouchPro Duo 2 system is also optional across most of the range (expect it bundled in to the higher spec SE and HSE models) but brings an extra level of sophistication to proceedings.
As seen in the Velar (and a version of it is in the Jaguar i-Pace), the bottom half of this twin screen setup deals with heating and vehicle system settings, while the top screen takes care of infotainment needs.
Despite featuring the firm's fastest processer speeds and the latest hardware, it felt a little bit slow to react on the test route, while some of the icons are small and fiddly to prod, but it looks excellent and the graphics are pin-sharp.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility also comes as standard with this system, as does the option to accept over-the-air (OTA) updates in order to keep the system fresh without the need to visit a dealers.
Two variants were available to drive at launch: a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, which develops 180hp; and a petrol version that pushes out a far more joyous 250hp.
All engines with an automatic transmission are mated to 48V mild hybrid technology, which harvests energy normally lost during deceleration thanks to the engine-mounted belt-integrated starter generator, and stores it in the under-floor battery pack.
At speeds below 11mph, the engine will shut off while the driver applies the brakes, and when pulling away the battery will power a small electric motor to help with acceleration.
The system is barely noticeable under normal driving conditions but it helps lower CO2 emissions and generally improves fuel economy figures. Although the more powerful petrol engine still only managed around 30mpg during our test run.
Those looking for a greener option will have to wait another year, when a plug-in variant will be available. It will couple with a three-cylinder petrol engine and will offer a reasonable all-electric range for guilt-free inner city driving.
Where the previous generation would have complained at the first sight of a corner, this all-new architecture offers a much more engaging drive, without sacrificing comfort or refinement. Granted, the steering feels a little vague but the new Evoque offers bags of grip and can be genuinely fun to drive on the twisty routes.
On the motorway, both the diesel and petrol models prove quiet and refined, while Land Rover's typically robust off-road technology is ever present. Flick the clever Terrain Response 2 technology into Auto mode and it will detect the surface and grip levels, pumping power to the correct wheel at all times.
Wading depth has increased from 500mm to 600mm, which is actually greater than the official figure cited for the run-out Defender model, while the MacPherson Hydrobush front and Integral Link rear suspension with Adaptive Dynamics technology do a good job of smoothing out the lumps both on road and off.
Bizarrely for an off-road vehicle, the design department decided not to fit grab handles to the Evoque's interior, so bumpy terrain can be a bit of a pain for passengers. Apparently, this was down to the lower roofline getting in the way and designers generally wanting to keep the interior free from such fussy extras.
Redesigned from the ground up, this all-new Evoque might bear a striking resemblance to its predecessor but it feels like an entirely new vehicle to drive. Improved ride, more luxurious interiors, cutting-edge tech and the promise of plug-in powertrains point towards a sure-fire hit.