• 2020 Range Rover Evoque

2020 Range Rover Evoque is Land Rover’s First Hybrid

Stunning advances in design and technology will be unveiled in Canada at Montreal auto show

Norris McDonald By: Norris McDonald November 23, 2018

LONDON – Thursday dawned dull and gloomy in this ancient city and there was more than a little nip in the air. It was the perfect day to introduce some sunshine.

Enter Jaguar Land Rover.

The British automobile company chose Nov. 22 to unveil the latest edition of its best-selling compact luxury SUV, the 2020-model Ranger Rover Evoque, and what a stunning advance in design and technology it is. It promises – among other things – a smoother ride, more room for people in the car, and an increase in space in which to put cargo and small-item stuff like purses and boxes of tissue.

In addition, new off-road technologies guarantee that the car is as comfortable making its way through fields or cottage roads full of mud and water as it is on three- or four-lane expressways.

An example of that technology, for instance, is a camera system called the “ClearSight Ground View,` which lets a driver see what`s underneath the front of the car. This helps when you`re trying not to drive over a big rock – and I know this from experience, having slowly manoeuvred an Evoque through an east-end London obstacle course prior to its global unveiling.

Another tech breakthrough is the “ClearSight Rear View Mirror.“ If there are, for instance, three people sitting in the back of the car, and you can`t properly see who or what is behind you, a touch of a toggle switch turns the mirror into a rear-view camera and you can suddenly see everything.

That is not an exaggeration.

Now, with all this good comes a little bad. While a 48-volt mild-hybrid powertrain coupled with a four-cylinder gasoline engine will be available for purchase in the 2020 model year, a plug-in hybrid will not. And there will be no diesel-powered engine available, period.

But a four-cylinder, gas-powered 246-hp P250 will be in Canadian showrooms next year, as will the 296-hp MHEV P300. But that’s all the product that’s expected in the short term.

That mild-hybrid powertrain, by the way, is a first for Land Rover. Energy normally lost during deceleration is stored in a battery under the floor. When the driver accelerates, the energy will then be retrieved to help boost engine performance until the car gets back to cruising speed.

In the end, though, the new Evoque is really all about design, both inside as well as outside the car. Said chief design officer Gerry McGovern: “When the Range Rover Evoque made its debut back in 2010, it transformed the world of compact SUVs (and) the new model is set to continue that remarkable journey. This vehicle combines refinement and fun, to create that all important emotional reaction that will turn heads and make people smile.”

2020 Range Rover Evoque

In an interview, I asked McGovern if he could pick just one thing about this new car, what would it be? His answer was not surprising.

“It’s the whole thing,” he said. “I look at the bigger picture and for me it’s the overall message of what the car is – and what it’s about. Take its character. The character comes from an accumulation of all the detail. What I would say about this over the predecessor, and I love the predecessor, is it’s got more of an on-road orientation; it looks less off-road. It’s very refined in its level of sophistication. The other manufacturers, they’re very ‘busy.’ We’re not. It’s as much about what it hasn’t got on it as it is about what it has got on it.”

In that vein, then, the exterior is smooth but very masculine. Think of a close shave. The wheelarches, the 21-inch wheels and the flowing roofline emphasize the vehicle’s  dynamism and strength. Slim LED headlights and flush door handles add to the uncluttered exterior that looks built for speed.

Inside, there are a number of improvements and refinements. Because the wheelbase is 21 mm longer, legs and knees have more room and because there are new seat mounting points, there is more space for those feet under those seats.

There are two 10-inch touchscreens for everything from interior-temperature controls to FM radio-station lineups and the centre console is larger with sliding armrests and a storage area for smartphones. Space in the doors can accommodate large bottles of water, or purses.

Modern Sound for Classic JLR Vehicles

The seats are ergonomically sensitive and covered by a selection of responsibly-sourced materials including Eucalyptus-derived textiles and Kvadrat wool blends.

(The Land Rover brand’s commitment to sustainability is evident in a range of innovative new textiles, which offer sumptuous alternatives to leather). And up to 33 kilograms (72.8-lbs) of natural and recycled materials are used in every Range Rover Evoque

Said Amy Frascella, chief designer color and materials, Land Rover:

“We placed a great deal of focus on the creation of a refined, sumptuous interior and exterior color and material details. New materials designed and developed to offer different technical attributes alongside a more modern look and feel combine to offer more contemporary options for one of our most progressive vehicles yet.”

One other thing. The new Range Rover Evoque – some other manufacturers make a big deal out of features like these – is the first Land Rover vehicle to employ Smart Settings, a system that learns the driver’s preferences (seat position, climate settings) in order to automate comfort and media settings.

All in all, this suggests the new Evoque is one fine car.

Okay, it`s time to look at some of the nuts and bolts.

Offered for the first time on the Range Rover Evoque, Terrain Response technology provides an automatic mode to Terrain Response settings.

∙ Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connect you to your smartphone; an available 4G WiFi hotspot connects you to the internet, and InControl Remote connects you to the vehicle.

∙ New Land Rover Premium Transverse Architecture is strong and stiff, assisting with on-road refinement and all-terrain capability.

∙ New Integral Link rear and MacPherson Hydrobush front suspension enhance ride comfort on the road, while reducing cabin noise and providing a wider luggage space.

∙ A new Adaptive Dynamics system enables precise body control and agile handling.

∙ Terrain Response technology introduced alongside enhanced 23.6-in (600mm) wading capability (translation: you can drive this car through water).

∙ Standard Driveline Disconnect system designed to seamlessly switch between two- and all-wheel drive (which is a great feature).

Additional details and pricing will be announced at the Canadian debut of the new Evoque at the 2019 Montreal Auto Show in February.

2020 Range Rover Evoque

Automotive journalists drove the new Evoque through an obstacle course set up in a former railroad freight terminal in the east end of London. CREDIT: Norris McDonald/Special to the Toronto Star

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