You may not realize it
, but the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque has been around for a sneaky long time.
Since 2011, when the first gen model, also known as the L538, went on sale as a 2012 model. It didn’t change much in seven years, although it did receive some content and packaging updates for the 2014 model year.
Despite the passage of time, the first Evoque has aged well. The outgoing car didn’t feel like it was seven years old, even by early 2019 when the last copies of the previous model were disappearing from dealer lots.
But seven years is an eternity in the automotive world, so it was time for the subcompact Land Rover to move into its second generation.
For those unaware, the Evoque was designed to help meet the growing demand for small and mid-size crossovers, particularly in North America where it was positioned as the entry level model in the Land Rover line up.
Stylish, reasonably priced, yet also highly capable, the first Evoque was built on a modified Land Rover LR2 platform and was originally offered in five-door and three-door ‘coupe’ versions, followed by a convertible in 2017.
Diesel variants were sold in Europe, but North American models were powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder gas engine (240 hp / 251 lb-ft.) paired with a 6-speed automatic and standard all-wheel drive. The 6-speed autobox was replaced with a 9-speed ZF-sourced unit in 2014.
During its lifespan the first-gen Evoque sold well. It surpassed 125,000 units in 2014, which at the time accounted for more than one third of Land Rover’s global sales. By the time production ended in 2018, more than 772,000 had been sold worldwide. Big shoes for the second-gen model to fill, indeed.
Like the L538, the new L551 Evoque is built at Jaguar Land Rover’s Halewood Assembly plant in northern England, but unlike its predecessor, it shares a platform with other newer JLR products, namely the Land Rover Discovery Sport, Range Rover Velar and Jaguar E-Pace.
The production model was revealed last November in London and went on sale earlier this year. From a size standpoint, the L551’s footprint is almost identical to that of its predecessor, yet it has more room thanks to a longer wheelbase that yields an extra 21 mm of rear seat knee room. The new Evoque also has a larger glove box and centre console storage area, along with six percent more luggage space (610 litres). Combined interior space has grown by a whopping 1,530 litres.
Built on Land Rover’s new Premium Transverse Architecture, the Evoque is designed to support future electrification and features an available 48-volt mild hybrid system that captures stored braking energy and redeploys it to assist the engine with acceleration.
On the design front, the Evoque employs a modernist design philosophy that brings it in line with other Land Rover products of late, the Range Rover Velar
and Range Rover
Mechanically, a 2.0-litre turbocharged Ingenium gas engine (246 hp / 269 lb-ft.) powers the base Evoque (P250), while R-Dynamic models (P300) have the same engine but with more output (296 hp / 295 lb-ft.). A First Edition model (P250) is also available with the base model performance profile. All Evoques are offered with a ZF-sourced 9-speed automatic and standard all-wheel drive.
Because the Evoque is a Land Rover, the Evoque comes fully equipped with a suite of drive modes designed to tackle off-road conditions. Those familiar with Land Rover will recognize these five – normal, eco, sand, grass-gravel-snow, and mud & ruts. Ground clearance is 212 mm (8.3 inches), with departure angles of 25 degrees in front and 30.6 in the rear. Maximum wading depth has been increased to 600 mm (23.6 inches).
A significant innovation worth mentioning is the ClearSight Ground View system which, thanks to cameras mounted into the front grille and side mirrors, projects a view of the ground underneath the car onto the top navigation (map) screen to improve traversal through tight spaces or over obstacles.
For the purposes of this review, JLR Canada set me up with a P300 HSE tester finished in Firenze Red ($800 paint option). As is the custom with most press vehicles I drive, this one is loaded with extras including Head-Up Display ($1,000), Panoramic glass roof ($1,300), 16-way massaging front seats ($1,300) and 20-inch black alloy wheels ($500), among other features. In all, my tester carries $9,700 worth of options that brings the price before freight and taxes to just past $71,000.
More Evolution that Revolution – mostly
I’ll say this for the Evoque’s looks – they are a testament to not fixing what wasn’t broken. The outgoing car was a handsome utility that sold well, and JLR designers were wise not to mess too much with a winning formula.
Therefore, the new Evoque looks more like design evolution than revolution. The front end is slipperier and more rakish with sleek, slim-notch LED headlights, and a small, backward-leaning black grille that is reminiscent of other Land Rover products, as mentioned previously. The beltline still sweeps up towards the rear of the car, and the back end still has small windows and a large plastic diffuser below the tailgate.
If the exterior of the Evoque looks familiar, the interior is where change is more noticeable. When I first sat in the Evoque, my eyes went immediately to the two 10-inch digital touchscreens that dominate the centre stack.
These screens govern the map (top) and a host of other features, including drive mode settings, climate functions and more (bottom). Simply put, these screens are beautiful to look at, are generally fast-responding, and easy to use. The top screen is motorized and tilts toward the driver at start-up and sinks back into the dash when the car is shut off. Brilliant.
Elsewhere, my test vehicle is finished in sumptuous leather (seating, steering wheel, shift knob, dash panels) and a mix of glossy plastics and brushed metallic accents (centre console, door skins) that look great and are pleasing to interact with. The two-tone red-black colour scheme gives the Evoque an extra air of sophistication that a monochromatic (i.e. black) treatment lacks. Generally, the Evoque’s interior is spacious, comfortable and well-finished, whether one opts for the piles of extras my tester has or not. The 12.3-inch digital cockpit display also deserves mention for relaying information in a clear and attractive fashion without veering too far into gimmickry.
On the road
The Evoque is an SUV, so performance really isn’t its game. However, my tester proved to be reasonably athletic within the confines of its configuration. Acceleration from rest is good in normal mode and quite impressive in sport. Peak horsepower is high in the powerband (5,500 rpm), but peak torque is not – it starts at just 1,500 rpm and it helps to scoot the Evoque along with impressive haste.
Land Rover’s official 0-100 km/h time is 6.6 seconds, and while I didn’t independently verify that claim myself, the Evoque feels quick. A sport mode setting bumps the revs and delays upshifts from the 9-speed and, if so inclined, one can make use of the steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters.
As far as ride quality is concerned, on pavement the Evoque offers a composed, comfortable and quiet ride. I didn’t take my tester through any closed course testing, but it handled normal driving situations on public roads with ease. I didn’t do any off-roading this time around either, although I have done so with the previous Evoque and it is very much a Land Rover. I expect nothing less from this second-gen model.
The Evoque was a comfortable, capable crossover stylishly packaged for a fair price when it debuted in 2011, and it remains so today.
The second-gen model builds on the success of its predecessor with more power, an updated aesthetic and technological advancements, but the core appeal of the Evoque remains. I find myself struggling to pick out things I don’t like, because honestly there isn’t much.
The design update has erased some of its unique character to the point that it looks a lot like other Land Rover models, but whether that matters or not depends on how one feels about the brand’s styling. I like it, but I concede there is a samey-ness with a lot of Land Rovers these days, Evoque included.
I should also point out that the Evoque gets expensive fast when one checks a bunch of option boxes, but the same could be said of a lot of cars these days. Show a bit of restraint and the value proposition becomes more attractive. In that context, the Evoque is hard to beat.