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Driven: New-gen Range Rover Evoque lands

Range Rover Evoque fires starting pistol on a new-model burst for Land Rover

30 May 2019

THE launch of the all-new Range Rover Evoque in Australia this week lights the blue touch paper on a rejuvenation of the Land Rover line-up in Australia over the next nine months.


The Evoque will be followed into showrooms by a facelifted Land Rover Discovery Sport about October, revised Range Rover flagship in the New Year and – cue the trumpets – new-generation Land Rover Defender workhorse sometime in the first quarter of 2020.


With sales down 16.8 per cent in Australia this year, the British brand is hoping the new-model rush will engage more buyers, starting with the Evoque that Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) Australia says has garnered 2000 expressions of interest from prospective buyers, many of them current owners of the 17,000 first-generation Evoques sold in Australia since it was launched locally in 2011.


As before, JLR Australia expects it ssmallest Range Rover SUV to appeal largely to young (30-40) urban types with a slight skew towards women (53/47).


As reported, the new Evoque sits on Land Rover’s new Transverse Premium Architecture that – as the name suggests – has a space-saving ‘east-west’ engine layout that, along with a 20mm longer wheelbase, delivers more rear legroom (+20mm) and larger cargo hold.


This platform is also 13 per cent stiffer, delivering a quieter, smoother ride while maintaining roughly the same overall size as the outgoing model that competes against mid-size luxury SUV, such asMercedes-Benz’s GLC, BMW’s X3, Volvo’s XC60 and Audi’s Q5.


Styling wise, the new Evoque is smoother and more refined inside and out for an evolutional improvement, but it retains the low-roof look that set the original Evoque apart from the pack.


The new Evoque marks the debut of 48-volt mild-hybrid powertrains which, from launch in Australia will have a choice of six 2.0-litre turbocharged engines – three diesel and three petrol – all of which are hooked up to a nine-speed automatic transmission and a multi-mode all-wheel-drive system.


A three-cylinder plug-in hybrid powertrain is also in the works but will not land in Australia until the middle of next year.


The company says it has no plans for a full-electric Evoque, although they would not categorically rule it out.


For now, mild hybrid is it, with all of the diesels and the top-most petrol engine getting the belt-driven starter-generator that assists take-off from the traffic lights, for example, when turbo lag is usually most noticeable.


Powered by a lithium-ion battery that is recharged by regenerative braking, the starter-generation also fires up the engine in stop-start driving and helps to cut fuel consumption by a claimed five per cent.


Unlike some other integrated mild-hybrid systems, the Evoque’s belt-system does not increase peak power, operating only at low speeds.


The three diesels are all four-cylinder units, coming in 110kW/380Nm (D150), 132kW/430Nm (D180) and 177kW/500Nm (D240) states of tune.


Claimed fuel economy on the combined test for these is 5.7 litres per 100km, 5.8L/100km and 6.3L/100km respectively.


The base petrol engine is the 147kW/320Nm P200, rising to the 183kW/365Nm P250 and topping out at the 221kW/400Nm P300.


Fuel economy for these petrol engines starts at 8.1L/100km for both the base and middling engines and 8.2L/100km for the most potent unit.


When combining these engines with three standard specifications – S, SE and HSE – Land Rover is offering 12 mainstream variants at launch.


But throw in two special launch editions – one petrol and one diesel – and R-Dynamic dress-up packs across the range, the Evoque comes in a bewildering 26 flavours.


Of course, that is before you add eight extra-cost packs, 12 paint colours and hundreds of options for the Evoque owner to personalise their vehicle.


Pricing for the standard range starts at $62,670 plus on-road costs for the Evoque S P200 with the base petrol engine and rises to $90,420 for the flagship HSE D240.


Add the R-Dynamics kit for extras such sportier body bits and the price rises to $67,610 for the base S P200 and to $94,290 for the HSE D240. Others in the range increase by similar increments.


The Evoque breaks new ground in the number of areas, including a world-first forward vision technology called Clear-Sight Ground View that uses a camera to beam images of the ground immediately in front of the vehicle onto the 10.2-inch touchscreen.


Land Rover describes this system the “invisible bonnet”, saying it not only helps drivers to negotiate tricky off-road situations but also the urban jungle when high kerbs or similar obstacles can play havoc with one’s fascia.


The electronic view even includes a virtual view of the front wheels so the driver can more accurately pinpoint obstacles.


Another nifty addition is a rearview mirror that turns into a video screen at the flick of a switch to show the rear view if, for example, a big cargo load in the back is obscuring the view.


One of the more obvious changes in the cabin is the switch from the rotary transmission selector to a conventional gear selector that is more intuitive.


The Evoque becomes the latest Range Rover to get the Terrain Response 2 system that automatically sets drive modes according to conditions. These modes – for mud and rut, sand etcetera – can also be set manually.


No low-range transfer case is available, but with nine transmission speeds and multiple modes, Land Rover says the Evoque upholds the Range Rover off-road standards.


The water wading depth has been increased by 100mm, to 600mm, while the ride height goes up 1mm, to 212mm.


Another gain for Evoque is a multi-link rear suspension that not only improves ride and handling but is also more compact, allowing designers to widen the cargo area by 20mm – enough to fit a golf bag this time around.


Cargo capacity goes up 16 litres, to 591 litres, but with the 40/20/40 split-fold seats stowed, capacity has declined 62L, to 1383L.


MacPherson struts control the front wheels, but like the rear dampers, get adaptive assistance for optimised ride.


Land Rover has responded to the growing legion of buyers who don’t want “dead cow” (leather) in their cars by adding a no-cost “vegan” option for the interior trim. This uses fabrics and finishes made from a combination of recycle plastic bottles and wool on upholstery, dash and door trims.


Apart from the large touchscreen that electrically tilts up out of the dash in SE and HSE specifications (the screen is fixed in the S unless the buyer pays for the optional Pro screen), the Evoque features a large lower screen where the console meets the dash for a host of functions, including driving modes and climate controls.


The instrument panel is also now totally digital, with analogue-style round dials for the speedo and tacho, split by a screen that shows driving information such as sat-nav instructions and fuel consumption figures.


Safety-wise, the Evoque has just been award a five-star rating by ANCAP. Standard safety tech includes autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition and driver condition monitor.


Up-spec variants gain extras such as blind-spot warning, adaptive cruise control, clear exit monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and surround-view cameras.


So far this year, Land Rover Australia has sold 438 Evoques in its run-out-phase, putting it 14.8 per cent behind its sales rate of last year.


That places Evoque ninth in its category that is led by the Mercedes GLC (1680), BMW X3 (1673), Audi Q5 (1182) and Volvo XC60 (1065).


2019 Range Rover pricing*

S D150 (a) $64,650
S D180 (a) $67,040
S P200 (a) $62,670
S P250 (a) $68,840
SE D150 (a) $70,580
SE D180 (a) $72,980
SE D240 (a) $83,190
SE P200 (a) $68,610
SE P300 (a) $82,620
HSE D240 (a) $90,420
HSE P300 (a) $89,850
First Edition D180 (a) $91,550
First Edition P250 (a) $91,300

*Excludes on-road costs

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