The highlight of the refreshed Evoque range is the adoption of a new ZF 9-speed automatic gearbox with intelligent Stop/Start which helps to reduce fuel consumption by 11.4% and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 9.5%.
Torque Vectoring (variable power distribution by braking to each wheel) is also added as well as a range of new comfort, convenience and connectivity features as well has an extended range of extra cost options and body colours.
The Evoque was introduced just over three years ago in three door Coupe form and the major selling five door models. Both are available with the main selling 148 and 188bhp 2.2-litre four cylinder turbodiesel engine plus a 2.0-litre, four cylinder 238bhp petrol unit which sells in a relatively few numbers in the UK. Some versions are available with two wheel drive but the vast majority are sold as 4x4s. Over 20,000 Evoques were sold in the UK last year making it Land Rover’s best selling model range in this country and globally.
The three-door Evoque Coupe is currently priced from £32,195 to £46,650. The five door Evoque is currently priced from £29,200 to £45,650 but higher spec Autobiography versions have just been showcased at the Geneva Motor Show with prices yet to be confirmed for delivery later this year.
I have just had a Wintery driving spell on roads, in the floods and battling with gale force winds, with the Evoque Prestige five door with the 2.2-litre 188bhp turbodiesel engine and the new 9-speed automatic gearbox priced at £40,005. I also had a brief off road driving opportunity with this model prior to its UK introduction at Land Rovers famous Eastnor Castle development and 4×4 Driving Centre where the new auto box and all the Evoques computer controlled All Terrain off-road technical trickery was fully utilised. Essentially all you need to do in such hazardous circumstances is select Hill Descent control, dial in the off road conditions, grass, gravel, snow, mud/ruts and sand and such like and off you go.
The Evoque probably appeals more to fashionistas than those requiring a 4×4 workhorse who will never use its off roading capabilities. But there is no doubting it is built with the same durable, very capable off road capabilities of the larger Range Rover Sport and Range Rover models. Country folk who venture off-road still seem to favour the very capable, older, less plush and cheaper Land Rover Freelander.
The Evoque competes against the BMW X3 SUV which is the sharper and sportier handling 4×4 for on road driving but cannot match the Evoque’s off road abilities. The Audi Q3 is another competitor, again more polished for on road sports performance, but it doesn’t match the Evoque’s stylish design or come close to its off road driving ability.
Core change to the 2014 model year Range Rover Evoque is the 9-speed automatic gearbox and most owners chose an automatic transmission in this 4×4 sector for driving refinement and convenience. Select the ECO mode and that brings in the stop/start function.
The new transmission offers a wide range of ratios with ultra-fast seamless gearchanges and it has an adaptive shift programme that quickly matches the driving style. The low first gear ratio gives sharp acceleration from standstill quickly followed by smooth changes into second, third and four gears maintaining that acceleration punch. Fifth, sixth and seventh gears give instant changes for fast overtaking before eighth and ninth ratios return to relaxed cruising using low engine rpm for fuel saving. The result is even more refinement with improved fuel economy, reduced CO2 emissions and enhanced performance. Officially in the Combined Cycle the vehicle will return 47.1mpg – an 11.4% improvement, in reality my test drive covering motorways and rural A/B roads the test drive consumption was 39.6mpg. With CO2 emissions reduced by 9.5% the figure of 159g/km means VED road tax results in £175 per annum. Company car drivers will now pay the lower rate of 27% Benefit-in-Kind tax.
Also to be introduced shortly, but only as an option, is what Land Rover calls their Active Driveline which allows the drivetrain to operate in front wheel drive at speeds above 22mph but reconnects the rear wheels in 300 milliseconds whenever extras grip is needed. This function will further improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. The Active Driveline also features Active Torque Biasing with an electric differential which distributes the drive between the rear wheels to optimise traction and stability mainly during high cornering speeds so it should bring the on-road stability performance in the handling department closer to the BMW X3 and Audi Q3 competitors. Standard on the forthcoming Active Driveline option and the current Evoque’s standard four wheel drive system is Torque Vectoring, a feature which improves agility by distributing torque between all four wheels to counteract understeer, again this brings the latest Evoque closer to the premium German brand SUVs in road manners.
More changes for the 2014 model year include options to make the life of the driver even easier including Park Exit to automatically get out of parallel parking bays, Perpendicular Parking to position the car centrally in parking spaces, closing vehicle sensing, reverse traffic detection, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition and wade sensing, ideal on my test drive. They might make driving easier but some of these options can make life financially uncomfortable as the packs range from £700 to the Lux Pack at a massive £4,650 on top of the £40,005 my test Evoque cost in the first place. There are lots more costly options that can be added to the specification as well.
The Prestige version I tried is towards the top of the range but price doesn’t seem to be an issue for UK buyers judging by its sales success, or indeed for other buyers because the Evoque is the brand’s global best selling model. Leather upholstery comes as standard as does its sophisticated drivetrain, a big touch screen which has functions that are a bit slow to use once you have found the mode you want. The heating and ventilation system for instance has to be operated via the screen rather than having quick and easy to see and use controls. Sometimes I think we are taking on-board technology too far away from what is practical and even safe to use given our eyes need to be on the road rather than trying to find the right programme to demist the windscreen.
The five door Evoque is by far more practical than the three door Coupe, hence it sells in far bigger numbers. Both suffer from the lack of rear passenger headroom, legroom and the side/rear glass areas are small so visibility to the rear and rear quarters is not great so in some circumstances the optional driving aids are useful.
The Range Rover Evoque conquers all premium brand compact SUV competitors in terms of its off-road driving performance. The new automatic transmission and associated drivetrain technologies has brought it closer in terms of improved on-road driving manners but at a considerable price which customers seem happy to pay.
MILESTONES. Range Rover Evoque 2.2 SD4 Prestige Auto 5-Door. Price: £40,005 + options (£49,659 total). Engine/transmission: 2.2-litre, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel, 188bhp, 309lb ft of torque from 1,750rpm, 9-speed automatic, 4WD. Performance: 121mph, 0-60mph 8.5 seconds, 47.1mpg Combined Cycle (39.6mpg on test), CO2 159g/km, VED road tax £175, BIK company car tax 27%. Insurance group: 34. Warranty: 3-years/unlimited mileage. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,355mm, W 1,985mm, H 1,635mm, boot/load space 575 to 1,445-litres, wading depth 500mm, braked towing weight 1,800kg. For: Desirability, fashionable, supreme off road performance, refined new 9-speed auto gearbox, luxury interior, improved on-road driving manners in good and bad conditions. Against: Expensive – even more so with options, not as practical for interior space as its premium brand rivals, restricted rear-side visibility, fiddly and slow to use info touch-screen system, BMW X3 has sharper on-road handling refinement. Miles better news agency