Why mess with a good thing when you have a winner on your hands? Land Rover sold around 800,000 units of the first generation Evoque globally, so there are high expectations for a solid successor. The new Evoque retained a familiar overall look to the outgoing model, and that’s a good thing. Additionally, as expected, there are loads of enhancements inside and out, packing a new selection of technology to once again redefine the luxury crossover sector.
The styling of the 2020 Evoque is a little controversial. Upon first glance, in fact, it takes a keen eye to spot the visible changes to the body that are heavily reminiscent of its much older brother, the Velar. Land Rover didn’t want to muddle with the bold and angular styling of the previous car. All the familiar details are there for you to feast your eyes on.
Despite having an instantly recognizable fascia, the new Evoque is incrementally bigger, taller, and wider. While the size increase may appear to be run-of-the-mill, every little bit went towards increasing legroom for the rear passengers. Admittedly, the rear isn’t spacious as one might expect from the Land Rover’s larger offerings, but at the same time, it’s not a terrible place to be in either.
Being 1.83m, I’d be lying if I told you it made a big difference for me. The new Evoque still offers less rear room than the likes of the Volvo XC40 and BMW X1. But this isn’t a big hinderance if you consider the target market of the new crossover: wealthy millennials and empty nesters. So, instead of giving the new Evoque the interior space of a larger SUV, Land Rover favoured to improve boot space over rear seat legroom. Cargo space has grown marginally and is roomy enough to accommodate a full day’s worth of shopping and moving things around.
As we expected from the luxury crossover, the interior of the 2020 Evoque is strongly inspired of the finest styling in the Range Rover Velar. There are two touchscreens in the centre console, handling both infotainment and the climate control system. The only physical buttons are a pair of controller wheels and a volume knob in the lower screen. Other than those, the dashboard and console are clean as a whistle. For the first time in a Jaguar-Land Rover vehicle, Apple Car Play is now standard. You can also choose plant-derived fabrics, premium quilted leather, and synthetic material made from recycled plastic bottles for the various materials in the interior. All in all, you are never denied the feeling of luxury as you sit inside the new Evoque.
Also making its introduction in the Evoque is the ClearSight Ground View system. This “X-ray vision” allows you to see the ground right in front of the vehicle, as though you can see through a transparent hood. Although billed as essential in off-road scenarios, it’s also great in avoiding nasty curbs as you park. The system is not powered by magic or unicorns. Instead, the new Evoque is armed with cameras in the front grille and door mirrors, with software combining them to create a clear perspective of the road underneath.
The new Evoque also comes with a 1.7-megapixel rear camera for the ClearSight Rear View system. This allows the rear view mirror to display a video feed of all the things happening in the back of the car. Considering the poor visibility courtesy of the sloping roofline and smaller rear windows, this new feature is a Godsend.
Driving the new Evoque is mostly a comfortable and smooth experience. The previous model was also comfortable and sporty, but it lacked the refinement Land Rover has rang in this time around. Gone are the rattles and squeaks in the interior, one of the few grievances with the previous-generation car. The old model also suffered from a slow transmission, its box having a tendency to hunt for gears, which is irritating in city traffic. The new Evoque is much more refined, closer indeed to siblings like the Velar and the Range Rover Sport.
The new Evoque is not short in sportiness if that’s more your thing. You can expect the Evoque to feel more grown up and well-mannered than the old car, and that’s a good thing for a compact luxury SUV.
Unfortunately, the mild-hybrid system wasn’t available on this drive but I’d imagine that it’s expected to operate seamlessly in the background. Until I get a chance to drive it myself, my only insight is from my experience in other vehicles with similar systems: I’m expecting the mild-hybrid Evoque to get a much-needed kick when accelerating from a full stop. It probably won’t accelerate like a Mercedes-Benz EQC. The new car feels fresh on the inside, but the cabin still feels a bit tight for taller occupants such as myself.
Modest practicality is not a strong attribute of small luxury crossovers, of course, because it doesn’t have to be. If you need more room to wiggle around, you are looking at the wrong type of car.
To be quite honest, I don’t mind losing some cargo room in exchange for more sporty and agile handling. In this regard, the new Range Rover Evoque is on top of the charts. This vehicle is proof that you don’t need stiff suspension to achieve rewarding on-road feel, and it also demonstrates how the right blend of tautness can achieve sharper handling with a comfortable ride.
We had the opportunity to test its off-road capabilities – and yes, I can confirm that it’ll hold it’s own against the competitors in the segment. Might I add that it does a fine job for a luxury SUV. Keeping your expectation in check, it’s not as capable as the Discovery Sport or Range Rover in the boonies, but it won’t back down from gravel or shallow river crossings, either.
The Terrain Response 2 system and a new all-wheel-drive system with a locking center differential are more than capable of motivating the new Evoque over challenging off-road conditions. You may not take it out there often, but it’s important to know that you could.
Overall, the 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque starts at R734 300 for the D180, while the P250 starts at R776 300. That’s not exactly cheap for a relatively small and compact CUV. Still, no other small luxury crossover offers the badge prestige, styling, versatility, and off-road capability that the new Evoque brings.