What is it?
Why I would buy it?
Style statement, overall performance, true off-road heritage
Why I would avoid it?
Firm low-speed ride, rear seat comfort
What is it?
My last stint with the previous-gen Evoque is still fresh in my mind. Very few SUVs packed such stunning road presence and aura at that time. A magnet, so to speak. Come 2020, and the new Range Rover Evoque has made a comeback with a design that's gracefully evolved from the earlier one.
It's now underpinned by the new Premium Transverse Architecture, has BS6 petrol and diesel engine options, updated interiors with new features, and a whole bunch of expectations to live up to. At least the looks seem covered.
The charm of the original has been carried forward with comprehensive updates to the sheet metal to make it more salivating. Whether it is the large wheels, distinctive roofline, or the aggressively raked window-line, they all make for a sensational stance. I just love the aggressive concoction of power and ruggedness, whatever angle this SUV is viewed from.
How is it on the inside?
When seated in the new Evoque, your attention is grabbed by the impressive layered-dash that’s placed quite high up. It's crafted with generous use of soft-touch materials, brushed-aluminium inserts and a piano-black trim. And, as with all their cars, this one too gets a large chunky steering. However, the instrumentation dials would have been more appealing had they been larger. We’d also like to point out that the glass area is extremely compact, and the rear windscreen is just ridiculously tiny.
Taking up prime position on the centre console is a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system with six speakers. Not only is it hi-res, there’s attractive graphics, swift frame rates, and the touch panel is responsive too. Lest we forget, your favourite track played off your phone’s Android Auto or Apple CarPlay app should be nothing short of engaging. Below this, is a panel with a neat array of physical and touch buttons, along with rotary controls for the air-con and other vitals of the Evoque.
Storage up front is taken care of by the twin-lid central armrest, the cup holders ahead of it and the spacious door-pads. At the rear, there’s the door-pads again, two seat-back pockets and the centre armrest that drops down to offer two cup holders. As for the seats, the front ones have adequate padding, are firm and there's good shoulder and lateral support. Nevertheless, thigh support could have been better.
At the rear, there’s good thigh support and knee room for two. But, the bench itself is placed low to allow for more headroom. This, combined with the slightly upright backrest posture, doesn’t make for a comfortable seating position. Besides that, accommodating a middle passenger will be an uncomfortable affair due to the protruding cushioning, and the lack of foot space thanks to the transmission tunnel.
The Evoque’s boot is a relatively square enclosure that can easily swallow two medium-sized suitcases and two large duffel bags. The one in the pictures is the base ‘S’ trim, and there’s also a top-end ‘R-Dynamic SE’ version. Safety equipment include a slew of airbags, an intrusion sensor, roll stability control, electronic traction control, torque vectoring by braking, ABS and ‘Terrain Response 2’. The ‘S’ also gets the flush door-handles, a fixed panorama sunroof, powered tail gate, LED headlamps with DRLs, tyre pressure monitoring, 360-degree parking aid and a two-zone climate control to name some.
How is it to drive?
The new Range Rover Evoque gets either the 245bhp/365Nm two-litre petrol motor, or the two-litre 177bhp/430Nm diesel, like what we have here. Both versions are mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Regardless of whether it is in idle or you’re pottering around in part-throttle mode, there’s not much buzz as the NVH is very well subdued.
In fact, the only time you’ll ever hear the motor over the music-player is when you’re revving in Sport mode. The insulation is so good, that it also masks the feeling of speed exceedingly well. However, we weren’t particularly fond of the vibration this engine kicks up when it cranks by itself in auto on/off mode.
As soon as I got going, I began to appreciate the uninterrupted and linear power delivery of this diesel motor. We have to admit that the well spaced-out gears in this nine-speeder makes excellent utilization of the motor’s output. In normal Eco and Comfort modes, this diesel builds up pace without a fuss, and there’s always more at hand; be it a relaxed commute or a swift dash.
Eco mode has a noticeable relaxed-tinge to the power delivery, and it's obvious that this is in the interests of fuel efficiency. Upshifts are swift so as to keep the revs in the optimum rev-range. On the other hand, Comfort mode offers quicker responses which make commuting or highway travelling a breeze.
Sport mode is more for the ‘dil-mange-more’ types, but as presumed, the power delivery is not linear and there’s a considerable tug at about 1800rpm. At higher speeds though, this gearbox isn’t quick to downshift when you depress the throttle for a quick overtake (even in Sport). So, its best to just use the paddle shifters to get straight to the meaty portion of the power band.
The Evoque’s ride quality tilts to being firm at slow speeds, with a soft edge to it over our patched-up roads. This can transition quickly to a bumpy ride over sharper bumps. Although this SUV rides flat once you go faster, you just can’t run away from the noticeable road, tyre and suspension noise. There’s also a tendency for it to nose dive under severe braking. The thing is, none of these attributes are deal breakers.
As for the steering, it is seriously quick with just two and one-quarter turns (lock-to-lock). What’s more, it has an extremely progressive response that allows you to modulate the steering on the go thanks to the enormous feedback. With this, and the superior grip from the tyres, going fast around bends isn’t a concern in spite of the fair amount of roll. The only downer is that the steering has a little more-than-necessary slack off the dead centre.
Should I buy one?
Let’s look at what doesn’t work for the new Evoque. There’s the slightly uncomfortable rear seating, a firm low-speed ride with audible suspension noise and the slightly lazy gearbox. But, honestly speaking, one can’t really put off a buying decision based on these. More-so, because the new Range Rover Evoque delivers on making a style statement and looks thoroughly extravagant. Then, there’s the abundance of safety and new-age features, combined with a relatively potent motor; all for Rs 66.39 lakh on-road Mumbai. I mean, need we really say any more?
Where does it fit in?
Pictures: Kapil Angane