A mid-life update for Land Rover’s biggest seller introduces a new engine, sexier styling and even greater individuality.
WHAT IS IT?
The Ingenium refresh for Range Rover Evoque, bringing an all-new, in-house diesel with much-improved refinement over the old Ford/PSA unit, along with a reshuffled model line-up.
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT?
Given the new Ingenium turbo-diesel’s excellent work in Jaguar’s athletic XE, we’ve been champing at the bit to see just how much difference it would make to the Evoque (and its Discovery Sport sibling). Given that the laggy, gravelly old diesel was arguably the Evoque’s weakest link, “all-new” is guaranteed to mean “better”.
Audi Q5, BMW X4, Infiniti QX70, Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Porsche Macan, as well as Land Rover’s own Discovery Sport if you’re tossing up between a bit more style and a bit more space.
THE WHEELS VERDICT
If you head to the top of range, with all the attendant bells and whistles, the MY16 Evoque has a striking presence to match its fashionable trim and improved connectivity, not to mention an impressive new diesel engine. Considering its 2011 vintage, the handsome Evoque is maturing nicely, and can only improve further when the all-new Ingenium petrol comes on stream late this year.
PLUS: Handsome and alluringly customisable; strong and refined new diesel; impressive ride quality, even on 20-inch wheels
MINUS: Ageing turbo-petrol’s driveability flaws and lack of a manual ’box; smallish boot; slightly claustrophobic rear seat; fiddly transmission dial; over-eager ESC
THE WHEELS REVIEW
THE POMS’ brand divergence is definitely working. While some feared that the soft-roading Evoque might erode the reputation of Land Rover’s imperious Range Rover line as masters of high-riding, high-fashion 4WDs, the result has been the exact opposite. In much the same way as the Boxster and Cayman are the perfect complement to Porsche’s iconic 911, the Evoque’s role as a fashionable foil for the more uncompromising Rangie and Rangie Sport is unquestioned.
For 2016, the Evoque has been treated to its most comprehensive makeover since its 2011 launch. Fresh and techy new lighting signatures, new-gen multimedia, lusher trims and tastier colours garnish the MY16, which has also had its model line-up reshuffled for greater commonality with other Range Rovers.
The front-drive, $51,995, Pure eD4 remains the sole Evoque without all-wheel drive (as a 5dr-only, manual-only, starter with a 110kW/380Nm Ingenium diesel). The SE (replacing Pure Tech) is available in Td4 150 (110kW/380Nm) and Td4 180 (132kW/430Nm) turbo-diesel tunes, while the HSE (replacing Prestige) and new HSE Dynamic range-topper offer only the Td4 180 engine.
The HSE trim lines are also the only variants offered on the 3dr ‘coupe’, while the carry-over 177kW/340Nm turbo-petrol Si4 engine is offered across SE, HSE and HSE Dynamic models, solely with a nine-speed auto.
We drove a pair of five-doors – an SE Td4 180 ($66,495), and a hot-looking red HSE Dynamic Si4 ($80,605) sporting optional Adaptive Dynamics suspension ($1850) and a Black Design Pack ($4650) with 20-inch alloys and a sinister black-out treatment.
With the MY16’s striking full-LED headlamps and shapely running lights, the HSE Dynamic really steps up its game as a tantalising Evoque flagship. As an SUV for young, affluent hipsters with a penchant for driving fun and fashion, the HSE Dynamic nails the brief better than any Evoque ever has, and does a terrific job combining guard-filling wheels with really robust damping that absorbs big hits effortlessly.
What doesn’t gel quite so harmoniously is the Ford-derived 177kW turbo-petrol and nine-speed auto combo. The engine has plenty of spirit and speed on the move, but it can be quite laggy off the line, followed by front-tyre wheelspin before drive gets channelled to the rear. And yet much of the time, it’s a bit too eager and seems incapable of channelling a torquey chill-factor. Too much throttle here, too many gear changes there, and not enough progression in its response. A neat-shifting manual would improve it immensely, but not for us, sadly.
Far more cohesive, and much more pleasant to sit behind, is the new Ingenium diesel. There’s still a bit of lag from standstill, but the diesel is easily strong enough to surge off the line in second gear. It will pull from as low as 1250rpm without gasping for boost, then briskly spins to 4400rpm before smoothly shuffling through its vast ratio set. Land Rover boasts a combined fuel number of 5.1L/100km, which is hugely impressive, though not quite as amazing as the front-drive manual’s 4.3L/100km, or the Ingenium diesel’s incredible two-year/34,000km recommended service intervals.
While the 18-inch wheeled SE 180 diesel lacks the HSE Dynamic’s visual sizzle (and optional adaptive dampers), it’s still capable of considerable dynamic reward. Quick steering, neat balance and a decent ride aid its agility, though unless you disable it, the Evoque’s stability-control system is a bit too keen on quelling momentum. At least the ‘Adaptive Dynamics’ suspension has switchable modes for greater leeway, though only if you go for a pricey HSE variant (starting at $73,495). Land Rover doesn’t offer the trick suspension on Evoques with 17- or 18-inch wheels.
Yet for all its airs and graces, there’s still something refreshingly egalitarian about the MY16 Evoque. At base level, you get a surprising amount of car and equipment for the money, while for those willing to spend quite a bit more, no other SUV this side of a Porsche Macan can match the Evoque’s everlasting style and class.
Model: Range Rover Evoque HSE Dynamic Td4 180
Engine: 1999cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo-diesel
Max power: 132kW @ 4000rpm
Max torque: 430Nm @ 1750rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
0-100km/h: 9.0sec (claimed)
Fuel economy: 5.1L/100km
On sale: Now