The original Range Rover Evoque is something of a success story for the British marque, as it introduced a new raft of young and trendy customers to the brand, while simultaneously ushering in a new design direction.
As a result, it picked up a staggering 217 global awards and sold in excess of 770,000 units worldwide.
Did you also know that 70 per cent of owners don’t have children and 50 per cent own a wearable device? We didn’t, but it just goes to show how super trendy, design-focused and apparently hip its buyers are.
This goes some way to explain the subtle exterior updates – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – and the raft of new technology, interior fabrics and cutting-edge design touches lavished on the upcoming model.
But this is more than just a styling refresh, as the new model shares only its door hinges with its predecessor.
A spanking new architecture, revised suspension system and greatly improved noise, vibration and harshness were just a few notable topics up for discussion at the brand’s glitzy global unveiling, which also afforded us the opportunity to jump behind the wheel.
A dive in the pool
Keen to show off the new Evoque’s off-road ability, the Range Rover team had created a sort of off-road gymkhana underneath some glamorously gritty railway arches in the east end of London.
Ramps, railways, ludicrous lean angles and a swimming pool were installed to highlight the capabilities of Range Rover’s Terrain Response 2 technology, which can be found in the latest Land Rover Discovery and monitors driving conditions to automatically select the best driving mode for each use case.
With the neat floating rotary dial (a feature found in Velar and Jaguar I-Pace) left in its automatic mode, the new Evoque happily cruised around the slippery course, constantly applying torque to the wheels that required it.
An improved wading depth of 600mm (up from 500mm in the previous model) was also called upon when we were instructed to dunk the baby Rangie into a swimming pool and drive our way out.
Totally unfazed is probably the best way to describe the manner in which new Evoque handled the short course and although it didn’t offer much opportunity to sample its on-road characteristics, it did reveal a more mature proposition.
For example, the MacPherson strut front suspension now features Hydrobushes for improved damping, while the rear suspension is based on the Velar’s Integral Link set-up for a smoother ride and more space in the boot.
Couple this with some clever new packaging and it results in 20mm extra legroom for rear passengers, a larger boot and more spacious cubbyholes throughout the cabin. Although the rear still feels a little squashed.
Tricked out with tech
Arguably one of the biggest talking points around the 2019 Range Rover Evoque is its interior. Not simply because its appearance and finish are more akin to big brother Range Rover products, but because it also boasts some “world first” technologies.
The ClearSight rear-view mirror, for example, takes a feed from a rear-facing 1.7-megapixel HDR camera mounted to the roof and projects it onto a screen that overlays the mirror’s glass.
To activate it, simply flick a little toggle (much like the anti-dazzle switch found on many modern mirrors) and the HD video screen is called into action.
It means drivers get an unobstructed view out of the back, should the field of vision become blocked by bulky items or a passenger’s extra large noggin, while the wide angle allows a bit of extra visibility.
Some might question its usefulness, but we found it worked extremely well in low-light conditions, where looking out of the rear-view mirror to spot obstacles is often fruitless.
Another addition to the ClearSight suite is the excellent Ground View Technology, which takes a video feed from cameras placed in the door mirrors and front grille and then projects this onto the infotainment screen.
Those with long memories will likely recall the “Transparent Bonnet” technology debuted on the Land Rover Discovery back in 2014 and in essence, this is that vision realised.
By taking a static image of the ground ahead and effectively ‘sliding’ it underneath the car as it passes the terrain, users get an unobstructed view of terra firma and can then make driving adjustments to avoid boulders or irritatingly high kerbs in towns and cities.
At the heart of these technological firsts is the marque’s latest Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, which consists of two pin sharp touchscreens and is faster than ever before thanks to improved processing power.
The uppermost controls radio, maps and entertainment, while the lower portion takes car of heating and vehicle settings.
Throw in the TFT screen that replaces the instrument binnacles and you’re faced with one display-tastic interior that’s just begging to be prodded and poked by grubby fingers.
The launch range includes a typical mix of diesel and petrol engines but the majority of these now come fitted with a mild hybrid system, meaning a 48V lithium-ion battery delivers power to a small synchronous reluctance motor that assists the combustion engine.
It means owners now get more out of a tank, with official MPG figures ranging from 30.3 to 44.9mpg on the tougher WLTP tests.
Again, the short loop we enjoyed didn’t give a great impression of performance but the cars were certainly quiet and engines refined under acceleration. The only real noise we could hear came from the regenerative braking system, which let out a strange soundtrack when brushed on a steep descent.
Those already converted to electricity will be pleased to hear new Evoque will be offered in a distinctly plug-in flavour next year, with a 108PS 80kW motor paired with a three-cylinder petrol engine and more powerful 11.3kWh battery pack.
Details on that exact vehicle are scarce, but it’s likely it will borrow technology from the big Range Rover P400e model, which manages a claimed 30-miles of all-electric motoring (although the big brute offers more like 15 in reality).
This electrification of the range is supported by a more sustainable approach to both production and interior fabrics, with a focus on a Kvadrat wool blends, Miko Dinamica suedecloth and a premium material made from eucalyptus plants as an alternative to leather.
Land Rover also claims new Evoque contains 33kg of natural or recyclable plant-based materials, while its production plant now runs on 100 per cent renewable electricity.
Stylish, slick and packed with cutting-edge tech, the upcoming Evoque neatly picks up where the previous model left off, irons out the kinks and drags it into the modern era.
We’ll be bringing you more on the new Range Rover Evoque when we get the chance to get out out on some proper roads.