Ten years ago, the Evoque answered a question no one thought of asking: what happens if youtook the utility out of “Sports Utility Vehicle?” The falloutsaw the creation and subsequent mushrooming of a new segment. Players include all of the German luxury brands, each offering their own interpretation of what a small, stylish SUV should be.
This, the sequel to the original city-SUV, will be hugely important to the company. In the face of a global slowdown in sales, accentuated by waning demand in China, Land Rover desperately need a win. But the Evoquefinds itself up against a slew of new rivals. And it’s not just the newly-created competition, but internally too. The Land Rover range has been extended to the point in which many observers see multiple models fulfilling the same role. For Sri Lanka, largely due to tax considerations, the Evoque is priced similarly to their own Velar, and Discovery Sport.
On Land Rover’s part, they’re clear with who the new Evoque is targeted at. Gone are the emblazoned claims of the Evoque’s off-road ability. In comes positioning as a car for the city. As such, the Evoque’s external dimensions remain largely the same as the original – ideal for navigating tight alleys and multi-storey car parks. Dive a little deeper and you’ll find the Evoque is still fairly capable off-road. It has AWD, terrain-response, hill-decent control and can be outfitted with ultra-sonic depth sensors for water wading. But this is a segment dominated by style; something that, when first launched, the Evoque was lauded for.
The silhouette of the original has been carried over. The broad strokes are roughly the same, but the chunky details have been smoothed over. There’s a subtle gravitation towards the cleaner elements that were introduced with the Velar. And, like the Velar, you now get the choice of an R-Dynamic design pack which adds fake vents and aggressive bumpers. And, due to waning demand, there’s no longer a 3-door, nor a convertible either.
For now, the Evoqueis offered with just one engine: a two-litre four-cylinder petrol mild-hybrid. It comes in three states of tune, with the model designation denoting power. P200, P250 and P300 have the corresponding amounts of horsepower. Being a mild-hybrid, the Evoque is never really an EV. Rather, the engine is shut down when coming to a stop, and the electric motor aids acceleration. The real headliner for Sri Lanka will be the import-tax-friendly 1.5 litre full hybrid. The full-on hybrids were slated for launch later in 2020, although with the current standstill mandated by the Coronavirus, that’s likely to be pushed back
Inside the Evoque, the centre console is predominantly made of screen. Glossy and glary, there are very few physical buttons – the three screens are the main way to interact with the various options and functions. The layout looks less futuristic now than what it did when it was introduced on the Velar. The interior remains a nice place to be, with plush-feeling materials used liberally. If anything, the new car feels a cut above its predecessor in this department, offering a more relaxed and plush cabin.
We had the opportunity of testing old and new back-to-back. It became apparent that the new car edges even further away from the utilitarian underpinnings of LR’s forbears. Ride is well-controlled, although the magnetically adjustable suspension (coils, not air) don’t allow for the wafting sensation found in the flagship Range Rover. Instead, expect to feel the road, especially if rolling on larger wheels. But all is done while keeping body motion in check, despite rather numb steering.
The 2-litre engine performs well, although it’s not the quietist, as it gets buzzy around the latter part of the tachometer. Despite having 250BHP you’re hard-pressed to feel it. This is likely down to significant weight gain; a result of steel being used predominantly within the new platform. At over 1800kgs it’s at least 200kgs heavier than the older car.
Overall, the Evoque has a lot going for it. Sadly, a tax-induced eye-watering price of LKR25mn means the few that are here will likely remain fairly exclusive. Once the hybrid, 3-cylinder version arrives the appeal will increase. Assuming taxes stay at the levels they are now the 1.5 litre hybrid may just sneak in under LKR15mn – a price that’s far more palatable for an SUV that will likely never leave the city. Just as intended.
Engine: 2.0 litre 4-cyl turbocharged petrol mild-hybrid, 249bhp, 365NM
Gearbox: 9-speed automatic
Performance: 0-100kmph 7.5secs, 230kmph
*Prices are accurate for model and trim specified at the time of publishing
Sam D. Smith in an automotive editor and journalist with a life-long passion for all things car. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers (UK) and nominee for the Sir William Lyons Award for automotive journalism.