Auto focus

Should you lock in to the new Evoque?

S.Muralidhar | Updated on April 10, 2020 Published on April 09, 2020

The rear design is similar to the bigger Rangie with similarly designed tail-lamp units and the sharply chiseled tailgate of the predecessor   -  S Muralidhar

Range Rover’s baby crossover now looks and feels like a small Velar, and that is good news for its fans

Although Victoria Beckham, aka Posh Spice, and wife of British football star David Beckham, eventually sold the special edition Range Rover Evoque that she helped design, it was still an endorsement of the appeal of JLR’s baby crossover. The famously fashionable Mrs Beckham’s choice, and that of many other design awards, still couldn’t convince everyone and the Evoque did have its share of critics who weren’t convinced by its over-compact footprint and its chiseled, slightly awkward design. For the others, the smitten lot, the Evoque, despite its diminutive size, was funky, had an impish appeal, and could yet be as practical and capable as some of its bigger siblings. Range Rover DNA runs in its veins, defining not just its design and its stance, but also its all-terrain ability. But, the Evoque had its share of pain points such as the cramped interiors and low visibility offered by that tiny strip of rear glass. Worse, it wasn’t the most affordable compact crossover in its class.

After nearly seven years in the market, it was also beginning to lose its appeal. The second generation of the Evoque was introduced for the 2019 model year worldwide. This was a completely new model built on the brand’s ‘premium transverse architecture’. The new model landed in Indian showrooms by the first week of February this year. Barely ten days before the Covid-19 pandemic caused a lockdown nationwide, I managed to spend a weekend with the second-gen Evoque. How does it compare with its predecessor? Is it more value for money now that it stocks up on a lot of new tech? Here are my first impressions.

Design

The first thing that strikes you about the new Evoque is how much it resembles the Velar. That’s not by accident, but by design. The retractable door handles, the smooth, uncluttered design and the crease-free body panels now give it a new sophistication. It hasn’t grown in proportions unlike most other models from most other brands. It has piled on only as much as one would after a weekend of binge-watching Netflix with crisps and popcorn for company. The only measure worth mentioning is the increase in wheelbase by a couple of centimetres, which then translates into a slight improvement in cabin space.

 

The Evoque was built for the city and it continues to be the size that will be a universal fit in any crowded metropolis around the world. But it’s design still delivers the impact of a Range Rover. The three straight lines that define its side profile, the steeply raked windscreen, the clamshell bonnet and the (unique to the Evoque) bonnet-line that runs over the wheel arches. Still viewing from the side, the new Evoque’s rear half is almost, almost, identical to the Velar. The rear design is also very similar to the bigger Rangie with similarly designed tail-lamp units and the sharply chiseled tailgate of the predecessor giving way to a smoother, flush finished fifth door. The Velar influence can be seen in the features at the front also, where the bonnet grille and the headlamp units remind you of the bigger model. There are differences though, if you look carefully, with narrower light units and a few flavourful bits that were Evoque exclusives.

Cabin

The layered concept for the dashboard with the textured mid-section that was a distinctive feature in the predecessor is still on   -  S Muralidhar

 

The interior of the second-gen Evoque has towed a similar design metric. With the flavour of the Evoque intact, while bringing in a cleaner, more minimalist design for the dashboard and most other panels. Helping the cause is the addition of touchscreen controls, now three of them (in the R-Dynamic SE variant), two in the ‘S-trim’ you see in these pics. There is also the digital info screen in the instrument cluster and steering mounted controls which are customisable based on the menu and offer a very likeable haptic feedback. The layered concept for the dashboard with the textured mid-section that was a distinctive feature in the predecessor is still on. But the quality of materials has improved. A new aluminium finish panel under the gearstick with the Land Rover logo boosts the premiumness of the centre console, though it takes up a lot of space, a portion of which, I felt, could have housed a wireless charger. Apart from the infotainment screen embedded at the top of the centre stack, the second one below it now features twin rotary knobs that double up as controls for aircon, fan speed, terrain response selection etc.

Apart from the infotainment screen, the one below it features twin rotary knobs that double up as controls for aircon, fan speed, terrain response selection   -  S Muralidhar

 

The Evoque’s front seats are really comfortable and I stepped out still fresh after spending many hours in them. The rear seats are equally comfy and sport backrests that are angled just right. Headroom and legroom at the rear are just about enough if you are of average build and are not expecting to lounge and stretch your legs. The high-set shoulder line, a classic Range Rover design trait, gives rear seat occupants more privacy, but the narrow rear glass’ low visibility will be further compromised if there would be a tall occupant at the middle of the rear seat. You could use the ‘ClearSight interior rear view mirror’, which doubles up as a LED screen that is fed a live video of the rear. But that takes some getting used to; I found it very distracting to use while driving. The panoramic sunroof is a nice feature to have for night drives, though during the upcoming summer it might leave the aircon working overtime. The boot offers 472-litres of luggage space.

Performance

I was driving the ‘D180 S’ variant of the new Evoque. As the name suggests it is the S-trim, Ingenium Diesel engine version that delivers 180hp (132kW) of power and 430Nm of torque. The 2-litre, 4-cylinder engine features a variable geometry turbocharger and is paired to a 9-speed automatic transmission that has been tuned for more tractability in lower gears and for optimising efficiency. That is not an easy combination to achieve and that shows in the gearbox’s slightly edgy response to heavy throttle inputs. But linear inputs elicit a clean, torquey start with a strong build up of speed from as low as 1800rpm. Peak torque is available from a low 1,750rpm. The midrange is decent, but power does taper off quickly once the needle gets close to the redline at 4,000rpm. The auto gearbox’s shifts themselves are quick, but when I needed to feel a bit more connected, I used the paddles on the steering.

With Terrain Response 2 automatically detecting the surface being driven on and adjusting the front-biased four-wheel drive system accordingly, you could choose to stay on that mode if the road is of a mixed quality. I could use the right knob to choose between four other special drive modes. A ground clearance of 215mm, wading depth capacity of 600mm and decent approach and departure angles, the new Evoque is a propah Range Rover.

The other powertrain option that will be available later this year is the 2-litre, 4-cylinder, turbocharged Ingenium petrol engine and 9-speed gearbox, that will be combined with a 48-volt mild hybrid system. This combo will deliver 184kW (250hp) of power and 365Nm of torque.

Bottom Line

The new Evoque’s performance has been benchmarked with the bigger more luxurious Rangies and that shows when you consider multiple parameters. One of them is cabin noise levels. It may not be the level of isolation that is achieved in the flagship Range Rover but it is still remarkably quiet inside the new Evoque with nary any road/ tyre or even powertrain noise coming through in city traffic. It does get noisier if you are powering down a windy road, keeping the engine on a boil. The ride again is not as cushioned as it is in the flagship, but it is accommodating, and the cabin insulation is even capable of erasing any audible effect of bad roads, though you would still feel it on the seat of your pants. There isn’t much steering feel, though it doesn’t lack in weight and precision.

If you are willing to look past its limitations, the still tight interior space and the not so burly presence, the new Evoque does offer a unique package. It delivers oodles of character, is much more refined now and packs in more features than its predecessor. Starting at about ₹55 lakh, the Evoque is still expensive, but is also much more appealing now. The top spec R-Dynamic SE variant offers a bit more value for an additional ₹5 lakh.

Interested? Head to a showroom post lockdown. Until then stay safe at home.

Published on April 09, 2020

A letter from the Editor


Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Sincerely,

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.