It's hard to imagine that the Evoque has already been with us for eight years. Its design remains fresh and modern -- it arguably looks more contemporary than many competitors with far fewer years under their tires. And yet, this all-new, second-generation 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque hasn't arrived a moment too soon, because even if the departing compact SUV's exterior remains daisy fresh, its powertrain, suspension and tech features could certainly do with an update.
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The second-generation model's arrival timing is also fortuitous because Land Rover itself isn't in particularly good health these days. Blame Brexit uncertainties, tariffs or a flawed investment strategy in China, but don't blame the Evoque -- it's been a massive worldwide hit, with over 800,000 units sold.
The new Evoque certainly doesn't stray far from the old crossover's formula. It remains within a few millimeters in virtually every dimension, with the biggest change being a 0.8-inch longer wheelbase to help aid interior space. The model's already minimalist styling has been pared back even further, with slimmer light fixtures and flush-fitting power door handles being among the most notable changes (the latter are adopted from the Evoque's stunningly beautiful Range Rover Velar sibling).
If anything, the Evoque's chunky yet wedgy shape and tapered greenhouse looks even more impressive here, set off by newly optional 21-inch alloys which lend the overall aesthetic a welcome (if slightly cartoonish) Hot Wheels quality. The Evoque remains as distinctive, fashion-forward a design statement as you'll find in the SUV kingdom.
Modern, marvelous interior
If the 2020 Evoque's exterior qualifies as minimalist, then its cabin is positively spare, with almost no physical switchgear. Importantly, Land Rover's designers have somehow accomplished this feat without making the interior feel the least bit dour or ascetic.
That achievement is realized mostly on the strength of the Evoque's large, colorful -- and numerous -- displays, but also its varied and high-quality materials. Among modern production cars, only the Tesla Model 3 offers a more elemental interior, and Elon Musk's electric moonshot does so at the noticeable expense of ergonomics and convenience.
The Evoque's new dashboard is dominated by InControl Touch Pro Duo, Land Rover's latest and greatest infotainment system. It centers on a pair of billboard-sized 10-inch touchscreens and two jog dials whose functions change contextually with whatever is on the screen around them.
With crisp graphics and a clean layout, ICTPD is a massive improvement over the outgoing Evoque's system, though there are still discernible moments of lag between finger press and on-screen action.
In any case, it's nice to be able to have the navigation playing on the upper screen while leaving the lower display for audio or HVAC chores, and a user-definable home screen helps keep things manageable. A crisp new full-color head-up display and a 12.3-inch fully digital gauge cluster are optional, adding substantially to both the configurability and tech-forward feel of the cabin.
Of course, if all of this sounds a bit… much, it's worth noting that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are standard -- their simplified interfaces will be welcome news for those who aren't interested in learning all of InControl's finer points.
Rearview mirror camera
One other key new cabin tech option? The Clearsight rearview mirror. You may have seen this tech on some Nissan or General Motors models lately. It allows for an HD video stream to be piped directly to the interior rear mirror, leveraging a tail-facing camera to provide a wide-aspect, blind spot-free view behind the vehicle.
Although your author's eyes still have trouble adjusting comfortably to the video feed's field of view, there's no doubt many drivers will find this to be a welcome development, especially given the Evoque's small rear window, thick pillars and intrusive second-row headrests. (If you prefer the old-tech reflective glass mirror like me, the digital unit will still happily accommodate.)
Tactile, not tacky
This new Evoque offers one of the more visually and tactilely impressive interiors at any price, and it's worth noting the wide variety of upholstery options on offer. My choice? The Kvadrat woolen textile and Dynamic suedecloth option. It's priced like a premium leather, but it's unique, beautiful, breathable, contemporary and more sustainable.
Predictably, traditional leather comes standard (even finer perforated hides are offered on higher trims), but there's also a unique eucalyptus textile and Ultrafabrics package available as a no-cost option for those who want to keep their ride as animal-free as possible. (It's worth noting that such interiors are not fully vegan owing to the use of animal-derived adhesives, but this is about as PETA-friendly a cabin as you're likely to find industry-wide -- Tesla included.)
The Evoque's stubby proportions are great for urban life, and contribute mightily to this SUV's parkability and ability to exploit momentary gaps in traffic. However, while the interior feels plenty airy (especially when fitted with the panoramic roof) with front seat room, the rear seat remains tight for taller occupants. Cargo room has improved slightly, but remains a modest 21.5 cubic feet (expandable to 50.5 with the rear seats folded).
The new Evoque comes standard with all-wheel drive with one of two Ingenium turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines. The headliner P300 model features a 296-horsepower unit with 295 pound-feet of torque. Zero to 60 miles per hour is promised in 6.3 seconds, with a top speed of 150 mph. Fitted with a standard 48-volt mild-hybrid assist (for enhanced stop/start functionality), this spec unfortunately wasn't available for testing during the model's global launch in Greece.
The base P250 I4, with its 246 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, was up to the job along my test route's coastal and occasionally mountainous Peloponnesian roads, but it never felt particularly swift. Zero to 60 mph is quoted at 7.0 seconds. That acceleration isn't slow for a 4,000-pound SUV, but nor is it particularly swift. Top speed is an academically slower 143 mph.
My base-engined tester was also fitted with the aforementioned 48-volt setup, but the lower-powered engine offering won't be sold with this electric-assist tech in North America. More regrettably, Land Rover officials tell me a new plug-in hybrid model will remain overseas only for the foreseeable future.
Fortunately, the Evoque's standard nine-speed ZF automatic is well behaved and snappy. I found that the paddle shifters were best left alone except when wanting to summon extra engine braking on steep downhills. With peak torque happening from just 1,300 revolutions per minute, there's enough grunt to pull away from stoplights authoritatively even with the lower engine spec, but this powertrain isn't particularly characterful (though it is quieter).
The EPA has rated the 2020 Evoque in its upper-engined, mild-hybrid version at 21 mpg city, 26 highway, and 23 combined -- middling figures for the class. Efficiency ratings for the base engine are pending.
The Evoque's new chassis may not be much different dimensionally, but its comportment feels streets ahead of the outgoing model in terms of compliance and general livability. The old Evoque often suffered from a somewhat brittle and occasionally nervous ride quality, a situation exacerbated by the SUV's large wheels, hobby-horse short wheelbase and somewhat darty steering. The 2020 Evoque's platform is a modest 13 percent stiffer than before, but it also features a new integral-link rear suspension and an updated version of the front MacPherson strut setup that features fluid-filled bushings to curb vibrations.
Ride quality remains on the firmer side, but not objectionably so. Interestingly, Land Rover officials I spoke with admit they slowed the electric power steering rack's immediacy or response just off center. The revised setup doesn't feel sluggish, just more predictable and confidence inspiring, requiring fewer small corrections.
Adaptive dampers are available, and while I only drove a model equipped with this option briefly, it seems like they could be worth the price, especially if you plan to drive your Evoque enthusiastically on occasion.
Naturally, most Evoque owners will never task their SUVs with anything more severe than traversing a muddy field for weekend glamping, but with 8.3 inches of ground clearance, short overhangs and standard Terrain Response 2 drive-mode selector, the Evoque is actually more capable off-road than most other SUVs on the market. Certainly, it's far more accomplished in the rough stuff than direct rivals like the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class and Volvo XC40. To reinforce that capability, Land Rover officials set us loose on everything from steep two-track ascents to modest stream crossings, and the Evoque handled all scenarios with predictable aplomb, taking advantage of its tidy dimensions to squeeze between rocks and trees where larger SUVs would have to seek alternative routing.
Missing in action from this new generation are the old two-door "Coupé" body style and the iconoclastic Convertible variant, both victims of slow sales.
I mentioned the availability of a digital rearview mirror, but there's another, even more novel and impressive use of cameras on this new Evoque: Clearsight Ground View. The optional system goes a step beyond the available 360-degree camera suite by taking views from the forward-facing cameras on the grille and side mirrors and stitching them into a composite image showing what's directly under the front of the vehicle. This video feed isn't quite live -- it's delayed by a few eye blinks to effectively show you what's already beneath your tires. It's as if you've got X-ray vision and are staring directly through the hood and down to the front wheels.
Aside from being a neat party trick, Clearsight Ground View shows the orientation of your front wheels to help you negotiate tricky rocks and tree roots when off-roading. This low-speed system will no doubt be used by Evoque owners far more frequently to avoid scarring their front fascias when nuzzling up to the parking berms at their local hot yoga studio.
Starting from $42,650 plus $995 for destination (last year's model was $41,800), the 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque definitely isn't cheap -- in fact, pricing starts north of most of its competitors by many thousands of dollars and it's easy to spec one deep into the mid-$50,000 range.
Then again, provided you don't need any extra space, the Evoque is sufficiently premium in its execution that it feels like a legitimate substitution for luxury SUVs that are a class or two above it in size. Simply put, nothing feels as upscale or as fashionable in its class, nor is anything remotely as capable off-road.
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