Range Rover Evoque SUV review
“Boasting similar styling to the previous model, the new Range Rover Evoque features an array of new technology and is one of the most luxurious small SUVs”
- Fantastic off-road ability
- Mild-hybrid tech
- Updated looks remain stylish
- Rivals better to drive
- Some gearbox hesitation
- Slightly cramped rear seats
The Range Rover Evoque is now in its second generation after a new model was launched in 2018, and it’s still Land Rover’s smallest SUV. The success of the first made the latest Evoque a ‘difficult second album’ for the British brand, so the styling updates were evolutionary and the major changes focused on sweeping changes to the interior, technology and powertrains. The competition remains strong, with the Evoque challenging SUVs such as the Mercedes GLC Coupe, BMW X4, Audi Q3 and Jaguar E-Pace alongside premium electric models like the Audi Q4 e-tron and BMW iX3.
When it was first revealed in 2011, the first-generation Evoque quickly became a bestseller, successfully managing to carry over all of the premium features of the brand’s larger models but with a far less daunting size and price than other Range Rovers. Its smaller dimensions and styling meant it was very popular with people who lived in cities, even if the Evoque proved itself a competent off-roader in spite of concerns to the contrary.
The design of the original Evoque was so successful that it made no sense for Land Rover to mess with a winning formula. An update in 2020 added slimmer front and rear lights give the car a more modern appearance, not too dissimilar to that of the Range Rover Velar. Otherwise, it’s essentially a lightly updated version of the first Evoque, keeping the formula that meant it delivered on SUV prowess and luxury while being a more manageable size around town than other Range Rovers.
Underneath the bodywork, the latest Evoque sits on a heavily reworked version of the platform that underpinned the first Evoque and the current Jaguar E-Pace. The car is barely any longer than the version it replaces - its size seems to suit most customers perfectly - but the interior offers slightly more room, thanks to an increase in the distance between the wheels.
The Evoque and E-Pace are essentially two directly competing cars from the same company, so the Range Rover has been designed to appeal to different buyers than the Jaguar. While the Jaguar may be the best choice for keen drivers, the Evoque is a much more refined cruiser, capable of covering long distances with ease. On the road it’s very quiet, even compared to the previous model. Plus, it makes up for its passable on-road driving experience by being very good off-road.
Underneath the ‘clamshell’ style bonnet, Land Rover offers a choice of petrol and diesel engines, each with three power outputs. The entry-level 163bhp diesel engine is the only one available with two-wheel-drive and a manual gearbox, but it’s best avoided as it doesn’t provide enough performance for what is a reasonably heavy SUV. The higher-powered diesel engine offers similar fuel economy figures in the real-world, while the petrol engined variants are thirsty and expected to be a niche choice.
The P300e plug-in hybrid is the undisputed economy champion of the range, promising claimed economy figures of up to 144mpg and a pure electric range of around 34 miles. It’s powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine, an electric motor mounted on the rear axle, and a 15kWh battery. It’s smooth and refined to drive, with virtually no interruption when switching from electric to petrol power, and despite the additional weight of the PHEV powertrain, it's faster than the conventional petrol and diesel models.
The Evoque’s more powerful engines provide relaxed and easy progress, and the four-wheel-drive system means it feels secure in all weather conditions. It features specific driving modes for snow, grass and other slippery surfaces, and rutted mud. To drive, the Evoque offers a composed on-road driving experience rather than sporty, with twisty B-roads highlighting a fair amount of body roll and a lack of steering feel.
That rakish styling does impact on practicality somewhat, but the sheer number of Evoque sales shows that it’s not the number one concern for UK buyers. Land Rover says the new model does offer a bit more boot space, while the slightly extended wheelbase improves room for passengers in the rear seats.
The Evoque could trade on its badge and style alone, but it helps that it’s an accomplished and refined luxury SUV that we’d expect to continue selling in huge numbers.