Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5
  • Three petrol engines, three diesels, one PHEV
  • Petrol engine is refined and revvy
  • Diesel engine is punchy and quiet

Land Rover has ensured there are plenty of choices for aspiring Range Rover Evoque buyers. There are three basic engine setups – the 2.0-litre petrol, 2.0-litre diesel, and the 1.5-litre plug-in hybrid (PHEV), all from Jaguar Land Rover's 'Ingenium' family of engines. The petrol and diesel models are available with three power outputs (detailed below).

They range from the 2.0-litre diesel with 150hp and front-wheel drive to the top petrol four-wheel drive, developing double that. Hybrid or electric SUV buyers are catered for with the arrival of the new P300e model, which is Land Rover's first 'small' plug-in hybrid.

  • D150 2wd manual 150hp, 380Nm, 9.9sec 0-60mph, 125mph
  • D150 AWD automatic MHEV 150hp, 380Nm, 10.4sec 0-60mph, 122mph
  • D180 AWD automatic MHEV 180hp, 430Nm, 8.8sec 0-60mph, 128mph
  • D240 AWD automatic MHEV 240hp, 500Nm, 7.2sec 0-60mph, 140mph
  • P200 AWD automatic MHEV 200hp, 320Nm, 8.0sec 0-60mph, 134mph
  • P250 AWD automatic MHEV 250hp, 365Nm, 7.0sec 0-60mph, 143mph
  • P300 AWD automatic MHEV 300hp, 400Nm, 6.3sec 0-60mph, 150mph
  • P300e AWD automatic PHEV 309hp, 540Nm, 6.1sec 0-60mph, 150mph

Diesel engines detailed

Of the diesels, we've yet to drive the entry-level D150 or D180, but based on our experience of these power units in the previous-generation Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport, they deliver decent performance and reasonable economy when driven gently – certainly 180hp unit is the most refined of the three, and rarely does it feel slower than the range-topping D240.

Having said that, we can't help but feel that the D240 unit really suits the Evoque. It's punchy from low revs, and is impressively quiet compared with other JLR cars powered by this engine (they've learned a lot about installing them). Although it doesn't feel as quick as the performance figures (above) hint at, rarely do you feel this is a heavy SUV.

A few points worth bearing in mind are that with nine speeds, the Evoque rarely feels like it's in the wrong gear, but if you need a quick burst of acceleration, the transmission is sometimes very lazy to respond, even when you floor the accelerator. It's more responsive in Sport mode, but still can be caught on the hop. If you want to be sure of maximum punch, best change manually using the paddleshifters (Command Shift in Land Rover-speak).

Petrol engines detailed

We've yet to drive the P200 and P300, but the P250 version we did drive was very impressive in its refinement and performance. Like the D240 (above), its acceleration doesn't feel as quick as the figures would suggest, and again, we'll put that down to an impressively-refined engine, and the high-riding seating position. Unlike the diesel, it needs working harder to get into its stride – you'll be flooring the throttle far more often to keep up with the flow, which in tur, eats into your fuel economy figures.

But the overriding impression of the petrol Evoque is one of unruffled calm. The power unit is beautifully isolated and rarely do you hear it – even when you're driving it hard. On the motorway, it's settled and refined, but if you want a quick burst of acceleration for overtaking, you'll need to work it hard and wait for the transmission to change down two or three gears. It's one of those cars that you wish there were room for a six-cylinder engine under the bonnet.

The petrol engines also continue to suffer from the characteristic of driving the wheels for a good few seconds after you’ve lifted off the accelerator pedal. This typically happens at low speeds around town in the first few gears, acting as if it’s trying to maintain momentum as you come to a stop. While this might be there to save fuel, it’s initially disconcerting and the delayed reaction acts more like a sticky throttle pedal.

The plug-in hybrid

Although Land Rover has released full details of the Range Rover Evoque P300e, we've yet to drive it so can't comment on anything other than the figures (quoted above), which promise a lively drive. According to Land Rover engineers we've spoken to, the P300e is especially impressive for its low-speed smoothness, overall efficiency and off-road controllability. It will be interesting to see how many people make the switch to it from diesel.

Gearbox options

There are only two transmissions from launch, and this is unlikely to change in the future. The six-speed manual version is only available on the front-wheel drive entry-level D150, and we've yet to sample it in an Evoque. Based on our experience of the Discovery Sport, though, it's light and easy to use, and perfectly geared for motorway driving.

The other transmission that will end up driving 80% of all Evoques is the nine-speed auto. Evoque fans will have no doubt noticed that the old cylindrical selector has been dropped, and has been replaced by a more conventional selector shared with the Jaguar F-Type. It's more in keeping with the sporty Evoque, although it lacks the quality feel of the original selector.

How does it handle?

  • Impressive roadholding and grip
  • Responsive steering
  • Powerful brakes

One thing you can say about Land Rover is that it knows how to make an off-roader handle well on the road. There was little wrong with the way the old Evoque handled – it was stiff and responsive, and did a good job in disguising its bulk. This new one still feels nimble, but dig a little deeper and it proves to have traded some of its agility for more of a comfortable and luxurious feel.

This new one with its larger steering wheel and its slower response off-centre, combine with the relatively dulled-down pedal responses means it doesn’t feel as sporty or as alert as it used to be.

This sounds like a potential disappointment, but it should actually benefit most customers as the Evoque now seems much more focussed on being luxurious, rather than trying to combine luxury and a sporting driving experience. It now feels more laidback and grown up, resulting in something that’s more at home at being driven slowly in a relaxed manner. It works, feeling more mature than it used to be and is a better luxury car for it. Even if it’s lost a little sense of fun along the way of it.

In bends, this one rolls a little more, although the body control is good enough for this not to be an issue as it never feels anything other than composed. And as you'll read below, the pay-off is worth it, as ride comfort and damping are excellent.

But overall, for someone who's come into the Evoque from a lower-riding car, the handling won't be any cause for concern – it goes where it's pointed, and feels responsive in a way that few SUVs do. We did drive the Evoque off-road too, and it's very impressive, especially when you deploy all of its driver assistance systems – the only thing that stops it being one of the best overall is a relative lack of ground clearance. That said, it's still much more capable off road than any of its rivals – quite an achievement.

What's it like off-road?

Land Rover says that the Range Rover Evoque retains the excellent off-road prowess of its predecessor. On the strength of our drives, we have to agree. Thanks to the excellent Terrain Response 2 system, which automatically adjusts how the car behaves based upon what surfaces it detects it's being driven on, it's a piece of cake to keep in motion in the worst conditions.

If you really want to, you can drive through water up to 600mm deep – that’s a 100mm increase over the old Evoque. The driving position is spot on, and the controls are familiar for anyone who's come out of an old Evoque, or who has any experience of the Velar. The low-speed throttle response is excellent, exactly what's needed for trickling around at low speed.

Overall, it's excellent to drive off-road – both through excellent in-built ability and the use of clever systems such as Ground View Technology. It's tough, comfortable and easy to drive.