New from the ground up, familiar-looking and packed with technology
- Packed with new tech that brings it up to date
- Stylish inside and out, appealing to existing owners
- New mild-hybrid versions should improve efficiency
- Like the last Evoque, it'll be costly when loaded
- Is the styling too conservative?
- We've lost the stylish three-door coupe version
The wraps have come off one of the UK's most important cars: Land Rover has unveiled the 2019 Range Rover Evoque, and at first sight it looks reassuringly familiar. Don't worry – the old car's ageing kit has been replaced by cutting-edge tech, with an emphasis on driver aids and drivetrain efficiency.
In its seven-year life, the outgoing Range Rover Evoque has been a massive success. Over 750,000 have been sold worldwide and you can guarantee that each and every one of those sales has been highly profitable. The Evoque arguably helped accelerate Land Rover's move into financial health in 2011 and its subsequent success.
It's been a critical success, too, with 217 awards under its belt. That's more than any other British-built and designed car. Given that Land Rover's parent company Jaguar Land Rover is struggling financially, thanks to a very diesel-heavy range, and with the anticipated economic effects of Brexit, this car needs to do well.
What's new about the 2019 Range Rover Evoque's styling?
Quite a lot. First thing's first: despite looking like a Range Rover Velar-ised facelift of the outgoing model, this is a brand spanking new model. So has Land Rover made a mistake making its smallest Range Rover look barely any different from before?
Land Rover clearly knows what it’s doing. That it’s a careful, measured evolution of the old Range Rover Evoque is a very deliberate strategy: it will continue to attract new buyers who were wowed by the desirabilty of the original, without making existing customers feel hopelessly outdated with an SUV packing a design stuck in the early 2010s.
The family look begins with the Range Rover Velar-aping matrix LED headlamps and elongated tail lights, which are bisected by the tailgate. There’s also a dash of street theatre courtesy of the pop-out door handles, which debuted on the Velar.
It looks similar – so where is the progress?
Although the new Range Rover Evoque takes up almost the same amount of space on the road as the old model, its underpinnings are all-new and more space-efficient, able to accept electrification of the engine options.
Under the bonnet, there have been changes, although all are still powered – for now – by Jaguar Land Rover's Ingenium range of petrol and diesel engines. At launch 2.0-litre engines of both varieties will be available, all with automatic transmissions, barring the entry-level front-wheel drive 150hp diesel which has a manual gearbox.
The most interesting development is the use of a new 48-volt mild hybrid system, which is fitted to all of the automatic models. This is used to recover braking energy, which is stored in a battery to use for low-speed driving and to boost performance when accelerating. Late in 2019 a plug-in hybrid with a three-cylinder petrol engine and a larger capacity battery will also be available.
What's the Range Rover Evoque like inside?
There’s a significant uplift in the cabin’s quality and glamour with yet more Velar-inspired touches, such as the pair of 10-inch touchscreens. It’s clean and uncluttered, but with so few knobs and buttons, prodding different parts of the screen to control things will take some getting used to when driving.
It feels sumptuous inside the Evoque with a choice of leather trim, faux suede, a woollen option and a new eucalyptus-derived textile. For such a high-tech cabin, Land Rover’s chosen to debut a couple of new showcase features in the new Range Rover Evoque.
Called ClearSight, at the touch of a button the rear-view mirror converts into a display screen for a camera mounted at the rear – perfect if your rear seat passengers or stuff in the boot is cluttering up your view.
The other is grandly titled Ground View Technology, which projects a 180-degree under-vehicle view from the front of the Evoque, making it easier to avoid kerbing wheels in tight city car parks or boulders when off-roading.
What is the 2019 Range Rover Evoque like to drive?
We were treated to a short off-road drive of the 2019 Range Rover Evoque at a disused railway yard in Shoreditch. As it proudly wears the Land Rover green oval, it needs to be excellent in rough conditions.
The early signs are good: four-wheel drive is standard on all Evoques except for the base manual model, but in order to make them more fuel efficient the power to the rear wheels is disconnected unless extra traction is needed, such as on slippery tarmac or when off-roading.
Land Rover says that the Range Rover Evoque retains the excellent off-road prowess of its predecessor, thanks to the excellent Terrain Response 2 system. This automatically adjusts how the car behaves based upon what surfaces it detects its being driven on, plus, 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 for trickling around at low speed.
We tried a petrol mild-hybrid version and came away impressed with the overall refinement. The electrical boost kicks in at low soeeds, rendering the car effectvely silent in heavy traffic, and benefiting getaways from standing starts by helping to bolster low-speed responsiveness.
Overall, and despite having a very short drive in it, we can at least proclaim that it's excellent to drive off-road – both through excellent in-built abilty and the use of clever systems such as Ground View Technology. It's tough, comfortable and easy to drive.
Is the 2019 Range Rover Evoque as cramped as the old one?
Definitely not. Its wheelbase has been increased by 20mm with more rear legroom, while the front seats are positioned differently so that your feet have somewhere to stretch out underneath.
Note that it’s a five-door only this time around – sales of the slinkier three-door Coupe were too low to justify a replacement – as for a new Convertible, there’s no word one way or the other.
There’s also more space in the cabin to hide all sorts of detritus, while the boot’s also around 10% larger. With all five seats in place there’s 591 litres of boot space, extending to 1,383 litres when the rear bench is folded – that’s larger than an Audi Q5 with the seats up, but smaller with them folded.
How much does the 2019 Evoque cost and when is it on sale?
Trim levels are Land Rover’s familiar S, SE and HSE arrangement with sportier R-Dynamic versions of each, plus a special First Edition to celebrate the launch. Prices start at £31,600 for a manual D150 S version. Orders can be placed now, but there’re no deliveries until spring 2019.
It's early days for Land Rover's vitally-important new baby. The 2019 Evoque replaces a car that's sold in bucketloads, and which – seven years on from its launch – still looks fresh and oozes desirability. So, the good news for Evoque fans is that the 2019 car looks and feels so familiar.
The arrival of the 48-volt mild-hybrid version puts it bang on the pace with its opposition, while 2020's PHEV will add further appeal for those moving away from diesel. For those who aren't, the retention of a 150hp entry-level model means that those who favour cars fuelled from the black pump aren't denied a decent option, too.
We'll have to wait until we drive the Range Rover Evoque for a fuller picture, but given the excellence of its Velar sister car, and the importance of this car to Land Rover, be in no doubt that they will have thrown the kitchen sink at it in order to continue its undoubted success story. We await those first drives with bated breath...