According to Land Rover’s chief design officer Gerry McGovern, the marketing experts predicted annual sales of around 30,000 cars when the original Range Rover Evoque first hit the streets in 2011 – but 120,000 flew off the shelves in the first year, and a further 650,000 or so have been sold around the world to make the Evoque the undisputed king of luxury compact SUVs.
And now an all-new Evoque (£31,600-£40,350) has arrived to step into its predecessor’s decidedly big shoes with an even more refined combination of sharp looks, interior appointments, urban sophistication and off-road capability. Although some critics have suggested the new Evoque is “just like the old one”, the car has been redesigned from the ground up with a 20mm longer wheelbase for additional rear legroom and storage space and a fully “connected” interior with sleek finishes, a state-of-the-art twin-screen infotainment system and integrated Wi-Fi.
Perhaps the most significant advance, however, is the introduction of a “mild hybrid” power plant on most models that combines a choice of petrol or diesel engines with a 48-volt starter/generator that “harvests” energy usually lost during deceleration and stores it in an under-floor battery for use when pulling away. The system shuts off the combustion engine during braking at speeds below 11mph, reducing emissions and helping the car to achieve up to 50.4mpg.
Other technology includes the world’s first under-vehicle camera system that projects a 180-degree view from beneath the front of the car, a gadget designed to help negotiate everything from tight parking spots to cresting a hill.
The drawbacks of the original Evoque’s oft-criticised rearview mirror have also been addressed with an optional ClearSight system, which provides a 50-degree field of vision by transforming the rearview mirror into a high-definition video screen fed from a roof-mounted camera.
The new Evoque’s sleeker, cleaner body design belies its off-road potential, which is dramatically enhanced over the old model with the introduction of Land Rover’s excellent dial-controlled terrain response system that can automatically select the correct engine/transmission settings for the terrain or allow manual input when tackling anything from snow to mud and ruts – or taking advantage of the car’s ability to wade through water up to 60cm deep.
And while the cabin might look too luxurious to accommodate muddy shooting parties or bedraggled dogs, premium fabrics made from technical textiles created from recycled plastics promise to make it surprisingly practical and hard-wearing.
So the Evoque is a Land Rover, after all…