How do you right a best seller? That was Land Rover's problem when it came to creating the second generation version of its runaway success story, the Range Rover Evoque, a car that now accounts for a third of the brand's total sales. It's a fashionable, yet capable proposition that has fundamentally changed the premium mid-sized SUV market and rivals now have to contend with an evolved version that features a more efficient range of diesel and petrol engines, including electrified and mild hybrid technology. Plus there's smarter styling, more interior space, extra off road ability and sharper handling thanks to an all-new 'PTA' platform. As a result, if you want an SUV of this kind, this is still the one to beat.
The Evoque range is primarily focused on Ingenium four-cylinder units. All automatic versions of this model, regardless of whether they're diesel or petrol, will have a 48-volt mild hybrid system equipped with an 8Ah lithium-ion battery. The petrol derivatives produce 197bhp, 247bhp and 296bhp, while the diesels develop 148bhp, 178bhp and 237bhp. Your dealer can offer you a manual gearbox available on the entry-level front-driven diesel, but the remainder of the models in the range will come with the brand's latest nine-speed automatic. A less powerful three-cylinder turbo petrol powerplant has also been developed for this MK2 model, an engine you'll be able to order either as a standalone unit or as part of a plug-in hybrid configuration.
As before, all but the most basic Evoques will come with 4WD but their transmission features a 'driveline disconnect' feature which will see the car default to a front-driven configuration unless a loss of traction dictates otherwise. An 'Active Driveline' system will be optionally available, which uses a rear-mounted double-clutch which offers torque vectoring on the rear axle to aid corner turn-in. Off-road ability is enhanced with the fitment of 'Terrain Response 2' tech from the larger range Rover that analyses the road surface and adjusts the transmission to suit. Wading depth is up 100mm to 600mm too.
Land Rover needed to keep the Evoque looking contemporary without diluting its inherent appeal. This time round, the range is focused on the five-door body style that the majority of buyers of the earlier MK1 model chose. The Evoque's highly desirable design is a hallmark of this luxurious mid-sized SUV. For that reason, certain key elements, like the way that the clamshell bonnet is interrupted by bulging front wheel arches, and the ultra-slim rear glass area, have been retained. From the side though, there's a much cleaner look, with flush door handles borrowed from the Velar and smoother surfacing on the doors. Of course, what's more important is the stuff you can't see: Land Rover says that 90% of the body components are new, partly because this second generation Evoque is the first Jaguar land Rover group model to be based upon the company's completely new 'Premium Transverse Architecture'.
Inside, the cabin has been influenced by the brand's larger Velar, hence the introduction of a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and, on plusher versions, the option of a pair of centre-dash 10-inch 'Touch Pro Duo' screens. The new 'PTA' platform has extended the Evoque's wheelbase, so though the new model is actually a few millimetres shorter than its predecessor, it has better cabin packaging. You should notice this on the rear seat. Plus in the boot, where capacity has risen 10% to 591-litres - enough, Land Rover reckons, for a full set of golf clubs or a folded pram. With the second row folded down, there's 1,383-litres on offer.
Land Rover has spent its money wisely with this second generation Evoque. This car's just become significantly more economical and capable, both on road and off. Just about the only thing that can really sink this model is for it to go horribly out of fashion. That doesn't look like happening any time soon, but just in case, Land Rover has concentrated on substance over style with this MK2 model. In doing so, the brand has future-proofed its biggest money-spinner.
In summary then, the Evoque is now even easier to recommend than it was before. It's the only car in the premium compact SUV segment with a conceivable appeal to lifestyle buyers not necessarily searching for a premium mid-sized SUV - and that says a lot. If you are in the market for something of this kind, can stretch to the asking price and can afford not to place too much of a premium on practicality, then you won't be disappointed. This is, quite simply, the class of the field.Click here to find out more about our Land Rover Range Rover Evoque range