Range Rover Evoque 2 gets its global premiere

Second generation will build on original’s success

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What do you mean you can’t see the new model? It’s there. But such is the demand for Land Rover’s baby Range Rover, they decided to keep the styling familiar, while changing almost everything. So, despite looking very similar to the original – and hugely successful – model, the only body parts carried forward from the original Evoque are the door hinges.

The more you look at it, the more you spot. Differently sculpted doors, thinner headlights, larger wheels, tweaked wheelarches, everything has changed subtly. And it’s built onto a new mixed metal platform too, and has a 21mm longer wheelbase – giving rear seat passengers 20mm of extra leg room. It may not sound huge, but an extra three-quarters of an inch could make all the difference.

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If that’s not enough, new rear suspension with lower top damper mounts increases the load space significantly, and better storage has been designed in throughout the vehicle. And Velar-esq touches abound throughout, with the twin-display Touch Pro Duo centre console and retracting door handles. Plus the model gains some of the hi-tech environmentally-friendly fabrics first used on the bigger model, as well as some new fabrics.

And it’s environmental credentials which will elevate Evoque 2 over the first-generation models. A year ago Land Rover announced that all new models would have electric options and apart from the two-wheel drive model, all of the first batch will have either petrol or diesel MHEV mild-hybrid drivetrains. Essentially, energy will be stored in the underfloor batteries when the car comes to a stop, then, when you accelerate you’ll augment the power from the internal combustion engine with electric power, improving performance and reducing emissions. And, as you’d expect, the diesel engines are ultra-low emission EU6.

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What’s more, a three-cylinder plug-in hybrid PHEV will be coming in a year’s time. That will see the front wheels driven by internal combustion and the rears driven by electric – there won’t be the traditional power to all wheels through a transfer box and propshafts.

Even that has changed on Evoque 2. The rear drive automatically decouples on the road when not required, saving fuel, but a twin-clutch rear diff means you get similar performance to that gained with an electronic locking rear diff when you’re off-road, improving off-road ability. Oh, and the wading depth has also increased to 600mm.

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On top of that bi-metallic brake discs shave off 1.2kg per corner – that’s a lot of unsprung weight gone – and combined with the new suspension setup and lower engine mounts on the torque axis of the engine, you’ve a significantly improved drive for both on- and off-road.

As well as answering complaints about loadspace, Land Rover has also dealt with visibility issues. Door mirrors have been re-positioned to improve forwards visibility and a rear camera system, mounted in the shark’s fin antenna, transmits a live 1.7 megapixel feed to the rear-view mirror, so you’ll have a clear view of the road behind you, no matter what you have in the rear. Engineers tell us that the image is far clearer than you’ll get looking through the glass – and is especially good in rain and in the dark.

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More cameras and trick electronics make the ‘transparent bonnet’ previewed on Discovery Vision a reality. The front cameras stich together images using Ground View technology to show what is under the vehicle. Working at up to 18mph it’s not a ‘live’ image, though – just a recording of what the cameras saw before it passed over the section of ground. If you drive forward and stop, and Tiddles runs under the car, you won’t see him…

Unusually for the premiere of a vehicle, we got the chance to test some of the Evoque 2’s new features over Land Rover Experience’s Terrapod, getting to see how the new cameras work – and they are all impressive. We drove through a swimming pool to test the wading depth and a side-slope for the other capabilities. This is still a Range Rover after all.

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The only thing I found that I don’t like, purely for styling, are the new fabric seats. The leather ones are fantastic, as you’d expect, but the two-part eucalyptus or Kvadrat wool-blend ones have a hint of 1980s Sergio Tacchini-style about them. Which is a shame, because, I think that Evoque buyers will want to embrace the environmentally-friendly fabrics and this model could see a significant shift from traditional upmarket leather trim to new fabrics.

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All-in-all, the new Evoque 2 may look similar to the old one, but it is so much better. Land Rover are onto another winner.

The Range Rover Evoque 2 starts at £31,600 and the first ones will be in customer hands in spring 2019. For more details go to the Land Rover website.