Just when you think you’ve seen everything, the 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque manages to open your eyes to new vistas.
The 2020 model is the debut of the second generation of the five-door luxury compact SUV/crossover. In its previous generation, the Evoque was also available as a two door and a convertible.
Launched originally in 2011, the model has been a success, with more than 800,000 examples finding homes around the world.
For its encore debut, the Evoque is available in three models, a base Evoque S, with a list price of $47,950, an upgraded R-Dynamic and a First Edition trim.
In both the Evoque and R-Dynamic you can choose higher trim levels.
My tester was a Evoque SE, which starts at $51,500, with a number of options.
If you are familiar with the more boxy offerings by Land Rover/Range Rover, the Evoque can be a pleasant surprise. Instead of the typical utilitarian SUV shape, the Evoque adopts a more compact, urban silhouette.
The shape of the 2020 model isn’t much different from the distinctive look of the original, which is a good thing, as it serves to set itself apart from its competition, such as the BMW X2, Porsche Macan and Mercedes-Benz GLA.
Its 1,905-millimetre width is particularly evident (as compared with 1,803 mm for the Benz) and gives the Evoque a visual stance that I compare to a bulldog.
This wider cabin gives it an advantage when carrying cargo, with 612 litres of volume with the back seats up and 1,430 litres with the seat backs down. My only complaint is that, when folded, the floor is not flat.
But peek under the trunk floor and you will find a full-size temporary spare.
Towing capacity is impressive as well, an 1,800-kilogram limit with the towing package option. That’s more than double the capacity of the Macan.
Peek under the hood and you will find a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder producing 246 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque for the regular Evoque, and 296 hp and 295 lb.-ft. for the R-Dynamic trim.
The more powerful engine includes the addition of a 48-volt battery, making it a mild hybrid. Range Rover has confirmed that it also plans to offer a plug-in hybrid version in about a year.
For now, the gasoline-powered four-cylinder is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
Power can be diverted to each side of the driveline during cornering, and the rear differential can be locked for off-roading forays.
Range Rover’s Terrain Response 2 system allows drivers to choose from four modes to optimize torque under different road (or lack of road) conditions. Alternatively, drivers can just leave it in Auto and let the vehicle choose the best mode.
If you are going to go off the beaten track, Range Rover’s novel Clearsight Ground View technology is mind-boggling — it allows you to see under the front of the vehicle.
This electronic wizardry is possible with the help of two forward-facing cameras located under the outside mirrors. The cameras save an image of the road ahead (when travelling up to 29 km/h). It then delivers an image as if the driver was able (like Superman) to see through the engine.
An image of the two front wheels is superimposed on the screen to give you a reference to what you are seeing.
Although useful mainly on the trail, it can also be used to see curbs and other low obstacles. Although this is the first application (in the world), expect to see the feature on future Land Rovers and Range Rovers in the next few years.
While we are on the subject of cameras and vision, it is probably the right time to introduce the Clearsight Rear View Mirror.
This camera is mounted on the shark-fin audio antenna found on the rear of the roof of the Evoque. The camera isn’t meant just for backing up, as most rear-facing cameras are today — it is to serve as an alternative to the rear-view mirror.
The conventional mirror in the Evoque gives drivers a 25-degree viewing angle through a small rear window opening. A quick flick of a switch on the mirror doubles the field of vision, giving drivers a panoramic view.
Using the mirror is freaky at first, but helped by a 1.7-migapixel camera working at 60 frames per second.
If you have ever carried passengers in the rear or had a load that blocked your rearward vision, this is the solution you have been looking for.
Even with the high-end fittings one would expect from a luxury vehicle manufacturer, the Evoque punches above its weight, with a cabin that is both warm and inviting and bristling with cutting-edge technology.
Three customizable high-definition glass touchscreens offer up all the digital information and images one could want, and more. The controls are a delight to the touch and, apart from one or two items, intuitive.
The only odd part was a lid for the cupholders. Unlike most vehicles, which have some sort of hinge, the lid is removable. If you use the cupholders frequently, you are expected to toss the lid in the glovebox.
While the Evoque offers power outlets and USB points, it does not offer wireless charging capability — a very common feature these days.
One last point: The panoramic roof lets in oodles of light, but is fixed. It has a power sunscreen, but if you were looking for a bit of ventilation or the sun on your head, you’re out of luck.
The 2010 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque is the vehicle to beat if you are looking for a urban, yet rugged, luxury vehicle. While it has never been known as an innovative vehicle in the past, the incorporation of the new high-tech vision aids firmly puts the compact five-seater in the driver’s seat for years to come.
THE SPEC SHEET
Type: Luxury compact five-door crossover. Front engine, all-wheel-drive
Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, 246 hp at 5,500 rpm, 269 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,300 rpm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Dimensions (mm): Length, 4,371; width (mirrors folded), 1,996; height, 1,649; wheelbase, 2,681
Curb weight (kg): 1,784
Price (base/as tested): $51,500/ $66,620 (includes $1,700 freight, $495 PDI and $100 AC tax)
Options: Satellite radio $500, Meridian sound $950, ClearSight rear-view mirror $475, 20-inch wheels $500, panoramic roof $1,300, power steering wheel $510, fog lamps $200, passive keyless entry $600, cold climate package $670, surround cameras $800, luxury pack $720, 16-way seats $1,500, metallic paint $800, leather seats $1,700
Tires: 235/50 R20 on alloy wheels
Fuel type: Premium
Fuel economy (L/100km): 11.8 city/ 8.7 highway
Warranty: Four years/80,000 km new car and roadside assistance