We test the successor to a former SUV of the Year winner
The first-generation Evoque not only democratized a brand once almost exclusively defined by its associations with royalty and the rich, but also made it OK to drive a Range Rover that never put a wheel off the road. The Evoque’s high-style sheetmetal was designed to nudge the brand away from a relentless focus on off-road capability and toward a flirtation with fashion. And it worked: With about 800,000 sold since 2011, the original Evoque became by far the most successful vehicle ever from the automaker that created the luxury SUV genre. The redesigned 2020 Range Rover Evoque has big shoes to fill.
The second-generation Evoque’s exterior is a smoother, sleeker, more reductive take on the original’s pert proportions. And the coolly minimalist interior looks and feels much more haute couture, unambiguously sharing both design cues and technologies with bigger, more expensive Range Rovers. The 2020 Evoque is also the first to use JLR’s Premium Transverse Architecture (PTA), a mixed-metal platform constructed of regular and high-strength steel, aluminum, and magnesium that’s been designed to package 48-volt mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains.
The wheelbase is 0.8 inch longer, but shorter overhangs mean the overall length is unchanged. The MacPherson strut front suspension is attached to a die-cast aluminum subframe and features hollow cast front knuckles and fluid-filled bushings to reduce high-speed vibration. At the rear is a multilink suspension shared with the bigger Velar. More compact and sophisticated than the current Evoque’s setup, it has allowed the rear load area to grow by 6 percent—big enough to hold two golf bags—while improving ride and reducing transmitted road noise.
On paper, JLR has ticked all the boxes. On the road, however, the new Evoque doesn’t quite deliver on expectations. The 2020 Evoque First Edition P250 is a case in point.
“First Edition” denotes a marketing package that brings together features and equipment JLR expects many early adopters will order. In the case of the 2020 Evoque, that means privacy glass, LED headlights, 20-inch alloy wheels with a sparkling diamond turned finish, and a panoramic roof with contrasting black paint. Inside are 14-way heated front seats with memory trimmed in black and gray leather, plus an electrically adjustable steering column and Meridian audio system. All for $57,845 USD.
You’d have to spend just over $60,000 USD to get a top-of-the-range Evoque R-Dynamic HSE with the same hardware. A good deal, then? Not exactly.
The First Edition P250 is, for all intents and purposes, an R-Dynamic HSE with one important difference: That P250 badge means it’s powered by the 248-hp, 269-lb-ft version of JLR’s 2.0-liter Ingenium turbo-four. All other R-Dynamic Evoques, even the entry-level S, which is priced from $47,595 USD and has the same copper-accented body kit as the First Edition, are P300s, powered by the 48-volt mild hybrid variant of the same engine that pumps out 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
The P250 powerplant doesn’t endow the 4,300-pound (1,950-kg) First Edition with stellar performance. Although it revs happily enough to 6,500 rpm, throttle response below 2,500 rpm is slightly doughy, which means you have to keep it spinning for optimum response, especially in fast-moving freeway traffic. On a winding two-lane, you’ll need the shifter flicked into Sport mode and will have to fan the paddles to keep the Evoque hustling along.
Acceleration from 0 to 60 mph took 9.0 seconds in our testing, with the quarter mile covered in 16.8 seconds at 81.3 mph (130.8 km/h). That’s performance about on par with, er … a Subaru Crosstrek. Mind you, the P300 powertrain, which includes a 14.7-hp belt-integrated starter-generator, is no rocket ship, either. More power and torque might shave nine-tenths of a second off the P250’s 0–60 time, but even so, an R-Dynamic HSE Evoque takes 1.8 seconds longer to get there than a Mercedes-Benz GLC 300.
And it’s not just the powertrain that makes the Evoque feel a little leaden: The steering, though accurate, doesn’t give quite the same feedback as it does in the old model, a characteristic not helped by the inertia of the bulky steering wheel, which looks to have been lifted straight from the bigger Velar. On the plus side, the nine-speed automatic transmission feels smoother and more refined than in the previous model, and the brake pedal, while still a little soft, requires less travel to spur the four-wheel disc brakes into action. The chassis is pretty well balanced for a vehicle built on a front-drive architecture and with 59 percent of its weight on the front axle.
Although the stiffer body structure, new front subframe, and new rear axle means less noise and more refinement than before, the new Evoque’s on-road ride and handling is still on the firm and sporty side. A little too firm and too sporty, perhaps, especially given the powertrain’s languid personality; it would be nice to have a baby Range Rover with the plush, measured ride quality that once distinguished the brand from every other SUV on the market. Our tester was fitted with the optional Adaptive Dynamics and Configurable Dynamics systems ($1,070 USD in total), but even in Comfort settings it rode more like a hot hatch than a premium SUV, the low-profile 20-inch tires thwacking over manhole covers and road acne.
Not that many First Edition buyers will care to find out, but with 8.3 inches of ground clearance and 19.5-degree approach and 30.6-degree departure angles, the Evoque will confidently go further into the boonies than its rivals. And it can wade through pools of water up to 23.6 inches deep. Land Rover’s excellent Terrain Response 2 system, which rapidly optimizes the driveline to the conditions, plus All Terrain Progress Control, Hill Descent Control, and Low Traction Launch Control, are all standard equipment across the Evoque lineup.
Like its predecessor, the 2020 Range Rover Evoque looks, inside and out, as if it’s been driven straight out of the design studio and onto your local Land Rover dealer’s lot. It is, simply, a tremendously sophisticated piece of design, visually the best-executed compact SUV built on a front-drive vehicle architecture. But as an overall package it doesn’t move the needle like the original.
It looks more grown up, but the 2020 Evoque doesn’t feel more grown up. It needs more power, a more luxurious ride, and better fuel efficiency (the EPA numbers for the P250 powered Evoque—20/27/23 mpg (11.8/8.7/10.2 L/100 km) city/highway/combined—are worse than those for the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 with 2.0-liter turbo engines). And, as our experience during SUV of the Year testing last year showed, the infotainment system can still be buggier than a warm night in Tampa.
The 2020 Range Rover Evoque First Edition P250 has the style. It just needs the substance to match.
|2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque P250 (First Edition)|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$59,215|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||2.0L/246-hp/269-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4,300 lb (59/41%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||172.1 x 75.0 x 64.9 in|
|0-60 MPH||9.0 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||16.8 sec @ 81.3 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||129 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.77 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||28.5 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||20/27/23 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||169/125 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.86 lb/mile|