The style sensation now has more substance, courtesy of a new diesel shared with Jaguar
Jaguar-Land Rover's new "Ingenium" diesel is no slouch in Jaguar's swoopy XE sedan, but it borders on brilliant when re-plumbed, turned east-west and bolted on to all-wheel-drive gear in the Evoque.
Land Rover's new engine — its most efficient vehicle to date — is 20 to 30kg lighter than its predecessor, obliging JLR to revise the rear suspension for better balance though not, as it transpires, overall weight saving.
The 2.0-litre turbo, which shares 80 per cent of its parts with the XE's engine, can propel nearly 1700kg smartly and still claim 5.1L/100km or better.
The diesel comes in two states of tune, 132kW/430Nm as tested by CarsGuide and 118kW/380Nm.
As well as being a feel-good drive, the Evoque has had some cosmetic smartening up and 10 options packs, allowing owners to customise their ride.
"We didn't want to change the recipe too much," says program manager Nilesh Prajapati.
Front bumper and grille tweaks are not too hard to spot and are joined by bonnet vents (previously only on the three-door) on high-spec models.
The rear comes in for similar treatment, with a new-style spoiler and similarly subtle revisions. Among the tech tricks is "gesture control" — wiggle a shoe under the bumper and you get hands-free tailgate operation, useful given the height of the load floor. CarsGuide's efforts with the feet met consistent failure.
Trim levels match those of the Range Rover Sport: Pure, SE, HSE and HSE Dynamic. There are a dozen or more wheel and paint choices, priced from reasonable to eye-watering.
It's all about choice, is the JLR line and, as many have observed, if you see an Evoque in traffic that looks just like yours, you haven't optioned it up enough.
Easier on the eye is the InControl eight-inch touchscreen, which apes smartphone gesture operation and is rather more operable than the preceding version.
The 132kW version is a joy on freeway runs, ticking over on the posted limit at a mere 1500rpm, the peak torque threshold.
This is an Evoque you could get dirty.
This is one of the rare occasions when Australian drivers will note it's in top gear in the nine-speed ZF automatic, which carries over (there's a six-speed manual, not that many will specify it).
Other than under initial enthusiastic throttle, the Ingenium won't let on to occupants that it's a diesel. The surge for overtaking, abetted by the paddle-shifters, is most agreeable.
This is an Evoque you could get dirty, too. On greasy slopes on an English country estate, the Terrain Response selector set to mud and ruts, our upspec TD4 on 19-inch road wheels and tyres followed a Defender guide vehicle with high-lift suspension and massive off-road rubber.
There was another hi-tech feature that the estate precluded testing. All-Terrain Progress Control (a $460 option in tandem with the $1850 Active Dynamics) operates up or down slopes and can maintain the vehicle's speed down to 1.8km/h or up to 30km/h, particularly handy on sand or over boulders when the driver must concentrate on steering.
"One of our engineers developed the software," says Prajapati, "and instead of explaining it to me, he just threw me the keys and said, 'go and test it'.
"So I took it out on a test loop and it was stunning. I didn't use my feet to brake or accelerate, just steered over huge rocks. I ran out of bottle before the Evoque did."
Front or rear, the cabin is a plush place to be and the Range Rover family feel prevails. There is extra weight and cost in the new seats with optional massage function, while there is showbiz for its own sake in the cabin mood lighting,
Safety features are as per class standard, with seven airbags, blind-spot monitor, lane keeping assist, auto emergency braking and driver fatigue detection.
Much is made of the Ingenium line-up being an in-house clean-sheet design, built to meet Euro6 requirements at the company's billion dollar engine plant in the West Midlands.
In the Evoque, the company's sales champion, the TD4 diesels might put the stablemate Si4 petrol performer under pressure. Before even ticking the options boxes, there is a premium on the petrol variants, which are quicker, of course, but thirstier and dirtier.
There is also the matter of the Ingenium diesels to be fitted to the Discovery stablemate, not due for another 12 months. For those who want instant gratification, the Evoques enter Australian showrooms this week, with initial deliveries before Christmas.