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A new chapter opens for Range Rover with the arrival of a new Evoque, the premium SUV marks a major milestone for the company and it follows on from the 800,000 sales worldwide enjoyed by earlier models. Almost everything is new with the exception of the door hinges which have been carried over from the previous model.

Not only did I have the opportunity to drive the newcomer both on and off road but also to witness first hand production at the former Ford plant at Halewood. There is also a production facility in China to serve that market. Every ninety two seconds a new Evoque rolls off the production line in an environment dominated by robots!

Sales will be throughout 170 countries and almost eighty five percent will be left hand drive versions. Of course the real test of any new model is when you take the driving wheel and immediately I sensed the improvement over the outgoing model. Quite a challenge for all at Range Rover to deliver and follow on from a vehicle which has enjoyed some ten years of success. At first glance many may not see the change as the newcomer has a profile akin to the outgoing model. New standards of refinement, capability and sustainability have been achieved, however, and the end result is simply the best to date. One of the keys to success has been the employment of new architecture technology which delivers a smooth, quiet and refined drive. The new platform offers a wide choice for the future and it is certainly a key feature and looking forward electrification is going to be important.

My drive choice was a D240HSE R-Dynamic which delivered power aplenty, rest to 100kph (62mph) in less than eight seconds and on to a top speed of 225kph (140mph) where legal. Roadholding is a key element of the new model. In fact, I would describe it as sports like, and no doubt this will be welcomed by many. There is the choice of two or four wheel drive, but why you would ever choose a 2WD defies me with such a vehicle. With 240bhp at the command of my right foot and the slick nine speed automatic transmission, which is manufactured in North Carolina, the drive is thoroughly rewarding. Engine choice comprises of a range of efficient three-and four-cylinder Ingenium petrol and diesel engines and a mild hybrid-electric power, 48-volt MHEV and a three cylinder PHEV. All of the Range Rover family are famed for their off road capability. Okay, the Evoque does not have the same aids as other models, however Innovative Terrain Response 2 technology meets your needs from the urban to the rural environments. Keeping in touch and with the new Evoque you will reach your chosen destination, you are connected everywhere, Apple CarPlay connects you to your smartphone, 4G Wi-Fi hotspot connects you to the internet, while In Control Remote connects you to the vehicle, so certainly no complaints in this area. Styling is very “Range Rover”-  in fact the new Evoque is more than ever a baby Range Rover, I really applaud the exterior and more than ever there is a luxurious crafted interior which offers a calming sense of wellbeing to driver and fellow travellers.

I was critical of earlier versions re lack of space for rear seat passengers that has largely changed as the wheel base has been extended; overall the new Evoque is larger. A world first, ground view technology making the bonnet invisible, while a high-definition video screen revolutionises the rear view mirror and self-learning smart settings employs artificial intelligence algorithms to learn driver preferences and readies the cabin for your journey ahead. All very clever. Very important for most people is versatility and the larger glove box and centre cubby can now fit tablets, handbags and bottles with ease. Further good news luggage space is ten percent larger yielding 591 litres, is much wider for easier access for example a set of golf clubs etc, fold the rear seats and hey presto 1,383 litres to work with. The engineers at Range Rover will be delivering more in the coming months as the new architecture has been developed for electrification, with a48-voltmild-hybrid (already noted), a plug-in hybrid model will be offered. The initial line up is seven models, two or four wheel drive with power outputs ranging from 150-300bhp. My test example had an array of options, no surprise. The new Evoque is a winner in all key areas and must rank as one of the most desirable small SUVs currently available

Ian Lynas

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