Range Rover Evoque

Vital new diesel meets sexier styling

NATHAN PONCHARD

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

THE Pomsí brand divergence is definitely working.

While some feared that the soft-roading Evoque might erode the reputation of Land Roverís imperious Range Rover line as masters of high-riding, high-fashion 4WDs, the result has been the exact opposite. The Evoqueís role as a fashionable foil for the more uncompromising Rangie and Rangie Sport is unquestioned.

For 2016, it has been treated to techy new lights, new multimedia, lusher trims, tastier colours, a reshuffled model line-up and a brand new turbo-diesel engine.

The $51,995 Pure eD4 remains (as a 5dr-only, manual-only starter with a 110kW/380Nm Ingenium diesel), the sole front-drive Evoque. The AWD SE (replacing Pure Tech) is available in Td4 150 (110kW/380Nm) and Td4 180 (132kW/430Nm) turbo-diesel tunes, while the HSE (replacing Prestige) and new HSE Dynamic get the Td4 180. The HSE trim lines are the only variants offered on the 3dr Ďcoupeí, while the carryover 177kW/340Nm turbopetrol Si4 engine is offered across SE, HSE and HSE Dynamic models, solely with a nine-speed auto.

With the MY16ís striking full- LED headlamps and shapely running lights, the HSE Dynamic really steps up its game as a tantalising flagship Ė especially when sporting optional ĎAdaptive Dynamicsí suspension ($1850) and Black Design Pack ($4650).

As an SUV for affluent hipsters, it does a great job combining guardfilling 20s with robust damping that absorbs big hits effortlessly.

What doesnít gel so sweetly is the 177kW turbo-petrol and ninespeed auto combo. The engine has plenty of spirit, but it feels laggy off the line, then chirps the front tyres before drive is channelled to the rear. More progression in its response would be welcome.

Far more pleasant is the 132kW diesel. Thereís still a bit of lag from standstill, but itís strong enough to start in second gear, and will pull from as low as 1250rpm without gasping for boost. It shuffles through its vast ratio set smoothly and scores an impressive 5.1L/100km fuel number, though the frontdrive manualís 4.3L/100km is seriously brilliant. As is the Ingenium dieselís incredible twoyear/ 34,000km service interval.

While the SE 180 diesel on 18s canít have the HSE Dynamicís optional dampers, itís still capable of dynamic reward. Quick steering, neat balance and a decent ride aid agility, but the ESC is a little too keen on intruding.

For all its airs and graces, thereís something refreshingly egalitarian about the Evoque. At base level you get a surprising amount of car for the money, while at the upper end, only a Porsche Macan can match its style and class.

PLUS & MINUS

No turbo-petrol manual; tight rear seat; fiddly transmission dial Handsome and alluringly customisable; new diesel; ride quality

Ingenium petroleum

While many have wondered why it has taken so long for Jaguar-Land Roverís new Ingenium engine line-up to come on stream, replacing the diesel first was definitely a savvy move. Right now, the Evoque and Jag XE are the only two models with Ingenium (diesel) power, though the Discovery Sport will follow during the last quarter of 2016. The turbo-petrol Ingenium will eventually surface in all three, as well as the new-gen Jag XF, but thatís unlikely to happen in Oz before 2017.