Plenty of choices as diesel engine delivers extra class, TIM VAUGHAN writes
Style, substance, green cred and pose value combine in the compact-luxe SUV that has segment dominance as a reasonable goal.
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 to all-wheel-drive gear the Range Rover Evoque.
Land Rover’s new engine — its most efficient vehicle date is 20-30kg lighter than 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 118kW/380Nm.
As well being a feel-good drive, the Evoque has had some cosmetic smartening up and 10 options packs, which allows owners to customise their ride.
“We didn’t want change the recipe too much,” says program manager Nilesh Prajapati.
Front bumper and grille tweaks are not hard to spot are joined by bonnet vents (previously only on the three-door) on highspec models.
The rear comes in for similar treatment, with a new-style spoiler and similarly subtle revisions.
Among tech tricks is “gesture control” — wiggle shoe under the bumper you get hands-free tailgate operation, useful given height of the load floor. CarsGuide’s efforts with 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 has smartphone gesture operation and is rather more operable than preceding version.
The 132kW version a joy on freeway runs, ticking over the posted limit at mere 1500rpm, peak torque threshold.
This is one of 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 it’s a diesel. The surge for overtaking, abetted by 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 19-inch road wheels and tyres followed a Defender guide vehicle with highlift suspension 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 to 1.8km/h
up to 30km/h, particularly handy on sand over boulders when the driver must concentrate on steering.
“One of our engineers developed the software,” says Mr Prajapati. And instead explaining it to me, he just threw me keys and said, “go and test it”.
So I took it out on a test loop it was stunning. didn’t use my feet to brake or accelerate, just steered over huge rocks.
Front rear, the cabin is plush place be and Range Rover family feel prevails. There extra weight cost in new seats with optional massage function, while there is showbiz for its own sake the cabin mood lighting.
Safety features are as per class standard, seven airbags, blindspot monitor, lane keeping assist, auto emergency braking and driver fatigue detection.
Much is made of the Ingenium line-up being an in-house cleansheet design, built to meet Euro6 requirements at company’s billion-dollar engine plant in the West Midlands.
In the Evoque, company’s sales champion, TD4 diesels might put stablemate Si4 petrol performer under pressure. Before even ticking options boxes, there is a premium on variants, which are quicker, of course, but thirstier and dirtier.
There also the matter the Ingenium diesels to be fitted to 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. Style, substance, green cred and pose value combine in the compact-luxe SUV that has segment dominance as a reasonable goal. Leave the current tasty runout deals for try-hards.