Change of heart

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 three­door) 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 eye­wa­ter­ing.

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 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 sixspeed 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 of­froad rub­ber.

There was an­other hi-tech fea­ture that the es­tate pre­cluded test­ing. All-Ter­rain Progress Con­trol (a $460 op­tion in

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