Ever have a list of cars that you’d like to own one day? I know I’m dreaming big here, but the baby Range Rover Evoque has become a “one day” car for me. It’s luxurious, badass, and I just love the lines that make up the unique design. I mean, take a look:
The new second-generation Range Rover Evoque was launched in South Africa this week at the Jaguar Land Rover Experience Centre in Lonehill, which I got to attend. The venue is quite unique, it is one of two in the world (after Moscow) and the largest, but has proper 4×4 tracks that we got to test the new vehicle on, as with the I-Pace, but on different routes.
The vehicle is classified as a ‘compact luxury crossover SUV’, and is Land Rover’s fastest-selling model, with over 800 000 units sold globally. Land Rover says the new model has been built from the ground up, with the exception of the door handles we saw on the new Velar. They are flush and pop out when you unlock the vehicle, which has been referred to as “anti-hijacking” door handles.
The new model has narrow LED headlamps on the front and back, an updated grille, a new bumper with vertical cutouts. If you take a look at the previous and new model, you can easily tell them apart:
Inside the car
On the inside, it’s luxurious, minimalistic and completely digital, like we saw in the Velar, featuring recycled plastics. All your controls are accessible on a touch panel (climate control, drive mode, settings, seats), separate to the infotainment screen. The inside is also now larger, with 20mm more legroom in the rear of the cabin. The glove box is also bigger, and can hold tablets and handbags. If luggage space is a big deal, it’s now increased to 591 litres and wider, big enough for prams or golf clubs.
Night time off-roading
We got to put the Evoque through a bunch of tests at the JLR experience centre through various conditions, which proved how capable it is, and not just a ‘pretty face’. We used modes from the Terrain Response 2 system, which I’m familiar with, and covered extremely technical courses with uneven terrain.
The Evoque can also go through 600mm of water – ideal for Joburg’s roads when it floods. We also drove up a steep incline that felt a bit weird – like you were on a rollercoaster; and went through a side slope. Everything was done with the main LED lights switched off with the daytime lights on, but we were directed by instructors using glow sticks. Not something I’ve done before, but loved every moment.
Driving out of Joburg
We drove near the Rustenburg area during the day, and sitting in morning Sandton traffic – not too bad, to experience what the vehicle is made for; an urban setting. We had the opportunity to test the D180 2L turbo diesel (132kW with 430Nm of torque) and P250 2L turbo petrol (183kW with 365Nm of torque). A 221kW plug-in hybrid version will added to the range early 2020.
I enjoyed driving both cars but the diesel was quicker when you needed to overtake, something we did fairly often on the single lanes behind trucks out of the city. The D180 can do 0-100 in 9.3 seconds, and the P250 does it in 7.5 seconds.
As tall as I am, I had to adjust the seat so I could see properly out ahead because it’s quite large a vehicle. I didn’t get to spend a lot of time playing around with the digital instrument cluster on the driver side, I attempted to go into the settings but I couldn’t figure out how to toggle between what I wanted visible in front of me in time, while keeping my eye on the road. An extended period in the vehicle outside the launch would be better suited for that.
I liked the updated maps, normally I am not a fan of vehicle maps because they feel dated, when compared to Google Maps. It had the speed limits and cameras, which lane to be on, and traffic info. And there’s always a choice of switching to your smartphone with Apple CarPlay.
All the tech
The Touch Pro Duo infotainment system combines two 10-inch HD touchscreens; a 12.3-inch driver display that you can customise because it’s completely digital; and a full-colour head-up display. That’s a lot of displays! The vehicle supports Apple CarPlay; 4G WiFi hotspot up to eight devices (I’ve used these on previous Jag models, too); rear-seat tablet holders with charging function; and up to six USB slots, but it’s not standard. There’s also an InControl Remote smartphone app that you can pair to the vehicle for things like fuel range; locking and unlocking remotely; and setting the temperature before you get in.
My favourite feature
I left the best for last. The Evoque has a new optional feature that is a hybrid smart rear-view mirror that transforms into an HD video screen. Instead of using your own vision and a mirror, you can switch to the camera feed display that provides a 50-degree wider field of vision, so you can see everything… even the guy behind you picking his nose, at night! You can also zoom in and out of it or brighten it to your liking. It’s the coolest tech feature I’ve seen on a vehicle to date. If your visions is obscured, you can switch back to the traditional mirror – and in this mode you can check your lipstick haha.
Evoque D180 starts at R734 300 – R945 900 (First Edition)
Evoque P250 starts at R776 300 – R987 900 (First Edition)
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 13 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. ✉️ firstname.lastname@example.org