Land Rover freely admits that the Range Rover Evoque is used less off-road than anything else in its range, but nonetheless, Land Rover wouldn’t be Land Rover if all its cars didn’t maintain the brand’s 4x4 heritage.
For that reason, the firm claims that this second-generation Evoque is more capable than ever on cross-country terrain.
To prove this point, we were offered the chance to take the new Evoque for a brief drive in some disused tunnels in East London, where a host of off-road obstacles were set up to showcase how improved the Evoque is over its predecessor.
There’s plenty of new capability in the engineering of the car: Terrain Response 2, found on the Range Rover, is standard on the Evoque and gets an Auto mode which has the car choose the most appropriate mode for you (for example, sand or grass-gravel-snow). There’s improved Hill Descent Control and a 100mm increase in wading depth to 600m (which proved handy when descending into a swimming pool during our test drive).
What’s instantly noticeable behind the wheel is the new technology you can witness in the cabin to make off-roading more manageable.
Called Clearsight Ground View, it’s the realisation of technology seen in the 2014 Discovery Vision concept which essentially lets you see through the bonnet – and it’s a world first.
The system uses cameras in the front grille and the door mirrors to project a feed onto the touchscreen to show you what is underneath and in front of the car.
Remember that adrenalin that kicks in when you can only see sky going up a 45deg gradient? Well, now you can see what’s down the other side, thanks to the camera. In another view (quickly changeable on the touchscreen), you can see a 3D view of the wheels – something that not only works off-road, but also helps navigating high kerbs in cities – a challenge far more relevant for the majority of Evoque owners.
We tried both: the first view going up a steep ramp and the second to keep the wheels on a train track. It would take a while to get used to, but for our first try, it was faultless.
We’ll have to wait for a longer drive for broader impressions of the Evoque but a handful of things were evident at low speeds: the steering weight is well-balanced, the 2.0-litre diesel Ingenium is refined below 10mph and the steering lock is impressive. Plus, the Velar-inspired interior will win over many buyers, especially those replacing an old Evoque with a new one.