Turbocharged compact crossovers are one thing, but luxury-laden versions are where it’s at, in my opinion. Why spend all this money on a brand new car, and not get a fat dollop of leather thrown in for good measure? Maybe it’s just me getting old, but cars like the Range Rover Evoque HSE sure as hell look more inviting every time one drives by, and while its styling has undoubtedly evolved and its price tag remains more manageable than ever before, it’s what’s beneath the bonnet that captures my interest. So what if it now has full-LED adaptive headlamps and three new alloy wheel designs, all-new front and rear seats that are complemented by three new interior colors, a new infotainment system that runs on an 8-inch touchscreen, and it can be outfitted with 15 option packages? Without a bad-ass driving dynamic, this car would be just another pricey CUV.
But the Evoque is anything but ordinary; look at its various bodystyles, which include both coupé and five-door outlines, and a new bumper that looks far more masculine, with its enlarged lower air intakes alongside those slimline LED fog lamps. The air intake now resides above the front numberplate for safer and better air channeling, and all HSE Dynamic derivatives now feature a geometric hexagonal design finished in Narvik Black as the over-sized mesh area increases airflow to the Evoque’s advanced engine.
Working our way past the 15 different alloy wheel options in 17- to 20-inch fitments, a new tailgate spoiler and high-level LED stoplight retain a sleeker appearance than the outgoing model, as new roof fins allow the car to turn into a rolling Wi-Fi hotspot. So go ahead, grab one of the 13 eye-catching exterior color choices, you can still have any of them contrast with three available roofs for an unrivaled two-tone look. If for whatever reason this is still not enough, the HSE Dynamic edition can be outfitted with the “Black Pack,” which includes bonnet and tailgate lettering in Narvik Black, new black Xenon or full LED head, tail, and fog lights, and special 20-inch alloy wheels. Even the tow points and exhaust get a black finish.
Utilizing InControl Touch technology, the Evoque’s advanced interior interface comes as standard equipment, all while two distinctive seat designs, each with three different materials, is available with four increasingly sophisticated levels of adjustment. From six-way manual adjustment for both driver and passenger, to luxurious 14-way electric memory seats with four-way lumbar support and fully adjustable bolsters for those with sensitive spinal columns can now be had, as this CUV continues to have us covered when it comes to comfort.
Customer configurable interior mood lighting includes Ultra Violet, Amberglow, and Racing Red themes, while lighting coverage throughout the cabin is enhanced courtesy of lighting beneath all armrests and door stowage areas both front and rear. But for all you ninjas out there, a stealth mode is available to reduce cabin illumination to a minimum if desired, all while massaging front seats add additional comfort, with five massage programs offering various levels of back stimulation. The HSE Dynamic model remains the one to get though, as it offer a unique ribbed design on its Oxford leather seats, has textured aluminum trim inserts, and a choice of either Ebony, Ivory/Lunar, Ebony/Pimento, Ebony/Vintage Tan, or Lunar/Ice in addition to the full range of HSE interior packages.
On to the power department, where a choice of two lightweight, four-cylinder turbocharged engines await. Ignore the diesel for now, because today we are only interested in the high-pressure direct injection, low-friction internal component-filled, stop-start technology, and smart regenerative charging of the 2.0-liter gasoline-driven engine. Available as standard equipment on the four-wheel drive model, the Evoque’s Active Driveline intelligently switches between two- and four-wheel drive, and for 2016, it supposedly has gotten even better at doing its job.
This all-aluminum, four-cylinder engine sports an advanced low-inertia turbocharger, high-pressure direct fuel injection, twin independent variable-valve timing, as twin balance shafts keep things running smoothly. Producing 240 horsepower and 250 foot-pounds of torque, this stout little unit is ready to tow or tackle (almost) anything you throw at it, and while it does hit sixty in just 7.6 seconds, the Si4 engine somehow manages to achieve 36 miles per gallon on the highway.
Redeveloped for 2016, the Evoque’s new front suspension subframe, revised rear bushings, and enlarged 17-inch front and 16.5-inch rear brake discs are all welcome additions to the chassis, especially since the Evoque still is a king when it is time to drive off-road. With its class-leading approach of 25 degrees, a breakover of 22 degrees, and a departure angle of 33 degrees on the standard body kit, the Evoque can confidently hit water depths of almost 20 inches, as a suite of advanced all-terrain technologies help everywhere else.
Attaching All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) to Land Rover’s legendary Terrain Response technology, the Evoque may now go at speeds lower than regular creep speed, and can be automatically maintained in challenging off-road environments where steep gradients, rough terrain, and low-grip levels make maintaining an ideal speed difficult. ATPC can be initiated either from rest or on the move, with no pedal inputs necessary other than releasing the brake pedal if the vehicle is stationary. From there, the driver simply enables or disables ATPC via a switch on the center console and inputs the desired speed via the cruise-control function’s steering-wheel-mounted controls. All that must be done is simply steer the vehicle to safety, and know that either the accelerator or brake will over-ride the system if required.
So go ahead and splurge if you like, because even though the convertible version is about as unusual looking as you might expect in real life, there is no doubting the capability and luxury found on the Evoque, as it continues to kick ass on a whole new level for 2016.