Evoque evolves

IT risks damning it with faint praise, but the most interesting new SUV to be launched in recent days is this, the second generation Range Rover Evoque

Range Rover Evoque

THE most interesting new SUV to be launched in recent days is this, the second generation Range Rover Evoque.

That risks damning it with faint praise, for this week has also seen the rather underwhelming release into the wild of some sort of new seven-seat jacked-up Seat which looks almost exactly like all the numerous other SUV-wagony-things that the VW Group is churning out.

The Evoque is the real deal, though. It more or less singlehandedly created the market for small, desirable and stylish SUVs when it was introduced in 2011.

Range Rover found it was really on to something as the Evoque's striking looks and unrivalled 4x4 credentials propelled it to the top of buyers' wishlists, with almost 750,000 built.

It has cast its influence over everything else that Land Rover has done since. That includes the Discovery, as featured elsewhere on these pages. And would there have been a Range Rover Velar at all if the Evoque had been a flop?

As it is, the Evoque has been wildly successful. Land Rover weren't about to tinker much with a winning formula, so the exterior looks very similar to the outgoing car.

Range Rover Evoque

Inside, quality is said to have taken a step forward and, as you would expect of a new model, there is a bunch of the latest infotainment tech and safety kit.

The three-door version has been dropped - almost no-one bought it - and a range of petrol and diesel engines, including three-cylinder units, will be offered alongside hybrids.

New Land Rover products traditionally feature innovative off-road functions, so the Evoque gets something called 'command visibility' which uses 'ground view technology' to, says the company, effectively make the bonnet invisible "by projecting camera imagery onto the upper touchscreen to show the driver a 180-degree view under the front of the vehicle".

The rear-view mirror can also turn into a video screen to show the driver a high-definition view of what is behind the car.

Order books have just opened, with prices starting at £31,600.

Range Rover Evoque

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