First Drive

2016 Range Rover Evoque TD4 180 review

Land Rover continues to roll out its new Ingenium diesel engine, and next in line is the Range Rover Evoque. We drive the higher-powered manual version on UK roads for the first time.

Words ByRory White

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Land Rover has been busy rolling out its new four-cylinder 'Ingenium' diesel engine. We've already tried it in the Discovery Sport, but now it's the turn of the Range Rover Evoque.

The Ingenium unit replaces the Evoque's old 2.2-litre diesel and is available in two states of tune: 148 or 177bhp. Here we're driving the higher-powered 177bhp version, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. However, the manual will account for only around 10% of sales, with the vast majority of buyers likely to opt for the nine-speed auto option instead.

This new diesel engine is part of a wider 2016 facelift. There have also been minor changes to the Evoque's exterior and interior design, and it now has bigger brakes, a revised suspension, a new infotainment system and more safety kit, too.

What's the 2016 Range Rover Evoque TD4 180 like to drive?

A vast improvement on the old 2.2, that's for sure. In its more powerful state, you can feel its urgency from below 2000rpm, and at higher revs there's a usefully wide band of pulling power that's easy to exploit. The manual gearbox has well-spaced ratios, too, and its short, snappy action make it a pleasure to use.

The biggest improvement, however, is refinement. The new diesel engine is much quieter, even when pushed beyond 3000rpm, and it settles down to a relaxed 1850rpm on the motorway. You're likely to notice more vibration in this manual version than you will in the auto because most of it is felt through the gearlever, but very little can be felt through the steering wheel and pedals.

Steering the Evoque is still enjoyable. It's a reasonably quick set-up, but one with plenty of accuracy. Because the Ingenium diesel engine is lighter, the Evoque's suspension has been revised, and to good effect. It stays nicely upright in tight bends, and there's less nose-dive when braking hard. The brakes themselves feel more powerful than before, but maybe a touch too sharp for some tastes.

Our car was fitted with optional (Β£800) Adaptive Dynamics, which includes a Dynamic driving mode that firms up the Evoque's suspension, adds weight to the steering and sharpens the response of the accelerator pedal. It's a welcome addition, helping make the Evoque feel even more agile. Okay, so a BMW X3 feels even more alert on a meandering B-road, but there's definitely fun to be had.

The ride in this sportier setting is overly firm, though. In fact, even in Normal mode there's a firm edge to the way the Evoque rides over lumps and bumps, especially on our test car's standard 20in alloy wheels. At least its body manages to stay nicely composed after hitting these obstructions at all speeds. Up at a motorway cruise, those large wheels generate a noticeable amount of road noise, although wind noise never reaches unacceptable levels.

Of course, we couldn't test a Range Rover without leaving the road and venturing onto the rougher stuff. The Evoque might look sleek on city streets, but don't be fooled. It's seriously capable on challenging terrain, making light work of the deep water baths, severely rutted inclines and harshly angled obstacles. Sure, it's no Land Rover Defender, but it will leave most of its small SUV rivals stuck in the mud.

What's the Range Rover Evoque TD4 180 like inside?

There are no changes to the Evoque's dimensions, so like most of its premium small SUV rivals it accommodates two adults well in its front seats. The driver has a good range of steering wheel and seat adjustment (12-way electric came as standard on our HSE Dynamic test car). The Evoque gets redesigned seats for 2016, too, which provide good lower back and bolster support.

Our car was a five-door model, and opening the rear doors reveals reasonably good access to the rear seats, if ultimately not as wide as on the class best. Once in, two adults will find plenty of leg and shoulder room although, with a tall passenger sitting in front, their knees are likely to rest against the front seat backs. Three adults side by side in the back won't enjoy a long trip.

The boot has quite a high lip, but it's flush with the boot floor and the wide aperture helps further with loading heavy, bulky bags. There isn't much underfloor storage, though, and once split 60:40 the rear seats don't fold completely flat.

Cabin quality is hard to fault. The dashboard has an abundance of soft-touch materials, and this continues onto the sleek, redesigned door inserts. The switchgear for the climate controls feels slick and well damped, too, and a brand new 5.0in TFT instrument cluster works well with the standard multifunction steering wheel.

In the centre lies the Evoque's new touchscreen infotainment system, which in our HSE Dynamic car was Land Rover's Premium offering. Its 8.0in screen is brighter, crisper and is more responsive than before, but beyond the more clearly labelled home screen, the same cluttered menu screens still exist.

Importantly, getting connected via Bluetooth or entering a postcode is relatively simple, while Β£650 extra buys you the ability to review and control various functions via your smartphone.

Should I buy one?

When the Evoque was first launched back in 2011 we raved about its smart interior, superb resale values and decent handling, but its refinement and sluggish six-speed automatic gearbox let it down. Last year, it got the vastly improved nine-speed automatic it always deserved, and now with this Ingenium addition, it has a very good diesel motor too.

We're yet to try the lower-powered Ingenium in two-wheel-drive guise, but with that car's CO2 emissions of just 109g/km confirmed, it could well be the company car driver's choice. If this five-door all-wheel-drive Evoque's better practicality, performance and surprising off-road capability appeals, it's still a much better prospect in terms of refinement, emissions and fuel economy than it was before.

Rivals such as the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 offer stronger engines, even better build quality and more space for a similar price. However, to many, they aren't as desirable, and this new Ingenium Evoque now offers the refinement and running costs to sway more buyers.

What Car? says...

The rivals

Audi Q5

BMW X3

Range Rover Evoque TD4 180 HSE Dynamic 5dr manual

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

Price from Β£40,500

Power 177bhp

Torque 317lb ft

0-62mph 9.5 seconds

Top speed 124mph

Fuel economy 58.9mpg

CO2 125g/km