Range Rover Evoque 2014 review

The 2014 Range Rover Evoque facelift brings new alloy wheels and a range of serious mechanical upgrades

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

With the new gearbox and Active Driveline, our car claims 11.4 per cent better fuel economy and a 9.5 per cent drop in CO2 emissions. And while the drop in running costs is welcome, the new gearbox offers a genuine step forward over the old one. It’s super smooth when you’re cruising, and even more involving when you’re enjoying a more spirited drive. Add in the new driveline tech and the latest Evoque is the best yet.

You’d be hard pushed to tell that this is the 2014 model year Range Rover Evoque. Aside from a different design of Land Rover badge and some new alloy wheels, the striking looks are exactly as they were when the Evoque first arrived two years – and 180,000 global sales – ago.

Instead, Land Rover has turned its attention to some serious mechanical upgrades, including one of the first applications of a nine-speed automatic gearbox in a production car.

 Range Rover Evoque in-depth review

The new gearbox replaces the six-speed auto across the Evoque range. with maker ZF claiming that the gearchanges are ‘below the threshold of perception,’ and it doesn’t take long to realise that’s a pretty accurate statement.

Rotate the gear selector into ‘D,’ and, on a gentle throttle, the Evoque moves off quietly and even more smoothly than before. There’s no gear display on the dash, unless you switch into manual mode, so you quickly lose track of the fact this car has so many ratios to choose from, and is shuffling up and down with extreme smoothness.

The main aim of the new gearbox is to boost efficiency, and you do feel it hurrying up the gears quickly to keep revs low – it rolls along at 30mph in fifth – and you do need to get used to the fact that when the car’s up in ninth, engine braking is minimal. In fact, the top three gears are very tall and the gearbox does adapt to your driving style, and will skip from ninth to fourth on hard kickdown with a jolt if you need to overtake.

The middle three gears make the best of the 237bhp petrol engine fitted to our car, and the gearbox responds very quickly to a flick of each paddle. The reason we tested this fast petrol model is that it’s fitted with another new feature – Active Driveline – which disconnects the rear axle above 22mph when you’re cruising, then reconnects it in 300 milliseconds, or fast enough so you’d never notice.

The system also includes a rear e-diff, which sends torque to the outer wheel when cornering. This is only on the petrol car at present, and is fitted in addition to the torque vectoring by braking system used by the whole Evoque range. It does help sharpen the Evoque’s excellent dynamics that bit further by tucking the nose into a bend when cornering hard. In fact it’ll be interesting to see how this compares with the Porsche Macan, due early next year, especially as the Evoque’s improved on-road manners are still matched by class-leading off-road performance.

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