Range Rover boxes clever to gear up Evoque’s appeal

Revised Range Rover Evoque gets a new nine-speed automatic to boost economy and cut emissions.

Revised Range Rover Evoque gets a new nine-speed automatic to boost economy and cut emissions. - Credit: supplied

A blink-and-you-miss-it update to Range Rover's popular Evoque hides an important weapon in reducing fuel consumption, says Iain Dooley of the Press Association.

No one, not Land Rover management, the media or buyers could have predicted the interest in the Range Rover Evoque when it was first launched.

The car was conceived to fill a gap below the more expensive Range Rover Sport, plus help aspirational buyers get on that first rung of the Range Rover ownership ladder.

That badge and the car's radical looks – for a Land Rover product – proved a big draw, generating long waiting list times and a desire to embrace a more stylish approach to compact executive sport utility vehicle motoring.

A few years on and the Evoque's looks have, impressively, stood the test of time – this is no fashion statement trinket but a genuinely different and stylish option than what's available from more conservative German opposition.

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But there's always room for improvement, and as Land Rover strives to reduce emissions and fuel consumption across its fleet, the Evoque can now be had with a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Although not alone in introducing more than the now customary six speeds, logic dictates more ratios allow for better matching of engine speed to conditions. If you get it right, the belief is that the engine is always running at an optimal pace because it's in the right gear.

Save for detailed changes to the design of the Evoque's exterior badging and new alloy wheels plus some new driver assistance safety packages, the wholesale switch from the existing six-speed auto gearbox to the ZF-supplied nine-speed 'box is an important update. Available for both petrol and diesel all-wheel drive variants, the real-world experience matches the company's claims you really shouldn't notice the gearbox's behaviour.

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The perception might be that the 'box will be constantly shuffling up and down the gears, but the reality is you're simply not aware of its actions.

The 2.0-litre turbo petrol model's progress is predictably swift and the turbo engine is kept on the boil thanks to the wider spread of ratios. At urban speeds you can confidently amble along in a high gear not using much fuel.

You should expect the same and more from the more frugal diesel, while the added torque should do much to further mask the already smooth gearchanges. However, if you do need to get a move on, the gearbox has a neat trick of skipping a couple of ratios to speed up your initial progress so you don't have to wait for time-consuming downchanges for that quick burst of acceleration.

Land Rover is making impressive claims for its new powertrain technology, with economy gains set to creep into double digit percentages and CO2 emissions down about 9%.

This benefits all buyers, and if you're a business user these improvements could be the incentive you need to put a diesel Evoque at the top of your shopping list. Factor in its contemporary looks, plush interior and impressive all-weather abilities and the detailed changes plus new fuel-sipping technology should keep the Evoque in the limelight for some time to come.

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