From 1992 to 1997, I was living and studying in Kobe. I was already very much interested in cars then as a young kid, and thankfully that was the time when Japan's car industry was doing incredible things. Skyline, the Evos, and the many 2-door sportscars were common sights on the road.
But beyond sports cars, one model that stuck out in my mind was the Mitsubishi Pajero. In the '90s, there was the second generation Pajero available as a long-wheelbase 5-door and in short-wheelbase 3-door form. But there were two more Pajeros at the time, both of which were smaller than the 3-door version: one was the Pajero Junior (styled as Jr.) and the other was the Pajero Mini.
Those two Pajero branded models were mechanically unrelated to the Pajeros we know but sold very well because of the capability available from such small machines. The Jr. (which became the iO in 1998) and Mini were both based on the Minica, with the Pajero Mini being the Kei-car model with a 660cc engine. And given that even the Mini had four-wheel drive, you can already imagine it going head to head with the Jimny.
Now you may be wondering why I'm going on about Pajero in a review about a Range Rover. And the explanation is simple: they've been doing something very similar by diversifying the iconic Range Rover nameplate.
In the beginning, there was the Range Rover; by that, I mean the O.G. Range Rover. Land Rover was the manufacturer, and they had a variety of models like the Freelander, Discovery, and Defender, but the top in terms of luxury was the Range Rover.
That has, of course, changed. First, they split the Range Rover line by adding the slightly smaller Range Rover Sport that is now on its second generation. They even now have the Range Rover Velar, which is slightly smaller than the Sport and competing in a class that includes the Audi Q5, BMW X3, so on and so forth.
Perhaps the biggest departure from the traditional Range Rover came in 2011 when Land Rover revealed the Range Rover Evoque. It is by far the most scaled-down version of the Range Rover at just over 4.3 meters but borrows many of the same design cues that make the brand unique and recognizable.
While the Evoque had a lot of detractors at the start, it was truly a success story for a company that needed one; just three years before the company was acquired by Tata, and remade together with another British marque as Jaguar Land Rover. And that brings us to the second generation model, which we're driving now: the Evoque R-Dynamic HSE. Those three letters in Land Rover parlance stand for High Specification Equipment, meaning it's loaded with bells and whistles.
The look isn't too far detached from the first-generation model. Actually, I needed a photo of the previous one to clarify what the changes were. The front was changed, with a revised front bumper, slimmer headlamps, and a grille that isn't as rectangular as before.
The side hasn't changed much either; the greenhouse is slim and kicks up slightly from front to back. The wheel arches lost the tab for the black liners. The wheels are huge at 20 inches, but that's expected of an HSE model. Perhaps the most notable change on the side of the vehicle are the door handles, as these now retract to sit flush with the sheet metal; quite a neat parlor trick.
The rear gets tweaks, but not too much. The taillights now appear connected by this wider bar with Range Rover neatly spelled out within. The rear bumper seems to have received a change, too, with what is seemingly a more mature look with that silver trim and integrated exit holes for the exhaust. The bumper looks oddly shaped because of the way it has been chopped. It's clearly because designers were going for a better departure angle for enhanced performance when ascending slopes; this is a Range Rover after all.
It's hard to tell how the vehicle has changed size-wise, but it has grown slightly in all respects. The Evoque HSE R-Dynamic is now 4371mm long (+6mm), 1996mm wide with the mirrors folded (+31mm), and 1649mm tall (+14mm). The wheelbase also grew to 2681mm (+21mm). That explains why the turning circle got a bit bigger at 11.6 meters (+0.3 meters).
For those interested in off-road angles, the approach angle of this R-Dynamic is 19.5 degrees, and that's expected of a crossover. The departure angle (thanks to the slanted rear bumper) is at 30.6 degrees which is actually better than several PPVs in the market. What surprised us is that the Evoque can now wade through a maximum water depth of 600mm; Land Rover was only claiming 500mm for the previous generation Evoque.
The interior of the Evoque is still very familiar, but not quite. Perhaps this is the best way to describe the cabin: adjustments. The driver window control panel now kicks upward, which is a nice touch. The dashboard gets a mild reshape with a slightly wider center stack and center console. They modernized the interior by updating things here and there, but they didn't want to do too much; that's a pretty common trait with luxury automakers.
The most significant changes include the steering wheel (with those really nice control panels) and the screens. The instrument panel is now a screen and the infotainment and the climate control panels are all likewise screens which Land Rover calls Touch Pro Duo. The infotainment unit looks fantastic, and it tilts forward when you power up the vehicle. We're not quite sure if it has Android Auto and Apple Carplay because I generally don't plug into the USB. It does have Bluetooth and has fantastic sound coming out of the Meridian sound system.
The lower screen is the one that is curious because it's what you use to control various vehicle functions. It houses the climate control, but also the Terrain Response 2 system. If you're familiar with many modern Land Rovers, then you'll know what this is about as it allows you to load some settings to optimize the Evoque for the surface in front of you.
There are many more features, particularly for safety, for us to talk about in one go, but one thing I really like is the Clearview off-road monitor. Essentially, it uses cameras to allow the driver to see under the hood as if the engine wasn't there. That gives you a ridiculously good view of the surface, something very useful when on tricky terrain; it's like you're spotting for yourself.
The front seats look great and are wrapped in Windsor leather, though the cushioning is a bit firm for my liking. Maybe over time, it'll soften up. The rear seats are likewise very nice, and there's surprisingly a good degree of legroom for such a small vehicle. I also liked the two-tone black and red color scheme for the upholstery; I've always been a fan of black and red as a color combination. The only thing that sticks out to me is the windows. Given that the roof tapers downward and the beltline tapers upward, there's not much left for a window so it may feel a bit constricted at times and on long drives.
What surprised me the most was the cargo space. Now I wasn't expecting much given the size of the Evoque, but the loading area is actually quite wide; you'll be able to get something about 40 inches (or a little less) wide between the wheel arches. If you fold down the rear seats, you've got a space that's 62 inches long. That's quite respectable for a vehicle of this size. Land Rover says it can accommodate up to 472 liters of cargo (dry, meaning things like boxes) with the rear seats occupied and up to 1156 liters (dry) with the rear seats down.
What makes this Evoque different from many of the models we drove before is the powertrain. The important thing to know is that the power unit is a hybrid, albeit a mild one. The engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged petrol engine which -if left to on its own- would produce something like 250 PS and 365 Nm of torque if we're going by the numbers of the non-MHEV petrol turbo version. But because Land Rover fitted it with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system (meaning a belt starter generator with lithium batteries), this Evoque has 300 PS and 400 Nm of torque.
The other important bit to know is that it's a transverse-mounted engine. The full-size Range Rover and the smaller Velar both have their engines longitudinally, but not this one. That means the Evoque has a powertrain orientation that is more closely related to a front-wheel-drive vehicle, but this is still all-wheel drive as a proper Range Rover should be. The transmission is a 9-speed automatic.
In terms of performance, Land Rover says the Evoque MHEV can do 0-100 km/h in 6.6 seconds, though mostly we were getting 7.1 seconds on our GPS performance meter. We can probably eke out more but I didn't see a need to go for it; the same goes for the top speed which is quoted at 242 km/h.
Handling is decent, but not really exciting. Steering isn't going to give you a lot of feedback, but the braking and weight management are good. The acceleration more than makes up for it though because this Evoque really is lively when you punch the throttle, so much so that I was really tanking my fuel economy most of the time.
In the city, I was getting just 12.7 liters per 100 km at an average of 22 km/h; that's just 7.9 km/l. I actually expected better figures because it's an MHEV and I didn't switch off the engine start-stop system. Still, that's what their own screen stated; given the current domestic situation, I wouldn't be doing my normal full tank to full tank tests.
The first time I drove a full-size Range Rover in the city years ago, I was quite nervous for two reasons. One was that the vehicle was so huge; it was almost 5 meters long and 2 meters wide, making maneuvering in the city challenging even if you were sitting so high up. The second reason was the cost of repair if I dinged it; that would have easily exceeded my monthly pay at the time.
But with this smaller Evoque, there's none of that. Of course, we like the commanding presence that the full-size Range Rover gives, but the maneuverability of the much smaller Evoque in urban traffic and tight side streets makes life so much easier. And the presence of a 360-degree sensor package and a 360-degree camera system does make driving here a breeze. Still, if I dinged it, repairs won't be cheap either.
The Evoque MHEV is fun in a straight line, comfortable, and very modern, but it does have quite a few limitations given the design considerations, and the mild-hybrid -as with many other similar systems- is too mild to make a real difference. I would have wanted to take the Evoque further like on a light trail but the timing of my drive of the Evoque wasn't great because of the stricter quarantine. I don't doubt its capabilities; I just wouldn't expect OG Range Rover capabilities.
There are better options in the market depending on what you're after, but where I think the Evoque impresses is really in the looks. Yes, the curb appeal of this Evoque is second to none. I think of it like a nicely tailored suit; the look is the same, but it's the finer details that really make it distinct and really make it pop in a sea of more-of-the-same premium crossovers.
The exercise in downsizing is indeed interesting. Like with the Pajero decades ago, Range Rover expanded the brand appeal to a wider market that want badge but in a smaller and better-priced package. But the question that remains is this: at PhP 6,190,000, is it worth it?
That's a question only you can answer.