Range Rover's Evoque makes a lot of sense in PHEV guise. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
It seems a long time ago now that the Range Rover Evoque rather lagged behind its lifestyle premium SUV rivals when it came to engineering tech. The MK2 model was launched in 2019 with mild hybrid electrification built into most of its four cylinder 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol and diesel engines. And built upon a new 'PTA' ('Premium Transverse Architecture') platform designed to also allow for plug-in hybrid (though curiously, not full-EV) technology.
It's the Plug-in hybrid version of the Evoque we look at here. The Solihull maker's existing Ingenium four cylinder 2.0-litre petrol unit was too old to be converted to a PHEV format, so a completely fresh three cylinder 1.5-litre Ingenium turbo petrol engine had to be created for it. A huge engineering effort's gone in to bring this variant to market. How does it stack up?
Mated to an eight-speed auto gearbox, this model's three cylinder 1.5-litre engine puts out 197bhp, its efforts further aided by a 107bhp electric motor mounted on the rear axle which delivers AWD capability and creates a total system output of 296bhp, with 540Nm of torque. The electric motor is powered by a 15kWh lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack. The Evoque PHEV is the quickest variant in the line-up, able to manage 62mph from rest in just 6.1s and reach 84mph on electric power alone. Above this speed, the electric motor is decoupled to reduce drag and the car reverts to front wheel drive. Obviously, if you use this model's reserves of performance too often, you'll very quickly deplete the all-electric driving range, WLTP-rated at 41 miles.
The 1.5-litre engine has been designed with an optimised exhaust gas flow system which improves turbo response and Land Rover claims that there's no refinement downside with the switch to a three cylinder format. Finally, the brand reckons that the PHEV system's seamless control between the front and rear axles makes this plug-in variant even better than a conventional model off the beaten track. Certainly, you'll damage any direct rival if you attempt to take it anywhere near what this little Range Rover can do 'off piste'. That's thanks to 212mm of ground clearance, 600mm of wading depth capability and an evolved 'Terrain Response 2' driving mode system which sets the car up perfectly for the type of ground you're travelling over.
Design and Build
As you'd expect, beyond the badgework there are virtually no visual differences between this PHEV model and the standard Evoque. Often with PHEV models, we're told that there are 'no packaging compromises' but in this case, that really seems to be true. The exhaust, for instance, has been packaged down the side of the car, giving the engineers room to insert all the necessary power electronics without intruding on passenger room or boot space. That also meant that the development team were able to use the whole width of the car for the PHEV battery and the fuel tank - which is why the fuel tank size (57-litres) is unusually large for a plug-in hybrid model.
Another reason why passenger space isn't compromised here is that the rear axle's electric drive unit slots between the integral-link rear suspension and needs no physical propshaft. Basically, everything's under the car, so the overhangs and ground clearance are exactly the same as in a normal Evoque. And it's still possible to have a spare wheel, which is unusual in a PHEV. If you're not familiar with the usual version of this second generation Evoque, though the exterior styling is quite familiar, you'll find the cabin layout very different thanks to the introduction of a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and, on plusher versions, the option of a pair of centre-dash 10-inch 'Touch Pro Duo' screens. There's comfortable room for a couple of adults in the back and the 'wet' boot capacity is rated at 591-litres (floor-to-ceiling) - or 1,383-litres with the rear bench folded.
Market and Model
Prices for this 309hp Evoque PHEV sit in the £44,000 to £50,000 bracket and there's a choice of three core trim levels, 'S', 'SE' and 'HSE', each of which can be upgraded to 'R-Dynamic'-spec for an extra £1,500 more. To give you some range perspective, those figures represent a premium of around £3,000 over the nearest equivalent conventional petrol model, the 300hp P300 variant. If you happen to be looking at the core diesel Evoque model, the mid-range D180 (which has just 180hp but comparable levels of torque to the PHEV), the premium for an upgrade to plug-in motoring would be around £4,000.
All versions get LED auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers, alloy wheels of at least 18-inches in size, ambient cabin lighting, dual-zone climate control, and a heated windscreen. Plus perforated leather, electrically adjustable front seats, an infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, auto dimming on the side mirrors and rear-view mirror, and traffic sign recognition with an adaptive speed limiter.
If you can move further up the range, 'SE'-spec gives you high-beam assist headlights and 'sweeping' LED indicators, plus 20-inch alloys, extra power adjustment and heating for the front seats, an interactive driver display, an electrically powered tailgate and a parking pack that includes a rear traffic monitor. Finally, 'HSE' trim upgrades the leather upholstery and brings a 380W Meridian sound system, the brand's 'ClearSight' rear-view mirror camera, gesture control for the powered tailgate, adaptive cruise control and a different finish of 20-inch alloys.
Cost of Ownership
Let's reaffirm the WLTP cycle stats that may well sell you on the idea of running one of these: 32g/km of CO2, up to 201.8mpg on the combined cycle and a 41 mile all-electric driving range. That emissions figure means a notably low Benefit-in-Kind taxation rating of just 6% for the 2020/2021 year. The charging port for the Samsung-sourced 15kWh battery pack is on the rear wing (on the opposite side to the petrol filler flap) and charging from a 7kW garage AC wallbox can be done from 0-80% in 1 hour and 24 minutes. DC fast-charging (up to 32kW) can reduce this 0-80% fill period to just half an hour. Charge from a domestic 3-pin plug via a Mode 2 cable and the process will take 6 hours and 42 minutes.
The PHEV model's engine is 37kg lighter than the Evoque's conventional 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol unit and works with extremely low levels of internal friction. Incorporated within the PHEV system is a belt-integrated starter-generator, which allows energy regeneration whilst braking or coasting. The Aisin auto gearbox helps out too, saving 5kgs of weight over the ordinary model's ZF-sourced 9-speed auto. As usual with an Evoque, a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty comes as standard, with further extensions available if you want them.
This is more than just an extra Evoque derivative. Everything here represents new technology for the Land Rover brand - mechanicals, software, the lot and it's taken the company around four years to create everything from scratch, then decide how it should optimally function with the vehicle control systems that work in harmony with the front and rear axle in this MK2 model Evoque.
We're extremely impressed by the end result, an uncommonly well developed piece of PHEV engineering. Yes, there's a premium to pay over a conventional 2.0-litre petrol version of this car, but we think it'd be well worth paying. In any case, you'd get most of that extra outlay back over a typical ownership period in terms of running cost and taxation savings, plus stronger end residuals. Whether this P300e model makes more sense than a diesel Evoque might be a harder call to make and will depend on whether you can really make a new-era charging regime work as part of your daily commuting life. If you can and you like the idea of this little Range Rover, this variant is well worth a serious look.