And if all of that sounds, well, a bit heavy? You’d be guessing right. Despite that mixed-metal construction, the 2.0-litre turbo petrol-powered Evoque P250 we tested was actually 66kg heavier than its like-for-like predecessor – but, more revealingly, also almost 200kg heavier than an equivalent Audi Q3 45 TFSI and more than 100kg heavier than an equivalent Volvo XC40 T5. Luxury costs weight, Land Rover would reply, as does genuine off-road capability, too. But that’s a lot of extra weight for any relatively compact car to carry around – even one with 212mm of ground clearance and 600mm of wading depth.
Suffice it to say, you can feel that weight in more than one facet of the Evoque’s driving experience – though not always as a detracting factor. The car has weightier steering, marginally more permissive body control, a longer-wave ride gait and more stable, dampened down handling than the last Evoque: in none of those ways by a lot, but enough to notice.
Land Rover has quickened the car’s overall steering ratio and calibrated its variable power assistance to help it into tighter corners quite discreetly but cleverly; but around the straight ahead that rack remains fairly slow, prioritising good motorway stability over a sense of handling incisiveness. This needed to be a relaxing car to drive over long distances – and it is.
The outright performance of the P250 petrol version, though, is a little bit underwhelming; if the Evoque’s mass is a problem for it anywhere, it’s here. The car is fairly swift in full stride but not in a way authoritative enough that most would guess they were driving a car with hot hatchback-level power.
Of greater significance is that the engine’s torque doesn’t seem quite enough to make it feel particularly effortless on the road. The engine doesn’t have the accessible muscle to keep the car’s nine-speed gearbox from becoming a touch hyperactive when you want to move along more briskly. You always seem to be at least two gearchanges away from the ratio you need in response to any biggish pedal input when you’re using ‘D’; less often so, perhaps, in ‘S’ – although in both cases, the transmission still seems a bit hesitant to get to the cog in question. Nine-speed automatic gearboxes are like that, you might say. Maybe so – but they’d have less cause to be, I’d estimate, when working with the sort of torquey diesel engine that is slowly being driven out of the mix in cars such as these; and very regrettably so.
Still – what a beautifully quiet, well-isolated turbo petrol engine the Evoque’s is, even when working hard; and what world-class refinement the car has gained in a broader sense. Even on standard-fit passive dampers, the suspension fillets and filters the road surface underneath its wheels as well as some luxury cars costing more than twice its price. It achieves that neat trick of remarkable suppleness and absorbency at such little cost – because the ride certainly doesn’t feel limousine-soft or wallowy. There is gentle but present progressive vertical body control apparent in response to any bump big enough to set the car’s sprung mass moving upwards; and yet so many of the smaller intrusions simply melt away behind you unperceived – and body control remains very respectable in any case.