The new Range Rover Evoque has a lengthened wheelbase and mild hybrid system for enhancing efficiency
Range extended: The new Range Rover Evoque The Range Rover Evoque has a 48-volt mild hybrid system, which allows it to harvest electrical power when the car is decelerating. ST PHOTOS: CHONG JUN LIANG

Range Rover has made its new Evoque more stylish, more spacious and more luxurious.

But it has not made it more refined on the go.

Design-wise, the car is sleeker, on account of its retractable door handles (first seen on the Velar), a more pronounced rear spoiler which blends with the car's darkened rear-quarter windows, slimmer tail-lights which extend more towards the rear doors, and longer front fender character strips.

The car's wheelbase is 21cm longer than its predecessor's, while all other dimensions remain largely unchanged. With a shorter front overhang, the new Evoque is even more coupe-like than the first-generation model.

The car also has more interior room, with most of the extra space going to the rear. This is good news, since the first car was a bit constricted in the second row.

Occupants are better pampered now. While the previous car was adequate, it lacked the polish and pizzazz of an upmarket product. In some areas, it still felt a bit like the outdated Land Rover Freelander.

But the new car is on a par with the competition. The second-row seats are designed to accommodate three, with a panoramic roof to make the cabin brighter and airier.

The air-conditioning system could have been more powerful, but setting it at 18 deg C will still cool the car down sufficiently on punishingly hot days.

Like most premium cars today, the Evoque has an elaborate array of features, laid out neatly on a streamlined dash. Practically every control is now accessible via its dual touchscreens. Its infotainment set can be connected to Apple and Android phones and the car's navigation set is one of the most useful and friendly on the market.

Terrain selection is also part of the black mirror menu, but there are only three items you need to click when you get on board: air-con recirculation, stop-start deactivation and Auto for the terrain modes.

The car is also equipped with adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping assist. Unlike most cars with the latter, activating and deactivating are a one-touch affair on the steering.

One unique feature is Clearsight rear-view mirror, which becomes a camera-projected image should your view be blocked by tall passengers or cargo stacked high.

Instead of a rotary gear selector, the car now has a slick joystick-style lever - sportier and more modern.

Moving on to the car's lower-thanexpected level of refinement. First off, the engine has a diesel-like chatter and requires high revs to get the car up to a trot. But it tends to stay at high revs momentarily after you have lifted your foot off the pedal.

This gives the impression of a stuck throttle or an unresponsive transmission. At times, you need to apply the brakes because of this. Thankfully, the brake pedal is light and very easy to modulate.

The car has a feathery ride, with long spring travel typical of the marque. While this may be desirable on gravel surfaces, it is not on tarmac. Ironically, the car does not negotiate speed humps as well as you might think.

On the plus side, the car's turning response is not drastically altered by its longer wheelbase and its turning circle is still fairly tight.

The Evoque has a 48-volt mild hybrid system, which allows it to harvest electrical power when the car is decelerating.

It is also supposed to be able to coast with the engine off. But this happens only at below 17kmh with your foot on the brake pedal. This is such a low speed that when you apply the brakes, the car comes fairly quickly to a halt. So no, we are not able to make it happen (even with stop-start activated).

But if you are happy with all the other improvements Range Rover has made, the Evoque is a pretty good buy at around $250,000.