If Paris is the home of trendy designs and chic then I suppose it’s not too much of a stretch to say that Range Rover is pretty much the equivalent in the motoring world.
The designs of their SUVs puts them well ahead of the pack, especially among the more traditional luxury brand manufacturers and even many more expensive exotics.
Which is where we found ourselves just off the Arc de Triomphe on a Saturday afternoon to drive the new Range Rover Evoque Autobiography P300e the following day.
But first because Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is a sponsor of the Rugby World Cup, with its more rugged Defender headlining the global showpiece, we were privileged enough to witness the quarter-final between the All Blacks and Ireland in Stade de France.
Not having any skin in the game meant we could enjoy the match as neutrals but I would have preferred the Irish to win mostly because their supporters are a lot more jovial and less grumpy than those of our arch-enemies on the rugby field.
A line of new Evoques standing in a line on a quiet Parisian street on a Sunday morning has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to it and when we were asked by a stylishly dressed French woman passing by if we would swop her current black Evoque for a Corinthian Bronze one in the queue, we figured JLR had got this one right too.
This 2024 Evoque has had some subtle exterior and interior upgrades including the plug-in hybrid powertrain.
The first generation was launched in 2011 to high praise for its design and even today’s second-gen model is a looker, having passed the test of time very well.
Having had that success JLR haven’t fiddled too much with it over the years and this one is no different.
The headlights are updated with the latest Pixel LED technology with four modules within each light, the front grille design is now more subtly aligned with its bigger siblings with a more horizontal approach, and there are bumper upgrades with the addition of two horizontal bars to the outer vent areas on the Dynamic SE versions upwards as well as the vent garnishes on the bonnet.
The rear has thinner lights that wrap around the rear quarter while the exhaust is no longer visible and the bumper has a curved diffuser in contrasting black with the flush-fitting door handles providing a clean surface to the smooth side profile of the Evoque.
The shark fin antenna on the roof incorporates a camera providing a live feed to the digital rear view camera.
Inside there are fewer buttons and dials and the dual-screen set-up in the outgoing model has been replaced with a 11.4-inch touchscreen and the instrument cluster is as you would expect, digital.
Almost all functions have been moved to the Pivi Pro infotainment system including the various modes with often used functions like climate control permanently displayed.
It’s logical to use although during our test drive it was easier for the passenger to scroll through while getting to grips with it while the driver focused on the situation around them but as an owner you’ll get used to it and your favourites will be one-touch away.
The hybrid Evoque’s battery energy density has been increased, extending the EV range up to 62 kilometres but expect a real world range closer to 46-48 kilometres.
Considering that much of its daily use will be urban, that's enough to cover most people’s daily commute.
It can use a 50kW DC rapid charger that will get to 80 percent in 30 minutes and a 7kW home charge should take just over two hours for a full charge.
Under the bonnet is a 1.5-litre three cylinder petrol engine providing a combined total system output of 227kW and 540Nm used either in default Hybrid Mode or Save Mode that prevents the battery from dropping below your chosen level and also invokes regenerative charging.
It’s propelled via an eight-speed automatic transmission using Land Rover’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive.
My driving partner had driven in Paris before so I opted for the first drive leaving Paris in EV Mode.
It moves along silently through the narrow streets including some cobble-stoned ones that allowed some road noise through via the 20-inch rims and low profiles with the suspension taking care of the extra weight as a result of the hybrid system.
Once we were out of the city and onto smooth tar the Evoque’s ride is refined and smooth and at higher speed the cabin is remarkably quiet.
As with all three cylinder engines, if you do push the pedal there’s a thrum with a slight edge to it that’s not irritating or intrusive but it’s definitely there.
It’s quite agile too around corners and hugs the tar well but this Evoque isn’t designed to scoot around, it’s not what it’s about or in its design brief. Dial it down and it comes into its own floating along comfortably on highways and smooth sections of roads between beautiful French villages.
The Range Rover Evoque Autobiography P300e may be the entry point into the Range Rover marque but don’t be fooled, this is very much a Range Rover in terms of quality and refinement.
It’s available in South Africa starting at R1,258 ,100 in D200 diesel form, while the P300 hybrid range starts at R1,647,900.