It was an unusual beginning to a test drive: navigating a narrow, winding gravel path in the grounds of an English castle with the windshield blacked out and only an image of two front wheels and a couple of colored lines on a dashboard screen as a guide. The point: a demonstration of the new-generation Range Rover Evoque’s ClearSight Ground View system that AE was first shown as an early R&D program in 2014. Now it is in production.
Three forward-facing cameras send an image to the screen of the area in front of and under the car, in effect making the hood invisible, helping facilitate negotiation of anything from rough terrain and steep off-road hill crests to tight parking spaces and high curbs. We managed to complete the gravel path challenge without attacking the castle, but with no regular forward view through the windshield, the test was a challenging experience to prove the system’s efficacy. It did but more practice was needed.
Another piece of new technology on the MHEV-supported AWD Evoque is a ClearSight Rear View Mirror with two modes: conventional mirror or displaying an HD video image from a rear-facing, roof-mounted wide-angle (50-deg) camera with a hydrophobic lens. Frame rate changes cope with high and low light levels. If the cabin of the Evoque is carrying a large, high load (or three very tall backseat passengers) it gives the driver an unimpeded view of the road behind. It can be used in any conditions, but requires acclimatization to accurately gauge distance to objects and following vehicles; as such, it provides a good safety asset.
Enhanced overall refinement was a key design and development target for the new Evoque, so a 2.0-L diesel—rather than one of the available gasoline engines—was selected for assessment of NVH performance. The most powerful gasoline engine delivers 296 hp, but the diesel we tested proved thoroughly convincing.
The car’s new PTA architecture and improved all-independent suspension deliver excellent SUV ride and (torque vectoring-supported) handling. And the cabin provides all the ambience expected of a premium compact, taking the rough (offroad) with the on-road smooth.Continue reading »