IT'S nine years since the Range Rover Evoque took the Scottish Motoring Writers' Association's 'Car of the Year' accolade – so can the newest version live up to that initial success?

Back then, it was quite controversial being, as it was Land Rover's first stab at a premium small SUV to build on its success with the 'big' Range Rovers and the Discovery.

It did pave the way, however, for a whole raft of launches targetting that sector with Audi, Volkswagen and BMW all weighing in with their own versions.

It's latest evolution centres around a new engine range. The Ingenium diesels have been impressing in range and performance already in Land Rover models, plus in some of the Jaguar ranges, so it's a pretty well-proven concept.

The two-litre four-cylinder version as in the test car makes full use of its 180hp turbo-charged power through an impressive nine-speed automatic gearbox. It was, of course, four-wheel-drive as befitting what rural people need ...though there is a two-wheel-drive version for the city 'hairdressers' of this world!

It also looks an d feels much bigger that the older model. Though it is only marginally smaller in its outer dimensions, it is inside where the real feeling of space has been created.

While it's often seen as the 'effete' member of the Range Rover team, that's really a bit of a red herring. Though it may sit slightly lower that the big boys, it does have the multi-option drive mode selector used on the more expensive SUVs. That means that it is surprisingly good off-road even though the suspicion might be that the vast majority of them never get 'their feet wet'.

The low stance does make it a pretty sharp handler, though, with some pretty impressive road manners to match its off road capabilities.

The Evoque’s latest exterior is bolder than before, featuring that solid 'wheel-at-each-corner' stance a stand-out horizontal graphic and distinctive headlamps up front.

This was the 'S' spec' which is just one stage above starter level. So on top of standard features like flush deployable door handles, LED and auto headlights, heated mirrors and windscreen, and front and rear parking aids, the 'S' add-ons included 18-inch alloys, perforated grained leather seating, 10-way electrically-powered and heated front seats and a 'Smartphone Pack'.

Performance wise, it's not outstanding, doing the timed 0-62mph run in nine seconds, 0 to 60 mph though it will get you close to 40mpg. That's down to a truly excellent nine-speed auto box, which also use the power when asked to.

The 190hp diesel fitted to the test car is probably the range's biggest seller, though there is a 150hp version also available, plus a 240hp Si4 petrol for those who can't take a diesel into a particular city centre (I'd think of no other reason to buy that option). It can also come as a 'mild' hybrid.

Inside, there's twin flush-mounted touchscreens hidden in the central dash and a twin-dial dash in front of the driver. These power up when the ignition button is pushed and there's just about every control needed kept within those.

Land Rover’s optional Clearsight rearview mirror is joined up with a rear-facing camera on the roof, becoming a full-width display via twisting the anti-dazzle knob on the bottom of the mirror.

So, although the Evoque price ratings start at £39,000, the test car's 'S' spec', plus extras, added about £10k to that. Which means that it really does live up to its 'Premium' tag.