‘We had lots of discussions about where we were going to start,’ says Murray Dietsch, the chief programme engineer on the Evoque, who has since become head of programmes for the entire company. ‘In the end we decided to use Freelander architecture, but to modify it. It’s 70 to 80% different from the Freelander.’
Those modifications include a completely new front subframe for the suspension, redesigned front suspension turrets and a redesigned rear floor. One effect is that the Evoque, although primarily designed as more of a city SUV than a full-bodied off-roader, has 12mm more ground clearance than the Freelander, despite a 27mm lower floorpan.
‘We left no stone unturned to make sure this would be the smallest, lightest, most fuel-efficient car we had ever produced,’ says Dietsch. ‘We were determined to really turn up the wick on fuel economy. We’ve taken 120 to 130kg out of the car versus Freelander, but we’ve got a stiffer body, despite having less mass, thanks to greater use of high-strength steels.‘There’s an aluminium bonnet and roof, plastic bumpers and a plastic tailgate, and aluminium components in the suspension.’
The petrol engine is a new 237bhp variation of Ford’s direct-injection, turbocharged Ecoboost unit from the Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy. Land Rover will rename it GTDi and link it to a six-speed automatic gearbox taking drive to all four wheels. The two versions of the diesel produce 149 or 188bhp, and there are six-speed manual and auto ’boxes and the option of front-wheel drive.
‘There’ll be stop-start with all manuals, and it will appear on the autos in time,’ says Dietsch. ‘The two-wheel-drive diesel manual will have sub-130g/km CO2 emissions, our lowest ever. We’re still working out the fuel economy, but it will be around 50mpg.’
The arrival of the Evoque will be the start of greater differentiation between Land Rovers and Range Rovers, says the company’s design director, Gerry McGovern.
‘Range Rover is becoming a maker of luxury products. The challenge for us now is to redefine what Land Rover represents. There is a slight contradiction between how it is seen and the premium-ness we want it to have. We’re going to have to give it a different emphasis,’ he says.
When McGovern took over as design director in 2007, one of the first things he did was to reorganise the design bible the company had adhered to since being formed in 1948. ‘The old design philosophy had its roots in functionalism,’ he says. ‘My concern was how to expand the footprint of the brand and differentiate Land Rover from Range Rover while giving them more relevance in a changing world.
‘In some markets like the USA, our traditional design is seen as low-rent,’ he says. ‘The [more glitzy] 2010 model-year Land Rovers and Range Rovers were a first step to changing that. If we never mention off-road capability again we’ll still be renowned for it.
We don’t have to shout about capability. Our customers want some glamour as well.‘We know exactly where we’re going with the Range Rover now,’ he adds. ‘We’ve already done the next Range Rover and we’ve almost finished the next Sport.
‘We’re about a year away from showing you where Land Rover is going. We’re clearer about what we want Range Rover to be than we are with Land Rover, but design has to play a greater role.’