Evoque uncovered: New era

* Range Rover Evoque on sale September * The best Evoque stories from What Car? archive * From concept car to production...

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What Car? Staff
13 July 2011

Evoque uncovered: New era

The starting point was the Land Rover Freelander platform. The Evoque has the same 2660mm wheelbase as the smallest Land Rover, but shorter overhangs mean it occupies 147mm less road. Its also 100mm lower and 16mm narrower.

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. Its 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. Weve taken 120 to 130kg out of the car versus Freelander, but weve got a stiffer body, despite having less mass, thanks to greater use of high-strength steels.Theres an aluminium bonnet and roof, plastic bumpers and a plastic tailgate, and aluminium components in the suspension.

Exterior detail photos of the Range Rover Evoque
> Range Rover Evoque 1
> Range Rover Evoque 2
> Range Rover Evoque 3
> Range Rover Evoque 4
> Range Rover Evoque 5
> Range Rover Evoque 6
> Range Rover Evoque 7
> Range Rover Evoque 8The Evoque will be powered by a new 2.0-litre petrol engine and upgraded versions of the Freelanders 2.2-litre turbodiesel. Theres no hybrid planned, but Dietsch says it would be possible if there was a demand. At this stage our hybrid plans are more focused on our larger vehicles, but the technology will be portable.

The petrol engine is a new 237bhp variation of Fords 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.

Therell 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. Were still working out the fuel economy, but it will be around 50mpg.

McGovern's big plan for Range Rover
The arrival of the Evoque will be the start of greater differentiation between Land Rovers and Range Rovers, says the companys 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. Were 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 well still be renowned for it.

We dont have to shout about capability. Our customers want some glamour as well.We know exactly where were going with the Range Rover now, he adds. Weve already done the next Range Rover and weve almost finished the next Sport.

Were about a year away from showing you where Land Rover is going. Were clearer about what we want Range Rover to be than we are with Land Rover, but design has to play a greater role.