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Future models - Land Rover - Range Rover Evoque

Paris show: Evoque gets front-drive, EcoBoost engine

Smaller than it looks: The Evoque will be smaller than BMW’s X1 but is likely to be priced above the X3.

Official specs of baby eco-Rangie reveal high-class luxury and low carbon footprint

24 Sep 2010

THE Evoque, Range Rover’s first front-wheel drive model, will be powered by the same Ford-sourced 177kW 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine that will be added to the powertrain line-up of Australia's Ford Falcon next year.

The compact Evoque will also receive a 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit, to be available in 110kW and 140kW tunes, with idle-stop technology on variants fitted with a six-speed manual transmission.

Land Rover estimates that two-wheel drive diesels will offer CO2 emissions below 130g/km and sip less than 4.9L/100km, with four-wheel drive models still frugal at 5.6L/100km - and a CO2 figure below 145g/km.

The auto-only turbocharged, direct-injection EcoBoost petrol offering will provide “six-cylinder refinement and performance with four-cylinder fuel economy”.

Ahead of the Evoque’s global public debut at the Paris show on September 30, Land Rover Australia has confirmed that Australian-delivered models will be sold with both front and all-wheel drive and that we will get all three engine types - with both manual and (paddle-shift) automatic gearbox options for the diesel.

24 center imageLeft: Evoque Premium and its interior. Below: Evoque Dynamic.

Land Rover has also released the first official interior photos and details of the interior and specification levels of its upcoming compact luxury SUV.

It has been reported that in its British home market, the Evoque, which at 4350mm long is 104mm shorter than BMW’s X1, will be priced starting from £30,000 ($49,450) – just above the BMW X3 – and more than £8000 ($13,187) dearer than the Freelander.

Land Rover Australia says it is still too early to confirm how much the Evoque will cost when it arrives in showrooms Down Under this time next year, but will offer people visiting the Land Rover stand at the Sydney show an impression of “where the vehicle sits”.

In addition to the frugal engines, the Evoque will make use of CO2-saving technologies including low rolling-resistance tyres, regenerative braking, electric power steering and both manual and (Aisin Warner) six-speed automatic transmissions will use low-viscosity gearbox fluid to minimise drivetrain losses.

Inside, trim fabric will be made of recycled polyester derived from plastic bottles, which requires an estimated 64 per cent less energy to produce than virgin polyester and subsequently has a 60 per cent smaller carbon footprint.

The optional mist-sensing heated windscreen avoids needless activation, while clutchless air-conditioning compressors reduce engine drag.

The sustainability theme goes further still, with each car’s 1640kg kerb weight (40kg heavier than the heaviest BMW X1) including roughly 16kg of recycled plastic and 21kg of renewable leather, cotton, cardboard or rubber.

There will be three trim levels, with 'Pure' being the synthetic-trimmed base model and 'Prestige' being the almost entirely leather-lined luxury version featuring 19-inch wheels and chrome exterior trim to make it the version that most closely resembles the LRX concept.

The 'Dynamic' specification is most likely where Victoria Beckham’s influence on the design team came into play, with 20-inch wheels, an aggressive bodykit and contrasting colour for the roof and spoiler as a no-cost option.

The interior photos show the sumptuous and expensive-looking interior of the Prestige version, with double-stitched leather adorning almost every surface and the driver-selectable LED mood lighting emitting pools of colour around the cabin.

True to the LRX concept, there is a space behind the air-conditioning controls in a similar fashion to Volvo’s “floating” centre console but, unlike the LRX, there is no iPhone cradle.

Instead, there is a roller shutter cover for the centre cubbyhole and a Jaguar-style rotary gear selector that rises to meet the driver’s hand during the Evoque’s “choreographed” start-up sequence.

Trimming the sides of the centre console are “authentic metal finishes” made of 95 per cent recycled aluminium, which Land Rover claims are “cold to the touch and exquisitely crafted”, although they surely pose a burn hazard to shorts- or skirt-wearing occupants after the Evoque has been parked for a few hours in the Australian sun - especially if they forget to close the power-operated blind for the optional panoramic glass roof.

The driver’s controls combine “stylish uncluttered layout, state-of-the-art functionality and class-leading ease of use”, with an eight-inch, high-definition touch-screen dominating the dashboard and in trademark Range Rover fashion, using dual-view technology to offer separate screen content for driver and passenger.

The now de-rigeur Bluetooth/iPod/USB/Aux-in connectivity is present and correct, as is an 11-speaker, 380-Watt sound system developed in conjunction with Cambridge-based high-end hi-fi brand Meridian Audio.

However, audiophiles will no doubt tick the option box for a “breathtaking” 825-Watt, 17-speaker version of the surround-sound digital entertainment system.

Further entertainment options include hard-drive navigation and a virtual 10-CD multiplayer, digital TV with DVD playback and rear eight-inch screens with digital wireless headphones and touch-screen remote control.

More practical choices from the options list are automated parallel parking, blind-spot monitoring, a five-camera 360-degree exterior view system, full dual-zone climate-control, keyless entry with a powered tailgate and adaptive headlights with auto-dip. A heated windscreen, seats and steering wheel will appeal to those who live in colder climates.

Customers will also be able to specify active suspension with continuously variable dampers, similar to those fitted to high-performance cars such as the Audi R8.

The exterior styling of the Evoque makes it an almost identical “to the millimetre” twin of the 2008 LRX concept.

Strategically for the Tata Motors-owned company, the Evoque majors on “class-leading” sustainability but also serves to bring the Range Rover brand to customers who might not have previously considered buying themselves a Rangie on the grounds of size, running costs, environmental impact, image and, of course, price.

With its bang up-to-date styling and relatively small (150mm shorter than the Freelander) footprint on the road reflected by the size of its carbon footprint, Land Rover hopes every fashionista from Mosman to Toorak and beyond is going to have the Evoque high on their shopping lists.

To arrive at a production-ready Evoque without compromising the concept car styling, Range Rover engineers had to develop an all-new body structure and suspension subframes, using ultra-high-strength boron steels in the A and B pillars to keep them looking slim while maintaining strength and safety. Small touches like incorporating the radio aerials into the rear spoiler ensure a tidy exterior.

The lowest-slung Range Rover by a substantial 187mm, the Evoque has what Land Rover calls a “Sports Command” driving position and makes much of its “significantly better breakover angle, approach angle and departure angle” compared with other premium compact SUVs, to ensure that the brand’s off-road reputation remains intact.

To state the obvious, most Evoque kilometres will be made on urban, paved roads and Land Rover is keen to emphasise the work that has gone into honing its on-road driving dynamics.

Using the Range Rover sport as a handling benchmark, engineers aimed to deliver a more agile and connected experience for the driver. While the Evoque’s significantly reduced bulk provides a huge advantage in this area, the main objectives were to sharpen up the steering and low-speed agility to make the Evoque fun to drive in an urban environment.

With fully independent, long-travel coil-strut suspension linked to a stiff chassis and body structure, Land Rover claims to have achieved “handling responses which remain flattering and predictable, without any nervous reactions.”

With exports to 160 countries planned, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is hoping that the Evoque will mark a turnaround in the company’s fortunes and the wider economy. It cut 450 jobs from its workforce in January last year and struggled through the global financial crisis after negotiations over a rescue plan involving government-backed loans collapsed.

With 3211 sales so far this year in Australia, Land Rover is up 29.5 per cent compared to 2009 and the greener, more affordable Evoque, for which Land Rover has already received over 2000 expressions of interest on its website, can only serve to continue this upward trend.

Meanwhile, sister brand Jaguar is up 12.5 per cent year to date with 648 sales so far in 2010.

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