Land Rover's Range Rover brand is celebrating the big 4-0 this year, and the new belle of the ball is the all-new 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, which is being previewed as part of the legendary off-road brand's birthday celebration. It's the smallest, lightest and most fuel efficient Rangie ever produced.
The new small Range Rover Evoque will launch in mid 2011. It is smaller than the Land Rover LR2, but is being positioned as a more sporting and more expensive vehicle that will slot under the Range Rover Sport.
The crossover will be available not only as a four-door but also as a two-door. The Land Rover LRX concept at the 2008 Geneva auto show wasn't a designer's fantasy: the production two-door is surprisingly close to the vehicle you see here. The production vehicle's interior will also take some inspiration from the concept, with typical Range Rover cues of strong 'structural' lines in the dash, intersected by straight lines of the center stack.
While the concept was badged as a Land Rover, the company decided to use the Range Rover brand for the production version of this premium vehicle. Although more luxurious and expensive, it is smaller, lighter and more economical than the LR2 by virtue of its taut design and short overhangs.
The company has announced that, for Europe at least, there will be a front-drive version of the vehicle, making it the first two-wheel-drive Land Rover in history. This diesel version, which is expected to employ a stop-start feature, will reportedly achieve fuel economy similar to a base Mini Cooper. But the majority of sales will no doubt be for the 4WD model, with an as yet unspecified gas-powered six-cylinder likely be the main engine for the U.S.
Roughly two years after the initial launch, a hybrid version will reportedly be added to the mix, using electric drive to the rear wheels. Land Rover says it can optimize this system for off-road use, because electric drive allows engineers to better calibrate torque delivery and traction control.
The new Range Rover will make its world auto show debut at the Paris auto show in late September.