Range Rover has traditionally been the luxo SUV brand with the highest commitment to off-roadability. That makes the Evoque crossover-coupe all the more of a departure. Its design is definitely style first, utility second, and its dynamic emphasis leans very much toward on-road dynamics. That just shows how the world is changing. But the luxury angle is very much intact.
The Evoque will be a third model for Range Rover, fitting below the stately, eponymous RR and the Range Rover Sport. It goes on sale mid-2011 at prices running about $40,000-$50,000. A five-door with the same wedge silhouette will follow half a year after.
The Evoque is a dead ringer for the Land Rover LRX concept from the Detroit Show in 2008. The sheetmetal surfacing has been rounded a little, but other 'concepty' aspects-proportions, stance, 20-inch wheels, even most of the external jewelry -- have survived pretty much intact.
Under the hood, there's a new 240-hp version of Ford's Ecoboost four. Given its direct gas injection, twin variable valve timing, and twin balance shafts, it should serve up highly competitive performance and economy numbers, while suffering little refinement compromise over a six. And it weighs 90 pounds less than the Freelander's I6.
Because the concept-car look has been carried into production, earlier reports that the Evoque is a top-hat job on the Freelander 2 platform are wide of the mark. The subframes and much of the floor plan are new, so that the engine sits lower (for better dynamics) while ground clearance is higher. The rear floor is new, otherwise back-seat occupants, who sit lower, would have had no foot space.
To save weight, there is far more high-strength steel in the shell, and a magnesium cross-car beam behind the IP. The suspension arms and wheel knuckles had to be redesigned to allow a wider tread and sufficient articulation with the 20-inch wheels. Engineers took the opportunity to change the material to aluminum to cut more weight. The hood and roof are aluminum, and the fenders and tailgate plastic.