Land Rover's crystal-ball department reckons the global lux 'ute market is going to expand by 35 percent over the next five years, and it wants a big bite of this widening slice of profit pie. How best to get it? Expand the Range Rover brand while shrinking its footprint, both physically and environmentally.
This could have been accomplished lickety-split and on the Tata-Nano cheap by pounding the LR2's sheetmetal into the shape of the similarly compact LRX concept vehicle, but thankfully, that's not how the new Indian parent company rolls. No, the LRX is being developed into the Range Rover Evoque the hard way--by reimagining every detail to perform in a way that befits its bucks-up branding, while remaining faithful to the popular concept car's initial design and packaging.
First, the basics: The Evoque will be available in the U.S. as a two- or four-door, with the two-door seating four or five passengers. In place of the LR2's Volvo-designed 230-horsepower, 234-pound-foot I-6 is a Ford-built 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injected engine good for 237 horses and 251 pound-feet. (It was developed alongside the Explorer's EcoBoost mill.) Power flows to the ground through a six-speed automatic transaxle and a standard Haldex Gen-IV all-wheel-drive system. Other markets will get the option of a 2.2-liter diesel that can be teamed with a manual transmission, auto start/stop technology, and front-wheel drive for max fuel economy.
The Evoque's architecture is loosely based on the LR2's Ford EUCD platform (Volvo S60/S80), but only a few floorpan and front crash-rail stampings are common in the bodywork, and the upper rear strut mounts are the only common chassis bits. The wheelbase is 0.1 inch shorter, while the bodywork shrinks 5.1-5.5 inches in length and 4.1-5.3 inches in height. (Width grows by 2.3 inches.) An aluminum hood, plastic fenders and tailgate, and extensive use of boron and other high-strength steel alloys help shave 128 pounds out of the bodywork. Figure in aluminum suspension knuckles, a magnesium dash-support beam, and the smaller engine, and the Evoque weighs in about 600 pounds lighter than the 3.2-liter I-6 LR2. Extensive aero tuning lowers the drag coefficient to 0.35, while the frontal area shrinks by 4.7 square feet -- all of which, along with electric steering assist, a smart-charging alternator, a transmission that shifts to a virtual neutral at idle, and low-rolling-resistance tires should make this the least thirsty Land Rover product ever, by a long shot.