After 40 years of service to Queen and country, Land Rover under its new ownership (Tata Motors) is introducing an SUV scion to a new generation of loyalists and skeptics alike. Out with the urbane and “British green” trad and in with a rockin’ red-hued urban transport that Land Rover hopes is the new must-have crossover ride.
Introduced last year at Kensington Palace with high-octane music bumping through loudspeakers and paparazzi flashes, the Land Rover LRX concept car was realized and presented to the world’s media --with a little help from fashion designer (and footballer’s wife and former Spice Girl) Victoria Beckham -- as the new Range Rover Evoque, retaining its conceptualized design all the way through to production.
The model name says it all: Evoque, the ‘que’ continental spelling evokes the European driver’s wont for smaller car platforms, better mileage and the ability to drive and park on any major European city street, viz., London, Milan or Paris. The park assist parallel parking system on the Evoque is sans pareil, slotting the driver into the smallest of spaces with equidistant perfection. The name also hearkens back to the grand heritage of the nameplate, Range Rover -- a badge not given or worn lightly.
The Evoque comes in both 3-door coupe or 5-door versions. Both cars have an aggressive design, with lines that give the Evoque the appearance of moving even while sitting still. The headlamps up front wrap to an almost teardrop shape (it’s as if Ms. Beckham helped the Evoque with its eyeliner), and the imagery continues with window-lines that sweep narrow to the rear. This model seems to defy tradition and the snob, while seeking to attract the upwardly mobile American or the British yob. To help keep this 4-cylinder moving down cobbled lanes and the Pacific Coast Highway, Land Rover designers have added a turbocharger and have lightened the load considerably using aluminum for the body, making the crossover 35% lighter than the upperclassman Range Rover Sport. But, don’t let the small footprint fool you; there is more clearance on the Evoque than on the Land Rover LR2 as well. The Evoque attempts and succeeds in establishing an urban city design, while maintaining its off-road street cred.
The Evoque most likely will compete directly in this market segment with the BMW X3, Volvo XC60, the Audi Q5 and the Lincoln MKX. But, with a base price rumored to be about $45,000, the car will clearly price some buyers out, while becoming the entry vehicle for other drivers desiring an “affordable” Range Rover. This crossover ute really may be the vehicle to help aspirational owners finally “crossover” into the luxury brand, marking a new époque for Land Rover with its new Range Rover Evoque … that is until sister company Jaguar releases their version rumored to be happening 2013.