In early 2008, at the Detroit motor show, Land Rover showed a concept car called LRX. The Company called it a ‘cross coupé’.
The first all-new Land Rover to be revealed since Gerry McGovern became the Company’s design director, the show car was designed to be capable of housing a variety of drivetrains, with the focus on a two-litre turbodiesel hybrid capable of running on biodiesel, and Land Rover boasted rather uncharacteristically of lightweight material technologies.
Range Rover Evoque.
It was clear that the car was destined for production.
The Range Rover Evoque is the LRX made real and, according to Land Rover, ‘makes a strong statement about the future direction of the Range Rover brand’. It will be sold in 160 countries, with deliveries beginning in the summer of 2011. Inevitably, some of the edgier details of the prototype have disappeared — notably, and fortunately, the lightweight polycarbonate windows — while the hybrid drivetrain isn’t with us yet. Design and engineering were carried out in Britain, and the manufacturing plant for Europe will be Halewood on Merseyside. We expect CKD production in China to follow before long.
Conscious that buyers of more ‘serious’ Land Rover products might think the Company has gone soft, Land Rover is very careful to reassure sceptics about the Evoque’s off-road capabilities: it has, apparently, ‘significantly better breakover angle, approach angle and departure angle than other premium compact SUVs’. We assume someone has checked. Nevertheless, there is a clear and understandable emphasis on the car’s behaviour on tarmac. There is talk of a ‘polished driving experience that combines dynamic and sporty handling with responsive, effortless performance and refinement’ — the sort of comments we’re used to reading about executive saloons. That’s not all. ‘Precise and responsive steering at lower speeds [make] the car nimble and fun to drive in the city.’ Is it a hatchback now? No: Land Rover is just being honest about where most Evoques will spend their lives. Even ‘enthusiastic drivers are offered the agility they want from a car’ — whoever you are, it seems, the Evoque is just the thing for you.
Range Rover Evoque, Range Rover Series 1 and BMW X3.
The Evoque’s four-wheel-drive transmission is a full-time system which continuously varies the front:rear torque split using a Haldex coupling. This is an electronically-controlled wet multi-plate clutch; its function is independent of the difference in rotational speeds between the front and rear wheels, so any degree of locking is available at any given time and road speed.
Particular objectives for Land Rover were to increase steering precision and agility at lower speeds compared with the Company’s earlier products — notably the Range Rover Sport — so that the car would be more responsive in urban driving conditions. The Evoque’s lighter weight — starting at around 1600kg at the kerb — more compact footprint and lower centre of gravity helped to improve agility compared with the Evoque’s big brother, but stiffening the steel monocoque and a more firmly-bushed approach to wheel location were also deemed necessary. Of note is the adoption of high-strength boron steels in the A- and B-pillars and the sills. Bodyshell features aimed at weight-saving include plastic front wings and tailgate assembly, aluminium bonnet and roof panels, a magnesium crossmember, and the use of aluminium for the front lower control arms and the front and rear suspension knuckles. The front-wheel drive Evoque is around 75kg lighter than the otherwise similar four-wheel drive version.
A full glass panoramic roof is available as an option. It is fixed in place, happily: the LRX show-car had a detachable composite roof that demanded a dedicated room in the owner’s home to house it. The unobstructed glass panel has a surface treatment to offer a high degree of solar protection. When additional shade or privacy is required, an electric fabric sun blind with a solar reflective coating can be extended across the full roof area.
Suspension is by means of Land Rover’s usual coil springs and struts front and rear. Power steering is a variable-ratio speed-sensitive EPAS system and is is set up for quick responses around the straight-ahead position. To improve precision and feedback, the steering rack is solidly mounted on the front subframe. Both front and rear subframes are acoustically isolated from the monocoque. Remarkably for a 4x4, low rolling-resistance tyres are specified.
Electronic damper control — Land Rover calls it Adaptive Dynamics — is available as an extra. It helps to juggle the priorities of ride and handling according to the conditions, using infinitely adjustable dampers. The Adaptive Dynamics system collects sensor outputs at a rate of 1kHz, monitoring the driver’s behaviour and the vehicle’s movements.
Land Rover’s Adaptive Dynamics system uses MagneRide dampers, which achieve infinite adjustment (between limits) by an unusual method. Instead of varying the cross-sectional area of a valve, the MagneRide units use damping fluid which contains magnetic particles. When the fluid is subjected to a magnetic field, the fluid becomes more viscous, thus increasing the damping. Although it’s virtually improssible in practice to provide infinite automated adjustment of a valve, stepless adjustment of a magnetic field can be achieved without difficulty. Compared to a conventional valve-based continuously variable damper, the MagneRide system can change damper settings much more quickly and has a wider operating range.
The company’s Terrain Response system is fitted as standard to the Evoque, providing electronic ‘tools’ to make off-roading easier.
Four engines are offered; all are four-cylinder turbocharged units. Three of them are revised versions of Land-Rover’s 2.2-litre diesel familiar from the Freelander: two (TD4 and eD4) deliver 150PS, the third (SD4) 190PS; all offer 420Nm. They use common-rail fuelling with piezo-electric injectors, a water-cooled variable-nozzle turbine turbocharger and a variable swirl system. The cylinder block is double-walled and twin balancer shafts are used. The eD4 variant, tuned for economy, is used only on the front-wheel drive Evoque.
The fourth power-plant is a new all-alloy 240PS, two-litre petrol engine known as Si4; it is turbocharged and directly fuelled, and features variable timing on both camshafts. The exhaust manifold is a thermally-insulating item fabricated from sheet steel. Like the 2.2 diesel, the Si4 block features twin balancer shafts.
All engines can be coupled to Land Rover’s AW F-21 six-speed automatic transmission; diesels fitted with the M66 manual gearbox come with a stop-start system. The petrol engine is not available with a manual gearbox.
The Evoque’s braking system is supplemented by the usual electronic support systems — anti-lock braking, electronic brake force distribution (EBD), emergency brake assist (EBA) and Corner Brake Control (CBC). The Corner Brake Control function is designed to prevent rear-end instability when the driver brakes in a corner. The system distributes brake force side-to-side for both axles.
The Evoque’s traction and stability system vectors driving torque or braking force according to driving conditions with the aim of maintaining traction at all wheels. Each wheel is monitored and controlled individually. The control unit takes outputs from all of the car’s motion sensors — measuring yaw rates and longitudinal and lateral acceleration — as well as information about vehicle speed, gear and clutch engagement, brake pressure, accelerator position and the settings of the hill descent and Terrain Response systems.
The full list of traction and stability systems is: Dynamic stability control (DSC), roll stability control (RSC), traction control system (TCS), trailer stability assist (TSA), hill start assist, hill descent control (HDC) with gradient release control (GRC), and engine drag torque control (EDC).
For off-road driving, Land Rover’s driver aids are collectively known as Terrain Response. This system uses a collection of functions to adapt the responses of the car’s engine, gearbox (if it’s an automatic), Haldex clutch and stability systems to match the demands of the terrain. The Evoque has four Terrain Response settings, selected using a control on the centre console: General Driving (on-road and easy off-road); Grass/Gravel/Snow (slippery conditions, on- and off-road); Mud and Ruts; and Sand. An additional Dynamic setting is available for cars specified with Adaptive Dynamics. To optimise safety and control on steep gradients, the Evoque also offers hill descent control (HDC) and gradient release control (GRC): HDC automatically restricts speed downhill using the anti-lock brakes; GRC is linked to HDC, and progressively releases the brakes on very steep or more gradual slopes, for maximum control.
Bosch’s 20cm dual-view touchscreen monitor is an optional extra. This device allows the driver and passenger to view different content; custom software allows physical switchgear to be made virtual. A single-view unit of the same size is standard.
Voice control provides ‘say what you see’ prompts in the instrument panel to help the driver input commands.
‘Infotainment’ includes hands-free mobile phone use through Bluetooth connectivity, which allows a compatible handset to communicate with the car’s built-in phone system. The phone can be controlled using the touch-screen or the steering wheel controls, and the system automatically downloads the latest phonebook contacts. The Evoque also supports Bluetooth audio streaming, so you can listen to music stored on your phone (or any other portable Bluetooth device) through the car’s audio system. Connectivity for iPods and other portable MP3 players or memory sticks is provided. The primary iPod functions can be controlled through the touch-screen. The sound system is made by Meridian, and its amp is rated at over 800W.
The Evoque is available with digital and satellite TV, DVD playback capability, a hard drive virtual 10-CD multiplayer, and DAB, FM, AM and Sirius tuners with a high performance twin-antenna system. For rear seat passengers, the entertainment package features 20cm video screens in the front headrests, touch-screen control and digital infrared wireless headphones. The car’s various radio and television aerials and telephone antennae are housed in the rear spoiler — just as well, as the shark-fin would be of Tatra proportions.
The electrical system features ‘smart’ battery charging with kinetic energy capture during deceleration, allowing the alternator to be taken off-load when the engine is working. The air conditioning system uses clutchless air compressors, saving weight and power.
Other equipment includes:
Park Assist for automated parallel parking: a motor on the car’s steering column operates the steering, with the blind-spot monitoring system and surround camera system providing the required information. The driver is required to operate the pedals.
The dual-zone automatic climate control features a Timed Climate pre-heating or pre-cooling function.
Hard-drive navigation system.
DAB, FM, AM and Sirius tuners, with hard-drive virtual 10xCD multiplayer.
Digital and Satellite TV, and DVD playback.
Rear-seat entertainment package, with 20cm video screens, digital wireless headphones and touch-screen remote control.
Keyless entry system and powered tailgate.
Adaptive headlamps with automatic dipping.
Heated windscreen, front seats and steering wheel.
The Evoque’s Surround Camera System uses five digital cameras distributed discreetly around the car to provide a 360-degree real-time view of the car’s surroundings on the touch-screen display. The driver can display the camera images independently or in combination. The rear camera can be used to assist with hitching and unhitching trailers; the tailgate camera is also designed to operate independently as part of the reversing camera system, which presents the camera image on the touch-screen display, with special graphics overlaid to show the current vehicle trajectory and the distance from any fixed objects.
Around 16kg of recycled plastic material is used in each car, for such parts as the headliner, seat covers, centre console, wheel arch liners, air cleaner, cooling fan and shroud, air ducting, side under trays, parcel shelf, engine cover and subwoofer box.
Morzine trim fabric used on the headlining and pillars is entirely produced from recycled polyester sourced from recycled bottles and fibres. ‘Pure’ models feature Dinamica trim material, which uses 100 per cent. recycled polyester in its construction. The recycled material is primarily sourced from post-consumer waste, so each car uses the equivalent of 35 full-size plastic bottles. Compared with virgin polyester, producing the recycled polyester fibre requires 64 per cent. less energy and has a 60 per cent. lower carbon footprint. (These are Land Rover’s figures.) Authentic metal interior finishes used on all models on the centre console and the facia strip are produced from 95 per cent. recycled aluminium.