First Look: 2012 Range Rover Evoque

Jeffrey Jablansky

North American Evoque models receive a 2.0-lite, turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine, sourced from Ford. In this application, the engine will produce roughly 240 horsepower, and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive is standard, and the system can distribute power between the front and rear axles through the electronically-controlled Haldex center differential. Land Rover promises the Evoque will be the most fuel-efficient vehicle in its lineup, although that claim may be usurped if a long-rumored Evoque Hybrid model joints the portfolio.

The improvement in fuel economy largely stems from stripping unnecessary weight. Engineers were able to whittle the Evoque's curb weight down to a svelte 3582 pounds by adopting a number of lightweight materials. Both front fenders and the tailgate are fashioned from plastic, while the hood, roof, and numerous suspension components are fashioned from aluminum. Other tricks, including the use of electric power steering, fitting low rolling resistance tires, reducing internal engine friction, and fine-tuning the exterior design to cut drag, also help cut both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Unlike other Range Rovers, the Evoque ditches air suspension in favor of a traditional coil-sprung setup at both ends of the vehicle. To enhance both on- and off-road ride performance, an optional Adaptive Dynamics system adds magnetorheologicaly-adjustable dampers -- similar to those fitted in high-performance Ferrari and GM vehicles -- to the mix. Drivers looking for the sportiest setting will likely dial the system to the so-called Dynamic mode, which stiffens the dampers, sharpens the steering, and elicits an ominous red glow from the cabin's mood lighting. A variety of off-road and safety-focused electronic controls are standard, including a new Corner Brake Control function, which distributes braking forces to maximize the vehicle's stability while cornering.

Land Rover hasn't released any price points for its latest model, but when the Evoque arrives in the United States next fall, it's going to be priced at around $45,000. We're more interested to see how consumers around the world take to the new Evoque. Presently, the vehicle is in its own niche, although a four-door model may compete with BMW's new X1 or Audi's rumored Q3. If Land Rover can convince shoppers in a market rife with crossovers that it can produce a small, luxurious, and efficient Range Rover, with the capability to go off-road, the Evoque will be regarded as a turning point for the brand, and a success story for its new owner.

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