One of the key characteristics of the smaller, lighter Range Rover Evoque is that it's no "cute ute" or "soft roader" but has the off-road chops to defeat most any terrain. It's not that surprising, then, that the baby Range Rover spawned yet a Dakar-bound rally racer, the Desert Warrior 3, the first of which recently reached its final racing team.
Aside from sounding like a new Xbox game, the Desert Warrior 3 keeps most of the look of the Evoque but replaces almost everything beneath the skin. Instead of the Evoque's 240-hp turbocharged I-4 engine, the Desert Warrior 3 uses a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged diesel engine that makes up to 350 hp (depending on states of tune and regulations regarding restrictors) mated to a six-speed sequential manual transmission. While the diesel engine should help with fuel economy, the Desert Warrior 3 also carries a ridiculous 69 gallons of fuel on board, enough for 746 miles in between fill-ups.
As one would expect with racers of this kind, the Desert Warrior 3 has a full tube chassis (which RaBe Race Cars, the DW3's manufacturer, claims was tested over the course of three Dakar rallies) underneath its Evoque exterior panels. Perhaps its craziest feature, however, is its suspension – the Desert Warrior 3 has a coilover suspension courtesy of Reiger, but this setup has a few tricks up its metaphorical sleeve. The Reiger system uses a corner control valve to stiffen the suspension on the outside wheels in a turn to reduce body roll (which also allows drivers to use softer roll-bars), and a rebound control valve to change the speed at which a wheel drops depending on if it's on- or off-road. Its lateral control valve can change the suspension's behavior depending on if a wheel is pushing up or the chassis is pushing down (the difference between hitting a bump and driving through a hole), and the hydraulic progressive double piston reacts differently to quick-damping situations than slow-damping ones (the difference between hitting a quick series of ruts or a larger bump). The result, RaBe says, is a more comfortable car with Dakar rally-grade endurance characteristics.
From here, the car will go into the FIA Off Road Rally Championship in 2013, where the Excite Rallye Raid Team will campaign one, then two, Evoque-based Desert Warriors. Eventually RaBe and Excite hope to campaign three cars in the infamous Dakar Rally in 2014. We wish them (and Land Rover, by proxy) lots of luck.