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Nosedive in the new-generation Range Rover Evoque – safeguarded by plenty of chassis-control electronics. (JLR) 

New platform, chic sheetmetal for tech-centric 2020 Range Rover Evoque

Hanging nose down in a premium compact SUV at the summit of what looks like a near-vertical cliff face—and being told to keep feet off the pedals and mind on the job—is how Land Rover likes to launch its new models to the media.

The latest is the new-generation Range Rover Evoque, loaded with luxury and lots of electronic safety systems to bring comfort, in every sense, to its driver. Obeying the confident instructions of off-road driving master Billy Hilton resulted in a totally-controlled slow-motion descent that emulated a dive bomber at its best.

Why do this in an SUV that is close to 100% likely to spend its working life in the city or cruising freeways? Just to show that such capability is there if ever it is needed—essentially the brand’s central theme. Range Rovers have been successfully demonstrating such multi-tasking in various forms for almost 50 years and the philosophy has proven remarkably successful. Just ask Jeep. 

Eight years ago, Design Director Gerry McGovern’s original Evoque brought a fresh and style-driven look to the SUV sector; Land Rover arguably states that the Evoque created the luxury compact sector. Sensibly, the high-design priority remains for the new 2020 Evoque, with only relatively subtle aesthetic tweaks—although every panel has been changed; door hinges are the only carry-over components.

But those panels wrap around a plethora of practical technologies, including JLR’s electrification-enabling, mixed-metal (various grades of steel plus aluminum) Premium Transverse Architecture. More than $1.25 billion was spent by JLR developing the car and its new technologies and the new Evoque is built at JLR’s Halewood, Liverpool plant, which has also seen huge investment.

Particularly significant new developments include 48-V mild-hybrid electrification (battery positioned beneath the floor) for both gasoline and diesel engines, with a plug-in hybrid-electric (PHEV) variant to come later this year. Interior space is said not to be compromised by electrification systems’ packaging. The PHEV will be allied to a 1.5-L 3-cyl. Ingenium engine and JLR asserts that all models will feature some form of electrification starting in 2020. 

The 2020 Evoque launched in Europe with a range of Ingenium 4-cyl. turbocharged diesel and gasoline engines. The U.S. market gets the 2.0-liter gasoline 4-cyl. with two different power levels, 246 hp and 296 hp. The only available transmission is a ZF-made 9-speed automatic. The higher-powered engine also incorporates the 48-V mild-hybrid system. Perhaps not surprisingly, Land Rover’s new I-6 gasoline engine is not planned for the Evoque. “A bit of a squeeze!” confirmed James Ragbourne, Engineering Manager for the new Evoque.  

“The PTA [architecture] is all-new,” said Ragmourne. “It includes a new front subframe; the previous Evoque had a steel perimeter frame which was quite heavy. Our new PTA frame incorporates cast aluminum and is very compact and stiff; cross-axle stiffness is much greater.

“As for the suspension,” he continued, “together with its adaptive dynamics, we have new aluminum lower control arms and advanced bushing technology with fluid-filled MacPherson Hydrobushes at the front. Other aspects include new knuckles and a brake system that incorporates a weight-saving aluminum hub.” 

The Evoque has a 21-mm (0.8-in.) longer wheelbase but is only a single millimeter longer at 14.3 ft. (4.37m) overall compared with the original model. Packaging has been improved and the PTA will be used for various forthcoming JLR models. Curb weight of an all-wheel-drive Evoque with the turbocharged gasoline 2.0-L 4-cylinder and automatic transmission is 1770 kg (3902 lb). 

Electronic torque vectoring is fitted and driveline-disconnect technology switches to only rear wheel drive in the cruise, AWD being triggered as grip (or lack of it) conditions require. The Terrain Response 2 system detects and reacts to surface changes ahead of the vehicle; the system provides comfort, sand, grass-gravel-snow, plus mud-ruts user-selectable settings.

“Refinement transformation” 

Enhanced refinement was a key design requirement for the new Evoque.

“There is a huge transformation from the previous car,” said Ragbourne. “We spent a lot of time isolating occupants from road noise, the new rear suspension (integral link separates lateral and longitudinal forces to enhance body control) helping to move inputs into stiffer areas of the body.

“The Evoque has a very stiff bulkhead and we also focused on engine mounting performance to ensure we reduced the amount of transferred sound,” he continued. Body-in-white stiffness is very high and helps enormously to reduce squeaks and rattles—and we worked very hard reducing materials’ interface noise sources.” 

Maximum wade depth is 600 mm (23.6 in)—up by 100 mm (3.9 in)—with wade sensors in the door mirrors monitoring water depth. Ground clearance is 212 mm (8.3 in). Hill Descent Control (great for dive-bomber emulation), Gradient Release Control and All-Terrain Progress Control worked convincingly over a demanding off-road course.

Complementing all this, Land Rover claims as a “world first” its Clearsight Ground View, which uses cameras positioned in the car’s front grille and exterior mirrors to give a dashboard touchscreen (Evoque has dual screens) view of the ground immediately ahead and beneath the vehicle over very difficult terrain, cresting sharp off-road upgrades or, in the city, high curbs and tight parking slots.

Another aspect of enhanced visibility is an adaptive rear-view interior mirror linked to rear roof-mounted cameras that transforms via manual selection from a regular image to a wide-angle (50o) HD video presentation of what’s behind. There is an additional lengthy list of electronic safety nets and driver support technology. 

Evoque connectivity includes a 12-in (304-mm) fully-configurable digital display for the driver; AppleCarPlay and Android Auto for seamless smartphone integration and Software Over the Air enabled, allowing customers to update their infotainment remotely without involving a dealer. The Evoque is the first Land Rover to use AI algorithms to learn driver preferences that include seat position, music and climate settings and steering-column angle. 

“Technical” textiles 

The Evoque’s plush interior makes use of “technical” textiles that use recycled plastics as premium alternatives to leather. A eucalyptus textile produced from natural fibers is an option.

Also used is Kvadrat, developed by Danish specialists and described as a high-quality material that combines a durable wool blend paired with Dinamica, a technical suedecloth produced by the Italian company Miko. The faux suede material is produced from a combination of recycled polyester and polyurethane fibers and also is 100% recyclable at the end of its lifecycle. 

Up to 33kg of natural and recycled materials are used in the Evoque, including recycled plastic bottles. JLR has revealed details of a project to recover aluminum from existing Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles and reform it into new high-grade aluminum to create new cars. The process is being tested on Jaguar I-PACE electric-vehicle prototypes that have had their batteries removed. JLR also is developing a second-life process for batteries.   

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