Jour­ney starts here . . .

With the shape of things to come, writes Paul Pot­tinger

Herald Sun - Motoring - - What’s On -

THE stylised lines of the Evoque, Range Rover’s first pres­tige com­pact SUV, rep­re­sent the shape of ve­hi­cles un­der devel­op­ment, says its de­signer.

Land Rover de­sign di­rec­tor Gerry McGovern in­sists the rad­i­cal change of di­rec­tion sig­nalled by the ‘‘cross coupe’’ — re­vealed in Paris last month and a star of the Aus­tralian In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor Show at Dar­ling Har­bour — is ‘‘part of a jour­ney for the Range Rover brand’’.

The ‘‘game-chang­ing’’ Evoque is re­leased here next Septem­ber, priced from about $60,000.

‘‘We’re in the process of de­sign­ing a whole new gen­er­a­tion of Range Rovers and this the first one off the block. For us it’s about recog­nis­ing our past but not be­ing har­nessed by it,’’ McGovern says.

The de­signer says he fought a pitched bat­tle with en­gi­neers not to com­pro­mise his LRX con­cept, which dropped jaws at Detroit in 2008.

‘‘We were in­tran­si­gent about not mov­ing away from that de­sign in­tent,’’ McGovern says.

‘‘It was a case of ‘We need to move the roof up 60cm’ and we said ‘Over our dead bod­ies’. In the end we all got friendly and se­ri­ous about de­liv­er­ing it.

‘‘The orig­i­nal con­cept was al­ways there in the stu­dio as we started to de­velop the pro­duc­tion ve­hi­cle.

‘‘ It al­most be­came a cat­a­lyst for chang­ing the cul­ture of our busi­ness, for how we shape the fu­ture of Range Rover and Land Rover prod­ucts.

‘‘And we’re well on the way to de­sign­ing all those ve­hi­cles.’’

McGovern’s team pre­vailed to the ex­tent that, while the in­te­rior has been greatly de­vel­oped from the ‘‘very con­cepty’’ in­nards of the LRX, ex- terior changes amount to lit­tle more than the bon­net and roof be­ing raised by 20mm.

‘‘The de­sign hasn’t lost its drama, it’s got that fall­ing roof, the dra­matic belt line and over­all vis­ual ro­bust­ness. Clearly this is un­like any pre­vi­ous Range Rover, but it’s very ob­vi­ously a Range Rover,’’ McGovern says.

While the more prac­ti­cal five door ver­sion is a starter for Aus­tralia, the three door was demon­strated by none other than Land Rover’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Phil Popham, who folded his 190cm-plus frame into the cos­set­ted rear seats with ease.

He calls the Evoque a ‘‘ game changer— hugely sig­nif­i­cant’’ both for the brand and the mar­ket seg­ment.

While McGovern says he is de­ter­mined to shed the bag­gage of the past, Popham de­nies sug­ges­tions that the two-wheel-drive ver­sion of the Evoque (of­fered along­side the AWD) di­min­ishes the lux­ury mar­que’s proud off road her­itage.

‘‘Two-wheel-drive is re­ally fo­cused in Europe where they want the ver­sa­til­ity of an SUV and the el­e­vated driv­ing po­si­tion, but where a lot of peo­ple don’t ac­tively use AWD ca­pa­bil­ity.’’

To boldly go: the Evoque sets new stan­dards for the com­pact SUV.

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