Skip advert
Advertisement

Concept to reality: Land Rover LRX to Range Rover Evoque

We trace the LRX concept car's development into the stunning Range Rover Evoque

In the first part of our series looking at how concepts have been changed into real cars we can all buy, we detailed how the VW up! had to change from a radical rear-engined layout to a front-engined one to become viable. But in this second instalment, we’re looking at a car whose stunning show-stand looks were kept remarkably intact as it entered the showroom: the Range Rover Evoque.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Land Rover was not conceived as an urban brand, but lifestyle trends during the company’s life have added that facet to its appeal with customers. In particular, the arrival of the Discovery in 1989 opened the brand up to buyers who wanted practicality over luxury or off-road prowess. 

Almost two decades later, though, Land Rover’s design team knew there was the opportunity for an urban-focused model with streetwise looks. So in 2006, the company’s studios started work on a new concept that would embody chunky, rugged looks in a more sophisticated-looking shape than ever before. Design director Gerry McGovern was at the overall helm while Julian Thomson led the exterior work on a cool, urban Land Rover: LRX.

The car made its debut at the 2008 Detroit Motor Show and it was immediately obvious that it had sales potential. Fans cooed over the way that McGovern and his team had stitched typical Land Rover traits – clamshell bonnet and floating roof among them – into a smaller vehicle.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

The concept had been created with a production model in mind – but there were significant obstacles to achieving that goal, not least the platform; LRX had showcased a trick electrified powertrain, but Land Rover didn’t have that sort of tech at its disposal. The car would be based on a heavily modified D8 platform from Land Rover’s then-owner Ford. This couldn’t deliver hybrids, but it was a solid base, and engineers knew how to make it work off road.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Even so, maintaining the show car’s distinctive stance – in particular, that high beltline with the sloping roof – was a nightmare for the engineers led by Murray Dietsch.

There are signs that the team knew of the impending struggle even as they worked on the LRX, though. The little ‘tabs’ at the top of each plastic wheelarch lining are functional, helping to hold the unit in place. Every millimetre of travel was needed in the wheelarch itself if the Evoque were to keep that distinctive LRX stance without increasing the depth of the rear bodywork, so the mounting for the lining had to be adapted accordingly.

There was, however, one key change between LRX and Evoque – the bonnet badge. During development of the car, it was decided that the vehicle could be pitched more effectively (and more profitably) if it became a Range Rover rather than a Land Rover. It was a significant switch, and one that has subsequently allowed the Evoque to find its place more easily in the Range Rover pillar of what McGovern calls the ’three families of Land Rover’.

In any case, becoming a more luxurious product didn’t dent demand for the Evoque, which caught even Land Rover by surprise. The firm expected to sell around 40,000 examples per year but annual production at the Halewood site (and, in time, in China) topped 120,000 units on more than one occasion. Small wonder that Land Rover fought (and, unusually, won) a copyright case against a Chinese firm which copied large chunks of the vehicle’s looks.

And when it came to launching the second generation of the Evoque, McGovern himself admitted that the key would be to not take the model too far away from those LRX origins. “We’ve worked hard to make sure the Mk2 is unmistakably Evoque,” he said, “but unmistakably new Evoque.” The detailing may have been changed to ramp up the sophistication another notch. But the LRX’s distinctive stance and profile look set to feature on the current Evoque, and many more, for years to come.

Are you a fan of the concept's looks? Let us know in the comments below...

Skip advert
Advertisement
Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

New Skoda Elroq electric SUV is out on the roads
Skoda Elroq electric SUV - stationary front 3/4
News

New Skoda Elroq electric SUV is out on the roads

The upcoming mid-size SUV will be Skoda electric alternative to the Karoq
16 May 2024
Skywell BE11 takes aim at the premium all-electric SUV market
Skywell BE11 front 3/4
News

Skywell BE11 takes aim at the premium all-electric SUV market

Chinese firm Skywell will begin UK sales later this year
10 May 2024
New Genesis X Dog is a paw-sitively luxurious concept car for canines
Genesis GV70 X Dog concept
News

New Genesis X Dog is a paw-sitively luxurious concept car for canines

It’s modelled on a GV70 and comes with a suite of accessories to make your four-legged friend more comfortable
9 May 2024
New 2024 BMW iX facelift sticks with controversial design
BMW iX facelift spy shot - Front 3/4
News

New 2024 BMW iX facelift sticks with controversial design

The luxury electric SUV sector is about to get even more competitive thanks to an revised iX
8 May 2024

Most Popular

Mercedes says ‘no thank you’ to EQ: EV brand to be axed
Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 - EQS badge
News

Mercedes says ‘no thank you’ to EQ: EV brand to be axed

Mercedes will roll back EQ branding for its electric cars as the first generation of EV models reaches the end of its lifecycle.
15 May 2024
UK faces “epidemic” of young uninsured drivers
Car crash
News

UK faces “epidemic” of young uninsured drivers

The number of young people convicted of driving without insurance has tripled since 2021, due to sky-rocketing premiums
17 May 2024
Car Deal of the Day: SEAT Leon is an ideal family hatchback for £165 a month
SEAT Leon TSI EVO - front tracking
News

Car Deal of the Day: SEAT Leon is an ideal family hatchback for £165 a month

Excellent interior quality and efficiency make the SEAT Leon our Deal of the Day for 17 May
17 May 2024