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The all-new Range Rover Evoque is already generating excitement, even though it won't be arriving in Canadian showrooms until October -and among those pumped about this new compact SUV are the folks who will be selling it.

"We're excited because the Evoque is the ideal product for us in Canada," says Lindsay Duffield, president of Jaguar Land Rover Canada as the automaker gave a select group of auto journalists a preview of the newest member of the Land Rover family at the company's Advanced Engineering and Design Centre in Gaydon. W

Being offered in both a two-door coupe version and a five-door hatchback, the Evoque is expected to open the brand to new consumers, in particular a much younger crowd than those who typically visit Land Rover showrooms.

Duffield expects a spinoff effect for Jaguar as well, since all but two dealerships in Canada sell both brands.

Land Rover's global brand director, John Edwards, shares Duffield's expectations the Evoque will draw conquest sales from a completely new group of consumers.

The coupe, especially, is expected to have plenty of appeal for the younger demographic, thanks to some available trim packages that will catch the attention of that generation.

In Canada, the coupe is expected to initially claim about 30 per cent of sales, and may even compete with true coupes from other manufacturers.

More likely, though, the Evoque, which is expected to be priced in the $50,000 range, will be tackling such SUV competitors as the Mercedes GLK, BMW X3 and Audi Q5.

Land Rover considers itself the benchmark brand in the SUV market.

As such, it says it has ensured the Evoque -while the most compact product it has ever built -doesn't come up short in the brand's key areas of design, capability and versatility. Its foundation is Land Rover's midsized platform, more specifically a heavily modified LR2 platform. It has been designed from the outset to incorporate the off-road capabilities synonymous with the brand.

It has generous ground clearance, the approach and departure angles are aggressive and the technologies built into the Evoque include the first off-road application of Land Rover's MagneRide adaptive dynamics system.

The Evoque's height is 27 millimetres lower than the LR2, yet it has 10 mm more ground clearance. Inside, the cabin is deceptively spacious.

For example, the coupe has headroom that will accommodate a six-footer and rear headroom is 40 mm greater than a BMW 3-Series coupe.

The five-door version has 35 mm more rear headroom than the Range Rover Sport. And trunk volume (14.8 cubic feet) is the same as a BMW X1 and has been specifically designed to accept a couple of golf bags, clubs included.

The Evoque's design has stayed true to the LRX show car that was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show three years ago.

In fact, the LRX was kept in the design studio here so engineers and designers could reference it easily as they developed the production version.

Dimensionally, it's nearly identical, with just a few subtle changes, such as reshaped front fenders and an extended rear spoiler to improve aerodynamics. By comparison, its 4,355-mm length is shorter than the Audi Q5 and the BMW 3-Series coupe.

In Canada, there will be one powertrain offered -a 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder with twin variable valve timing that generates 240 horsepower at 5,500 r.p.m.

The engine is a carry-over from the days when Ford owned Land Rover and it shares turbocharging and direct injection technologies similar to Ford's EcoBoost system.

The four-cylinder is coupled to a six-speed automatic and will only be available in Canada in allwheel-drive.

In a brief drive around the Gaydon facility's test track, the gasoline four-cylinder had decent response, certainly more than adequate for the vehicle.

The turbo engine is capable of launching the Evoque to 100 km/h in 7.6 seconds (15 per cent quicker than a LR2 V-6), with a top speed of 217 km/h.

Fuel consumption is expected to be about 8.7 litres per 100 km, based on European testing.

The suspension, with four coilsprung struts, easily swallowed up rough spots on the road's surface while maintaining a solid, stable feel going through tight turns. All indications suggest it will be equally capable of handling offroad challenges.

The steering is electrically assisted and felt precise and responsive during the short loop here.

One of the keys to the Evoque's performance is the engineering team's focus on weight reduction.

Lightweight materials are used throughout, including an aluminum roof and hood, plastic front fenders and a composite tailgate. Aluminum suspension components are also used and the overall result is a curb weight of just less than 1,500 kilograms, making it 35 per cent lighter than the Range Rover Sport.

Yet, this SUV doesn't compromise the versatility and capabilities that distinguish the Land Rover brand.

The cooling system has been designed to handle the demands of towing, while the oil system is capable of functioning even at a 45-degree angle, such as one might encounter in off-road use.

The engine sealing ensures the Evoque can handle water crossings up to 500-mm deep.

With these kinds of credentials, the compact Evoque appears worthy to wear the Range Rover badge.

Type: Premium compact SUV
Engine: In Canada, a 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder with twin variable valve timing, 240 h.p. at 5,500 r.p.m.
Top speed: 217 km/h
Fuel consumption: 8.7L/100km (European testing)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Trunk volume: 14.8 cubic feet
Available features: Park Assist; Blind Spot Monitoring; Surround Camera System; Full dual-zone automatic climate control; Hard drive navigation; DAB/FM/AM/ Sirius tuners, with 10xCD multiplayer; Digital and Satellite TV, DVD playback; Rear seat entertainment package, with 8-inch video screens, digital wireless headphones and touch screen remote; Keyless entry system, powered tailgate; Adaptive headlamps with automatic high beam assist; Heated windscreen, front seats and steering wheel.

Read more: Land Rover Evoque
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