Range Rover Evoque: how it was inspirational even before launch

The Range Rover Evoque has been hit from the moment it was revealed to the world on July 1 2010 at Kensington Palace.

But, as Land Rover Global Brand Director John Edwards revealed during the launch of the 2013 Land Rover Freelander 2, it’s been galvanising the company years before event that headline-grabbing debut.

Rewind back to January 2008. JLR was in trouble: it was at risk of a liquidity crisis and had become embroiled in a row with the government over access to state aid. This was all due to the global crash that a Tata spokesman described to the Telegraph as “extraordinary times”.

Tata was injecting ‘tens of millions’ of pounds into the firm: Business Secretary Lord Mandelson had refused a package of aid (said to be worth several hundred million) because “the Government cannot be a first call for help in these circumstances”. Helpful (particularly when viewed with today’s eyes…).

With most commentators forecasting the end of the SUV, the future for Land Rover looked perilous. A shot in the arm was needed.

The Land Rover LRX, unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show 2008, was exactly that.

Its smallest and greenest model ever, it was a most appealing vision of the future. That it also looked stunning also helped: this was a genuine concept car, one not confirmed for production. Easily the boldest and most dramatic Land Rover since the original 1948 legend.

Land Rover’s 50mpg-plus claims on its economy were unusually prophetic (it’s actually now bettered 55mpg, even without a mooted hybrid) and the journalists’ predicted launch date of 2010 was bang on, too.

“It’s our TT moment”, CAR paraphrased for Land Rover. Exactly that.

Few would have bet on the production version looking all-but identical to this concept, but Land Rover did just that as well. Stunning, when you look back at the reaction of the time.

CAR on the Land Rover LRX

Autocar on the Land Rover LRX

MSN Cars on the Land Rover LRX 

Turns out this reaction is exactly what Land Rover bosses yearned for. Edwards revealed during the launch of the 2013 Freelander 2 what a tremendous boost it was for everyone at the firm: “We needed some good news then.

“The debut of the LRX was very encouraging for the firm.” Exactly the right car at exactly the right time.

The rest, since then, has been history in the making: rapturous response, renamed Range Rover Evoque, confirmed for production, revealed by Victoria Beckham, sold out for months and turning the Halewood factory onto round-the-clock production for the first time in its history.

The whole company has been inspired by the Evoque since that 2008 reveal. Witness the new Range Rover, the bold plans for the Defender, even the sheer confidence with which Land Rover does its business today (note also how it’s had an effect on Jaguar too – would we have had F-Type without Evoque?).

For company followers, the New Land Rover began on that evening in Kensington Palace. For Land Rover, it started more than two years before.

Could the Land Rover LRX thus prove to be the most significant concept in the company’s history?

+ F-Type: Jaguar’s Evoque

+ Launch of the Year: Range Rover Evoque

+ Why Victoria Beckham is right for Range Rover