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As part of our search for the most iconic British cars of the last 60 years (head over there to vote for your own favourite) we’re looking at some of Britain’s best-loved cars in a little more detail. Today, we’re looking at a car that’s under a year old! The Range Rover Evoque.
If the doughty Allegro has become symbolic of the near death experience seen by the British car industry in the 1970s and 1980s then surely nothing sums up the triumphant rebirth quite the same as the Evoque.
First seen as a jaw-dropping concept car at the Geneva Motor Show in 2008, the first production car rolled off the assembly line almost unchanged in 2011. Just as the original Range Rover practically created the concept of a 4×4 with high production values, the Evoque looks set to redefine the every day appeal of the SUV with an amazing package of practicality, off-road ability and sheer visual flair.
In many ways, this is a definitive statement of where the UK car industry finds itself in 2011. Owned as part of Jaguar Land-Rover by an Indian company, overseas money has been used to enable a thoroughly British brand to re-establish itself after a decades of faltering fortunes as part of first British Leyland, then the Rover Group (fathered in turn by BMW for a while), British Aerospace and a brief spell under the wing of Ford. This turbulent spell of ownership confusion helped usher several beloved brands such as Rover, Triumph and Austin into the dustbin of history, but also showed that British brands remain highly sought after around the world.
Under TaTa’s control and financial clout, Land Rover have been able to take an outré design like 2004’s Range Rover Stormer and apply the lessons learnt to create a car that marries Land Rover’s best-of-breed 4 wheel drive practicality to dramatic styling to create a car that has already become one of the most sought-after cars on the road.
As a package, the Evoque was guided not just by styling, but by environmental concerns (also reflecting the tectonic shift in what car buyers are looking for these days) – using lightweight composites and regenerative brakes to give the car a fuel efficiency that is light years away from the industrial era that spawned the original Range Rover. Again, in a sign of the changing tenor of the times, there is almost nothing about this vehicle other than its four wheel drive system that is aimed at the traditional Range Rover/countryside demographic.
With this car, Range Rover have shown that British cars can remain unique, distinctive and massively appealing in an ever more competitive and fractured market place. The only sadness is that some other brands didn’t survive to show that they could have done the same.