Range Rover Evoque says Hello to San Francisco
Some parties you just don’t want to miss. So when Land Rover called with a last-minute invitation to see the red-hot new Range Rover Evoque in person, I eagerly cleared my calendar.
Held at the beautiful Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the event was a debutante ball to introduce the striking and seductive Evoque to San Francisco’s most elite trendsetters.
As we reported a few months ago, Land Rover is trying something new with the Evoque. This is a Range Rover for a new era and has a much greater focus on efficiency, technology, and design. If the reaction from these Bay Area hipsters is positive, the company can likely look forward to sales success when the Evoque hits the road this fall.
“The people we appeal to have an entrepreneurial spirit and are very discriminating about the products they buy,” explained Andrew Polsinelli, Land Rover’s general manager of product planning. “You can’t define a Range Rover customer by their demographics,” he continued. “It’s much more about a mindset.”
Polsinelli says that Range Rover customers are looking to make a statement and he believes that the Evoque – daring, luxurious, capable, and environmentally sensitive – is the right statement for today’s market.
Finbar McFall, Land Rover’s head of marketing for North America, confirmed that this is the direction the company is headed: intelligent design that doesn’t require the customer to sacrifice luxury or performance.
Case in point: McFall boasts that the Evoque’s turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and lightweight construction will allow it to rocket to 60 miles per hour as fast as today’s V8-powered Range Rover Sport.
Judging by the enormously positive response at the party, I’d say that Land Rover is right on the money. The crowd swarmed the white show car as soon as the cover was lifted, with a long line forming at each door.
Waiting my own turn to step inside, I heard some attendees whisper concerns about the snug size. Fortunately, the Evoque’s cabin proved surprisingly roomy. Several NBA-sized guys were able to sit up front comfortably with head and legroom to spare.
The rear seats are cozy but livable, offering enough space for adults to relax and stretch out a bit. I met several moms and dads who were eager to ditch much larger SUVs in favor of the tidy Evoque. After close inspection, they assured me that the back seat was kid-friendly and that the cargo hold large enough for a diaper bag, stroller, and other vital parent gear.
Whoever is in the back seat will no doubt enjoy the gorgeous glass roof, which offers uninterrupted views of the sky. High-strength boron steel in the surrounding structure allows Land Rover to skip unsightly cross-braces without compromising safety.
One of the Evoque’s most controversial elements, the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, drew solemn nods of approval from the green-leaning crowd. Several people I spoke with expected to find a V8 engine under the bonnet and were pleasantly surprised by the company’s fuel-efficient choice. “I’m just waiting for gas prices to go back up,” explained one venture capitalist. “This seems like a very smart move.”
Based on the warm welcome from this hard-to-impress San Francisco crowd, it’s clear that Land Rover has much to look forward to when the Evoque comes to market in late 2011. Just make sure you’re not late to the party or you may find yourself stuck waiting in line.