Land Rover turned 40 in style last night with a birthday bash at the Orangery at the Kensington Palace in London. There, amid a gathering of all of its historic predecessors, execs took the wraps off of a production version of the newest family member: the Range Rover Evoque. While this posh reveal proved more show than tell, it did confirm that the volume-build vehicle remains remarkably close in appearance and spirit to its concept predecessor, the Land Rover LRX, which was presented at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show.

In addressing its new and unconventional sobriquet, Phil Popham, managing director of Land Rover, said that the choice of "Evoque" reflects the vehicle's uniquely universal appeal: "It was important to give the car a name that was instantly recognizable through language and cultural boundaries throughout the world. We wanted to create a new name which was innovative and different. A name which implies exclusivity and arouses emotions, Evoque is cosmopolitan and cross-continental, sophisticated and matches the car's urban elegance."

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In describing its distinctive visual character, Gerry McGovern, Land Rover design director called the Evoque "a bold evolution of Range Rover design, providing customers with a desirable, premium and compact car like SUV" that translates into "a powerful statement of the Range Rover's brand intent to appeal to a wider audience." McGovern's observations were echoed by Chris Marchand, Executive Vice President of Land Rover North America who further observed, "The new Range Rover Evoque has a very clear mandate in North America to give luxury SUV customers another choice to enjoy Range Rover style, luxury and all terrain traction, but with a more compact, fuel efficient footprint. This is an incredibly important expansion of the Range Rover brand in this market."

Set to go on sale in Europe next summer and arrive stateside next fall, this rather dramatic departure from traditional Land Rover/Range Rover offerings will be built in the firm's award-winning Halewood facility and be marketed in 160 countries. While no mechanical specifics were given, the Evoque is expected to expand on many of the key elements that were found on the LRX, design touches that will ensure it lives up to Land Rover's pledge that it will be "the smallest, lightest and most efficient vehicle" the firm has ever produced. To that end, the Evoque is likely to share good deal of basic platform architecture with Land Rover's compact Freelander model but make even greater use of aluminum-intensive technology to save weight.

Both the three-door shown at the reveal and a five-door variant are said to be part of the Evoque's model menu, along with the choice of front- or four-wheel drive and gasoline and diesel engines -- although the latter has yet to be confirmed for the American market. The new Range Rover Evoque will make its official public debut at the Paris Auto Show in September when more details will be revealed.

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