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AUGUST 2011 ISSUE 8 VOL 7

911’S LAST BLAST DRIVING THE GT3 RS 4.0, THE FINAL 997. WHAT A SEND-OFF! MERCURY RISING

HOT ENOUGH FOR EVOQUE?

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08 I SSN 1817- 1427

AUGUST 2011 ISSUE 8-7

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SIX SENSATIONAL RIVALS: MP4-12C, 458 ITALIA, 911 GT2 RS, R8 V10, SLS AMG, GALLARDO PERFORMANTE — AND ONE SHOCK RESULT

BHD 1.8 KWD 1.5 OMR 1.8 SAR 18 QAR 18

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46 HOT WEATHER TESTING | RANGE ROVER EVOQUE

Imthishan Giado sweats in the name of science as he follows the Range Rover Evoque into the depths of hell

MERCURY

CARMIDDLEEAST.COM | AUGUST 2011


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RISING P H O T O G R A P H Y :

M O S H

L A F U E N T E

AUGUST 2011 | CARMIDDLEEAST.COM


48 HOT WEATHER TESTING | RANGE ROVER EVOQUE JOHN WINCHESTER HAS the longest job title I’ve ever seen in my journalistic career. He’s – hold your breath – the manager for the Middle East, Asia and South African Engineering Operations, Global Test Facilities And Planning, Vehicle Engineering and Verification. Phew. In actual fact, it’s one of the most important jobs in the industry. Quite simply, men like John Winchester are responsible for testing and evaluating new cars in the most extreme conditions they can find. The unsung heroes of the car industry, they spend hundreds of thousands of kilometres in the hottest and coldest parts of the Earth, or the dustiest, or the wettest, in the hope that they can wilfully break their cars and then build a better one to stand up to the rigours of owner abuse (or in many cases, neglect). Luckily for us, we live in the UAE, where Jaguar Land Rover has both a corporate head office and extensive testing facilities. And so, on an unsociably warm June day, I found myself accompanying John and his team as they took a pre-production Range Rover Evoque through its paces. It’s the car you see on these pages, although not quite the one you’ll be able to order in August. ‘We started testing Evoque here in 2009,’ says John, as he drives down Sheikh Zayed road on the first leg of his testing loop. ‘ The vehicles were M1 cars – they’re mules, so they would have been a FreeLander (LR2) top hat with Evoque underpinnings such as chassis, transmission and engine. Last year we were testing Verification Prototypes – those are the camouflaged vehicles you might have seen out on the roads.’ ‘ Those have a production-intent body, but the rest of the interior trim parts are very early in their development. The vehicle we are in now is a TT-build car – a Tool Tryout, which has been built at the correct line speed at Halewood. There are three more build maturations up to Job Intent, although they come within the next three months,’ he continues. John’s been with Land Rover since the days of the Range Rover Classic. In the early days, development relied heavily on test engineers sending back loads of data for the boffins to analyse, which then had to be used to build a corrected prototype, although they didn’t have quite as many spy photographers to contend with as well. Today, thanks to the wonders of computer modelling, most of the testing occurs in simulation long before a test car has even turned a wheel in anger. John’s job is still to collect data – early mules were measuring as much as 500 channels – but the turnaround from the factory is unbelievably improved. After transmitting their data, he and his team can expect a new calibration to be available for download the very next day. After the admittedly un-rigorous stresses of driving down Sheikh Zayed road, we turn off and head towards Deira. where Winchester has an ingenious way of ‘testing’ the cooling systems. ‘The area that we’re going to now is the Gold Souk. What we’ll do as part of our test procedures is soak the vehicle in direct sunlight in 50 degrees of heat to get the interior cabin temperature up to between 65 and 70 degrees. We then set the climate control temperature at 20/20 auto, which is our optimum temperature to cool the vehicle down for occupant comfort. It’s a very extreme test. We’re not just solely looking at the HVAC system; we’re also making sure that the engine and transmission cooling on the vehicle is robust.’ The Evoque’s A/C has to cool down the cabin within nine minutes – after which the car is then sent straight into rush hour traffic to see how the car performs with no air flow. It all sounds rather exciting but in reality, what it all boils down to is many hours spent tooling around Deira in the hottest, brightest part of the day, intentionally steering a car into the very worst parts of traffic to see if any links in the system will potentially buckle. Disappointingly for us drama-obsessed journalists, the Evoque proves resilient to the photographer-wilting heat of Deira. But the real test is now coming. Because we’re done and dusted with the urban jungle and headed straight for the desert. And more specifically, CARMIDDLEEAST.COM | AUGUST 2011

Predictably, John’s air pressure gauge is fancier than the one you get down at Ace Hardware

After trying valiantly to excavate the Evoque, John is left with one choice – get a shovel


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Have we mentioned how good looking the Evoque is, yet?

AUGUST 2011 | CARMIDDLEEAST.COM


50 HOT WEATHER TESTING | RANGE ROVER EVOQUE

the Hatta dunes, of which Big Red is the most famous. The lead car is the big-dog supercharged Range Rover, a car certainly capable of crossing the desert in comfort. For Winchester, the target is for the Evoque – missing four cylinders and a hell of a lot of suspension travel – to be able to keep up with its big brother. ‘The current ambient temperature is 47 degrees,’ remarks John casually, as he airs down the tyres, on the edge of the sand. I know, because my rubber-soled shoes are starting to slowly melt in the ferocious, brainmelting heat. And then, we’re off into the unknown. Now, there’s been a lot of idle chatter (of which we have been equally guilty) about how the Evoque isn’t really a proper Range Rover, just a car for fashionistas to go to the shops, a total sullying of the noble Land Rover offroad image. Well, that’s just a load of hogwash, I’m afraid. With some careful manoeuvring from John, the Evoque easily follows the Rangey on the sand. OK, it won’t do the sort of stunt driving that some UAE residents gravitate towards, but it is genuinely competent in the soft stuff, with the 240bhp four-cylinder engine providing more than enough torque to maintain solid momentum. It’s all down to the electronics and design, says John. ‘With our electric power steering, we change some parameters on that, so it changes the steering ratio, so you have to put less input into that to negotiate the dunes, which works very well. In terms of angles, we’ve tried to retain those approach, departure, breakover angles [from the LR2] but in the meantime retaining as much as we could of the

actual concept car. It’s a good compromise, what we have, with what we’ve got,’ he explains, almost casually while rolling up and down multi-storey dunes. ‘Sand Terrain Response makes the throttle pedal a lot more aggressive, so you’re not as far into the throttle pedal. It also changes the calibration for the gearbox so it will hold gears longer and delay upshifts. Again, that’s because you want to be able to keep the correct amount of momentum whilst driving in and around the dunes. What it also does is open the parameters on our slip control systems, so you’ll be getting far less DSC intervention,’ he confirms. What it all ends up being is witchcraft, because the Evoque never falters. Actually, that’s not completely true – as our loyal Facebook audience knows, the Evoque did get quite stuck in extremely soft sand at the base of a steep hill. But if I’m not being charitable, it was down to driver error, and not the car! I normally like a bit of exciting offroad action, but by any standards, this was an extreme test. By three in the afternoon, the heat was heading over 50 according to my gut thermometer, and also looking at the slowly dissolving features of my photographer, who was giving me a epic case of stink-eye for dragging him into this fiasco. Taking shot after shot, sinking into the bottomless sand with superheated fine bits of sand being gritted into my face has to rank as one of the viscerally unpleasant things I’ve ever had to do. And yet through it all, the trusty Evoque never budged, while we guzzled all the Pocari we possibly could. All I can say is, I’m glad you’re doing it and not me, John.

Disappointingly for us, the Evoque proves resilient to the photographerwilting heat of Deira

CARMIDDLEEAST.COM | AUGUST 2011

CAR Middle East Magazine - Evoque Hot Weather Testing  

CAR Middle East Magazine joins the Range Rover Evoque hot weather testing test out in the desert of Dubai, UAE.