What is it?
It’s the Range Rover Evoque with a new automatic gearbox – a nine, count ’em, speed variant that will replace the existing six-speed auto on 2014 model year Evoques. That means you can order it from around June and Evoques with the new ‘box will arrive from September.
It’s the first application of this new ZF ‘9HP’ gearbox. Land Rover has become a lead partner for the transmission, which has been specially developed for transverse engine installations, so gets it first to install in its Evoque. And instead of the ’box having two overdriven gears, as the six-speeder does, four gears are now overdriven towards the top end, and the upper ratios stretch much further than sixth did. At the bottom end, first is even lower than before, too.
The main benefits, then, are improved drivability at the bottom when towing or off-roading, and at the top it gives a lazier and therefore – you would think – quieter and more economical cruise.
Although the new CO2 rating hasn’t been officially sanctioned, Land Rover says it will improve by four per cent thanks to the gearbox alone, but will actually turn out 10 per cent better because the auto Evoque now includes stop-start for the first time.
That means a diesel’s economy should improve from 43.5 to around 48mpg, with the turbo petrol up from 32.5 to nearly 36mpg.
The new ‘box is a compact unit – only 6mm longer than before despite the three extra ratios – and some 7.5kg lighter. Some of that weight loss is because two dog clutches are used instead of conventional clutch packs.
There’s no word on cost as I write – other trim adjustments will likely be made for the 2014 model year, too - but I wouldn’t rule out a very modest increase.