Road test review: Range Rover Evoque P300 HSE
RANGE ROVER EVOQUE P300 HSE
Base price: $117,900
Powertrain and performance: 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four, 224kW/400Nm, 9-speed automatic, AWD, Combined economy 8.1 litres per 100km, 186g/km CO2 (Source: Rightcar)
Vital statistics: 4371mm long, 1649mm high, 2681mm wheelbase, luggage capacity 472 litres, 20-inch alloy wheels.
We like: Brilliantly quick and capable, fantastic interior, impressive ride quality.
We don't like: Flaky touchscreens, un-hybrid like fuel consumption.
The P300 mild-hybrid version of the Range Rover Evoque should come with a warning label. A big red sticker that says "This car is not what you are thinking it is". A small mild-hybrid luxury SUV? That'll be soft, comfortable and economical, right? Well, it ticks one of those boxes...
So which one is it then?
It's comfort. The Evoque is superbly comfortable, as you would expect something with the Range Rover name spread across its nose to be. That wasn't always the case with the Evoque though, as the first one was hobbled with a brittle ride on the larger wheeled models that was all in the name of sportiness.
That's not to say the Land Rover has made the new one softer, but the ride is a vast improvement, with even our R-Dynamic HSE's big 20-inch wheels. Still sporty-firm with impressively well controlled body roll, the new Evoque is also now nicely compliant and settled over pretty much every road surface.
Handling remains nicely sharp and, despite the P300's hefty 1,850kg weight, it feels nimble, lithe and compact on the road.
So does that mean it is a hybrid that isn't economical?
Not even in the slightest.
To be fair, it is only a mild hybrid, but like everything that gets a version of JLR's 2.0-litre turbo petrol Ingenium engine, it is thirstier than you would expect - an expectation that is naturally heightened when you see the word 'hybrid'.
While the official NEDC urban fuel consumption figure for a P300 wearing 20-inch wheels is 10.1L/100km, we were almost seeing double that around town, although to be fair to the Evoque, those ill-advised (from a fuel consumption perspective) roof racks fitted to our test car would likely have been having a negative effect.
But even allowing for the maximum negative effect of the roof racks (they can add up to 10 per cent to fuel consumption) the P300 never particularly convinces as a fuel-saver.
So the hybrid system is useless then?
Well, not exactly, no - because theP300 is damn quick for a small SUV.
JLR don't make any claim of it (in fact they are quite vague around any advantages of their mild-hybrid system), but the P300 is basically the performance version of the Evoque, being the fastest to 100km/h by close to a second - 6.6 seconds compared to 7.5 for the next quickest variant.
And it feels feisty on the road too, with a big, healthy chunk of torque - that starts down low and hangs around well up into the rev range - that clearly comes from a combination of the turbo and electric boost. The hybrid system alone brings a healthy 140Nm to proceedings.
As a result of this, the P300 belts off the line from a standing start and the engine pulls confidently right across its rev range which, combined with its equally confident handling, makes for a thoroughly enjoyable and impressively sporty driving experience.
But is it a proper Range Rover?
It may not really have been before, but this time round it certainly is.
The Evoque packs everything you would from a Range Rover into its smaller package, with a thoroughly superb interior, brilliantly comfortable seats with a commanding driving position and loads of tech.
That interior is a deeply impressive thing that is beautifully put together from high quality materials. Modern and spacious, belying the Evoque's relatively compact size, the level of standard equipment and sheer quality goes a long way towards justifying the small SUVs price premium.
Unfortunately it does also come with JLR's gorgeous but flaky dual touch screen infotainment system that looks absolutely stunning, but is clunky to use and unreliable.
Still, the P300 offers up a very tempting blend of a high-quality, luxurious interior, sharp dynamics and satisfying performance.
Just go into it expecting performance-style fuel consumption, as opposed to hybrid-style and you won't be disappointed.
Any other cars I should consider?
The Evoque doesn't really have a direct competitor, with other luxury European brands offering vehicles both smaller and larger than the Range Rover, such as sister company Jaguar with its smaller E-pace and larger F-pace, with the larger Jaguar being cheaper than the Evoque, highlighting Range Rover's premium ask.
The vehicle it probably sits closest to, however, is - wait for it - a Porsche.
The P300 sits right in between the (admittedly 300mm longer) entry level four-cylinder 185kW Porsche Macan and the 260kW V6 Macan S in terms of both price and performance, but with a similarly prestige badge.