Car reviews - Land Rover - Range Rover Evoque - P290 HSE Dynamic
Land Rover models
Superb engine performance, great steering and handling with optional adaptive dynamics, premium cabin when fully optioned, can go off-road
Room for improvement
Enormous pricetag plus options, some features and electronics glitchy, tyres can lack grip, is it just a circa-$100K Golf R?
Powered-up Range Rover certainly does Evoque more than a slight hot hatchback feel
20 Jul 2018
QUITE suddenly the Range Rover Evoque has decided that it wants to be a hot hatchback.
Five years after the baby of the range lobbed, the top model grade has upgraded from a Ford-based 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 177kW of power and 340Nm of torque, to a Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) unit of the same configuration, tagged Ingenium and with a choice of two outputs – the same as before, or as-tested here with 213kW and 400Nm.
Moving from standstill to 100km/h now takes 6.3 seconds, down from the 7.6s last claimed, and it has also since upgraded to nine gears inside its automatic transmission instead of six previously.
However, with this new P290 HSE Dynamic, the price of the flagship model grade moves up by a whole $11K compared with the pre-MY18 versions last year. The question is, can the Evoque continue to be part-luxury SUV, part-off-roader, but now add part-hot hatch to its repertoire?
Price and equipment
Previously dubbed the Evoque Si4, the HSE Dynamic model grade last year asked $82,562 plus on-road costs. It remains available for a near-identical $82,781 with identical outputs from the new engine (now dubbed P240 for 240ps or 177kW), however this Evoque Si4 (called P290 for 290ps or 213kW) has usurped it as the flagship at $93,568 in the same HSE Dynamic model grade.
This powered-up version is only available in that single model grade, too, complete with standard 19-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, auto on/off headlights and wipers, auto up/down high-beam, keyless auto-entry with push-button start, dual-zone climate control, Windsor leather, electrically adjustable and heated/ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a head-up display, 10.0-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, lane-departure warning, and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).
Even then, though, the options list is long. Chalk up a $6080 Advanced Driver Assistance Pack with auto reverse-park assistance, 360-degree camera, blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert, which runs second in price only to the $6360 Black Design Pack with 21-inch wheels.
Bank $3010 for 16-speaker/825-watt Meridian audio, $2740 for adaptive cruise control, $2530 for adaptive suspension, $2460 for a fixed panoramic roof, $1260 for apps connectivity and Wi-Fi hotspot, plus even $940 for a digital radio and $820 for privacy glass. The total? $123,578 as-tested. Ouch.
Given that the basic design is five years old, the way this interior has aged is a testament to the original design, and in many ways the Evoque still transcends the small SUV segment. Only the clicky steering wheel cruise controls and poor resolution of the green-tinted head-up display (which was so poor that we turned it off) really highlight its age, while the touchscreen – despite a relatively recent upgrade – proved slow to react and occasionally glitchy.
The optional auto reverse-park assistance failed to work properly, the sensors beeped sporadically, and the absence of voice control for navigation destination entry compounded the lack of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Best to sit back, enjoy the expansive forward (if not rearwards) view, and crank up the faultless Meridian audio system, which is one option most definitely worth selecting.
Meanwhile, although rear passengers will not enjoy plentiful legroom, it should be noted that the deep and plush seatbase does impact on the perception of space. In fact, this P290 HSE Dynamic comfortably eclipses an RS Q3 or GLA45 for rear amenities, further delivering a capacious 575-litre boot volume behind the rear-seat backrest compared with 356L/421L for its rivals respectively.
Engine and transmission
This is where the aforementioned Audi and Mercedes-AMG can gain some steam ahead of the Range Rover – by being smaller, lighter and more powerful. The RS Q3 gets a 270kW/465Nm 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder, it weighs 1735kg and claims a 4.4s 0-100km/h. The GLA45 gets a 280kW/475Nm 2.0-litre turbo four, it weighs 1614kg and claims identical pace to the Audi.
Then there is this newly powered-up Evoque also with a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four, delivering 213kW at 5500rpm, 400Nm at 1500rpm, with an 1883kg kerb weight and 6.3s 0-100km/h. Okay, so the P290 HSE Dynamic is a couple of seconds off the pace on-paper, but on the road it is brilliant.
Thanks to a short first gear and permanent all-wheel drive, this Rangie leaps from a standing start and piles on speed in an almost rabid way. An equivalent vehicle that came to mind was a Golf R, which claims a 5.0s 0-100km/h, such is this model’s energy and enthusiasm, yet also refinement.
Caveats are few: the nine-speed auto really needs to be in S-for-Sport mode to be at its most alert and intuitive, yet it is also never properly sporty, and the claimed combined-cycle fuel consumption of 7.6 litres per 100 kilometres blew out to 13.2L/100km on test. That said, it might have something to do with the engine encouraging an, ahem, spirited driving style.
Ride and handling
Range Rover has balanced on- and off-road prowess with the choice of Michelin Latitude Tour HP tyres on this Evoque, but the chunky tread pattern proves to be a dynamic weakness of this P290 HSE Dynamic. That is, to be fair, only because the performance and suspension demands better.
The steering of this small SUV continues to be absolutely best in class, with quick response and superb linearity ensuring that such a heavy vehicle feels lighter and more nimble than it should. The optional adaptive suspension has two modes – Normal or Dynamic – and they offer only a slight variation on a firm underlay that is always comfortable, if occasionally edgy.
Plus, with excellent electronic stability control (ESC), torque vectoring (only by braking a spinning inside wheel), and tight lateral control, on a winding road this British model feels as lively as ever, harnessing all that newfound power under acceleration from quite an early part of corner exit.
Again, the only issue is the tetchy tyres that grip to a point and then release it quite abruptly.
On the upside, with 215mm of ground clearance and a bevy of driver select modes for the all-wheel-drive system – sand, mud/ruts, snow, hill-descent control – experience has dictated that this Range Rover can range and roam to places where its Audi or AMG rivals cannot.
Safety and servicing
Seven airbags (including dual front, front-side, curtain and driver’s knee), ABS, electronic stability control (ESC), front and rear parking sensors with rearview camera, lane-departure warning and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) are all standard.
Euro NCAP tested the Range Rover Evoque in 2011 and it scored four stars with 32.49 out of 38 points.
Land Rover’s servicing plan for five years or 130,000km includes costs $1500.
Several premium small SUV models have emerged in the five years since the Range Rover Evoque launched, but it continues to place a special spin on the formula that others have not touched since.
That is especially the case with this P290 HSE Dynamic, which adopts a new layer to its character by feeling like one very expensive hot hatch in terms of its performance and also dynamic potential (with the right tyres, mind). Yet it continues to feel very premium inside, ride nicely, and go off-road.
The pricetag in some ways justifies such a broad character, however the excessive optional equipment certainly does not. Frankly, this top-of-the-range Rangie should come full loaded for $93K and not with adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot alert and digital radio as extra-cost options.
As the Evoque enters the final phase of its lifecycle there is no doubt the P290 HSE Dynamic is a case of the best being left until last – it is just a shame that it is also now more expensive than ever.
Audi RSQ3 Performance from $83,927 plus on-road costs
Charismatic engine offset by old interior and dated dynamics.
Mercedes-AMG GLA45 from $89,211 plus on-road costs
Brilliant pumped-up hatch is more charming than A45, but it is also cheap and cramped inside.
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