The Range Rover Evoque PHEV P300e isn’t the best value or most spacious premium plug-in hybrid SUV, but it’s still an appealing choice that’ll be cheap to run.
Almost every Land Rover model is now available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain, from the Defender to the Range Rover. The Evoque is the smallest offering from the British SUV manufacturer, but the P300e variant rivals the likes of the Audi Q5 TFSI e, BMW X3 xDrive30e, Mercedes GLC 300 e and Volvo XC40 Recharge in the extremely competitive premium plug-in hybrid SUV class.
The Evoque hybrid broadly hits the mark in all respects; the plug-in hybrid powertrain does make it a little heavier than its mild-hybrid petrol and diesel siblings, but the basic ‘mini Range Rover’ driving experience is intact. Performance and running costs are both strong, so as long as you can live with the somewhat limited space and versatility inherent to all Evoques, you won’t be disappointed with the plug-in hybrid.
The Evoque P300e’s claimed efficiency figures are impressive, with 50km of electric range, 44g/km of CO2 emitted and 1.98L/100km average fuel economy. That last number in particular needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, but if you do mostly short journeys and can charge at home to keep the battery topped up, your fuel bills will be minuscule compared to a regular petrol or diesel car.
The Range Rover Evoque plug-in hybrid marks the debut of a new engine in the Land Rover range. The petrol portion of its ‘P300e’ drivetrain is a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder version of the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine used in many Jaguar and Land Rover models up to now. It makes 147kW on its own, and when combined with the 80kW electric motor, total power output is 227kW and 540Nm of torque.
A series of driving modes give you a degree of control over how the petrol and electric power is used: you can force the car to stay in electric mode, or save the power in the battery for use later in your journey. It’s perhaps better, though, to just leave it in the standard hybrid mode and let the system work out for itself the most efficient way to mix engine and motor. Unlike some plug-in hybrids, there’s no ‘battery charge’ mode where the engine juices up the battery – Land Rover reckons this is just inefficient use of petrol and so the Evoque does without.
That considerable power output is enough for a 6.4-second 0-100kph time for the Evoque hybrid. Running under electric power alone, maximum speed is a motorway-friendly 135kph, while bringing the petrol engine into play raises that to 212kph.
The addition of a heavy and complex plug-in hybrid drivetrain into a (relatively) small SUV like the Evoque does spark concerns that it could spoil the driving experience somewhat, but based on our time with the car, such worries are unfounded, despite it now weighing in the region of two tonnes.
The electric motor is both quiet enough to keep things serene in the cabin and powerful enough to take care of the majority of driving in urban environments on its own, without having to call on the petrol engine. Like all plug-in hybrids, if you press the accelerator hard enough, the engine will ‘wake up’, but it does so very smoothly in the Evoque – more so than in its close rival, the Volvo XC40 Recharge.
Engine noise does begin to become a factor at high revs, but with the very smooth eight-speed automatic transmission in play, there’s really no need to push things too much to make good progress. Overall, the Evoque P300e hybrid is smooth, refined and comfortable at nearly all speeds – just as a ‘baby Range Rover’ should be.
The balance between ride quality and control of body lean in corners is well judged, but the standard caveat of avoiding the larger alloy-wheel sizes to ensure maximum comfort is applicable to the Evoque. We haven’t had the opportunity to put the Evoque hybrid’s off-road prowess to the test yet, but Land Rover claims the instant torque of the rear-axle electric motor only serves to make the car’s Terrain Response system even more effective than before.
Modern Land Rover and Range Rover interiors are almost universally designed and finished to a high standard, and there’s no departing from that trend in the plug-in Evoque, with soft, premium-quality materials in all the right places. The only clue that you’re sitting in the P300e version as opposed to one of the mild-hybrid petrol or diesel Evoques is an extra control in the centre console, used for switching between the various drive modes.
The layout of the plug-in hybrid Evoque’s dashboard will be familiar to anyone with experience of other modern Land Rover and Range Rover products. There’s a large landscape-orientated infotainment screen in the middle of the dash, while (on SE specification and above) further touchscreen controls are flush with the panel further down, above physical knobs for the climate control.
First seen on the Land Rover Defender, the British brand’s latest infotainment setup goes by the name ‘Pivi Pro’. It’s a major improvement on previous Jaguar Land Rover efforts in this area, particularly for connectivity and responsiveness. It doesn’t quite kick the BMW, Audi or Mercedes infotainment systems into touch, but the Evoque is now at least on par with those brands’ in-car technology, instead of lagging badly behind.
It’s no better or worse than the standard Evoque for practicality, either, so boot and storage space is good (if not class-leading) and the rear seats are probably a little tight for regular use by adults, but fine for kids or younger teenagers on a long journey.
In summary, we like the plug-in Evoque a lot. Like many plug-in hybrids, it asks a premium for the extra driving range from the larger battery, but it is a well-rounded and nice-to-drive option.