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Kahn Range Rover Evoque RS250 review (2012 onwards)
What - Kahn Design Range Rover Evoque RS250
Where - Bradford, UK
Date - July 2012
Price - £59,875
Available - Now
We like: Head-turning looks, standout detailing, standard of finish, Evoque's standard-setting drive remains in tact
We don't like: Very expensive, style and image not for everyone
There's nothing like the Kahn Range Rover Evoque. The greenest model yet from the distinctive Bradford firm, it's even more striking than the standard Evoque yet little less able. And the heady price will guarantee exclusivity, too...
Key rivals - Audi TT RS, BMW M3, Porsche Cayenne, Overfinch Range Rover Evoque
The Range Rover Evoque continues to go down a storm, even a year after launch. The smash-hit baby Range Rover has the employees in the Halewood assembly plant working round the clock and still the waiting list stretches many months.
This popularity is why the specialist car firm owned by Afzal Kahn has held off releasing its latest creation. Until now. Finally, though, the firm famous for its Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models has turned attention (and "thousands of hours" of design time) to the smallest Range Rover - with impressive effect.
The flap on its trailing edge is pure motorsport
The Kahn Design Range Rover Evoque RS250 is, arguably, the firm's most successful model yet. It's a distinctive creation, but not just because of its vivid (Kahn-created) paint job and staggering 22-inch alloy wheels. It's the work that's been done to the front, rear and interior by the firm's in-house automotive design pros that's most striking.
The bespoke front end is look is all-new. The design team has used a bold black graphic to 'widen' the Evoque, and fitted a carbonfibre chin spoiler to make it look lower, finishing it off with details such as the grille vents and 'KAHN' lettering on the bonnet's leading edge.
At the rear, a unique centre-exit exhaust has been designed (no small job and showing the extent of the engineering work), and there is again a bespoke bumper plus a Porsche 911 Carrera RS-style 'ducktail' rear spoiler. The thin black gurney flap on its trailing edge is pure motorsport and is a really subtle and pleasing detail.
With a full interior makeover too, there's no denying the Kahn Range Rover Evoque is special. As it should be: the cost is dependent on individual spec but, as a guide, the 2011 test SD4 was up for £59,875 - compared to the £40k sticker price of a factory-fresh one. Big money, but when the buying process includes choosing your exact shade of colour, you know you're dealing with something rather special. But is it so in reality too?
Kahn doesn't currently offer any engine tuning kits for the Range Rover Evoque. The bigger Range Rovers, of course, have a deal with Cosworth that sees them put out over 550hp. Such makeovers for the Evoque have not yet been confirmed, though.
So, on the road, it performs just like any other 190hp 2.2-litre diesel Evoque. The engine is torquey, reasonably quiet and child's play to drive once you've mastered the rotary gearshift selector and electronic parking brake. It doesn't set standards but it's a hard setup to fault. That optional auto means it accelerates significantly faster than the manual too - 8.0 seconds to 60mph instead of 9.5 seconds.
Ride and handling
It takes just one look at the Kahn Evoque to guess the elephant in the room: ride quality. How does an Evoque running on monster 22-inch alloy wheels cope on the road, then? Answer: much, much better than you'd ever expect. The test car's ride was nuggety, sure, but not harsh and never crashy. It's no worse than a sportily-setup standard car, meaning Kahn owners won't suffer for their wheel and tyre art.
They certainly create more tyre roar
What's all the more impressive is that this has been achieved both without the use of Land Rover's optional magnetic ride option, but with the fitment of a lowered sports suspension kit. Taking 30mm from the ride height, the new setup cuts bodyroll and adds a dash of extra lithe agility to the class-leading Evoque.
Whether the tyres generate any more grip in reality is open to debate: they certainly create more tyre roar, but this isn't too extreme - Land Rover clearly designed the Evoque knowing people would fit big wheels to it, and made sure it compensated with sufficient soundproofing.
Overall though, the key thing about the Kahn Evoque is that it feels so much like the standard car. It is, thus, a very impressive vehicle to drive. Kahn has been careful not to lose the cohesive talents of the standard car, ensuring extreme looks aren't matched with an extreme drive.
Kahn's abilities in tailoring bespoke creations is fully shown off inside. The tailored makeover, from the diamond-quilted dashboard leather (matching the seats), to the Alcantara centre console, to the vivid orange dial pack, shows an extremely high standard of finish that's a credit to the 80-strong team at Bradford.
Yes, it's distinctive. No, it's not to everyone's tastes. But that's the whole idea - to be unique and put a high-quality twist on what the owner decides how it is to look. Personally we thought the black and orange finish was wonderfully outlandish, but fully appreciate others may not feel the same...
The knob has a jewel-encrusted logo
Otherwise, it's standard Evoque. The rotary gearshift knob has a jewel-encrusted Kahn logo but operates exactly the same controls, while the dash buttons may be surrounded by carbonfibre but are themselves all the same.
This five-door Evoque is as surprisingly practical as the regular car, too. It doesn't feel it - the dark trim and tinted windows make it seem more claustrophobic than standard - but there's no less space and the boot is the same practical size too. That'll please the busy urbanites Kahn expect to be the biggest buyers of this model.
Economy and safety
The higher-powered Evoque diesel models don't have engine stop-start, which is disappointing. The Kahn Evoque is also likely to be further hobbled by the drag from those enormous tyres, meaning the official 44.1mpg combined average will be but a distant dream for most.
Even so, it's still easily the greenest Kahn Range Rover yet. Yes, it seems even Kahn drivers want to downsize and do their bit for the environment: with this, they can do that in headturning style - and, thanks to the Evoque's five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, with the reassurance of good safety too.
The MSN Cars verdict
The Kahn Range Rover Evoque shows the sheer versatility of Land Rover's finest model. Unlike some other aftermarket conversions, it actually works really well, proving to be a convincing alternative to a stock Range Rover that is more 'factory-feel' than you'd expect. The styling is striking but cohesive, the interior trimmed to the highest standard, even the ride and handling pass scrutiny.
No, it's not for everyone. That's the whole point. This is something bespoke, that anyone with pockets deep enough can endow either on their own Evoque or one sourced and converted by Kahn Design itself. For a select few, it's perhaps the most agreeable Kahn Range Rover yet - and it doesn't start and end here for Kahn and the Evoque, either. Word is, there's plenty more like this in store...
Need to know
Engines: 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel, 6-speed automatic with paddleshifts
Power, hp: 190
Torque, lb ft: 310
0-62mph, secs: 8.0
Top speed, mph: 121
MPG, combined: 44.1
CO2, g/km: 169