Audi S3 VS Range Rover Evoque
- Virtual cockpit
- Accessible performance
- Handsome styling
- Harsh ride
- Limited rear-seat headroom
- Engine runs out of huff at top end
Range Rover Evoque
- A design icon once more
- Impressive tech
- Spacious and luxurious
- Feels huge, heavy
- Even more expensive
- Over-complicated options
Audi was the first to market with a premium small performance sedan in 2014, with its four-door S3 combining luxury appointments with a punchy engine.
The German brand has largely enjoyed free air in the somewhat niche segment, but now Mercedes-AMG has launched its A35 sedan and BMW's 2 Series Gran Coupe-based M235i is set for a 2020 introduction to try and steal some of the S3's thunder.
With a new-generation version expected around the corner, Audi has updated its S3 with more kit to keep things fresh against its new rivals.
Now priced at $65,800 in sedan form, and $64,200 for the five-door Sportback hatch, does the S3 still have what it takes to stave off the competition?
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Range Rover Evoque
The original Range Rover Evoque was a victory. It was the right car, in the right place, at the right time.
As the years rolled on though, competitors caught up, and Land Rover launched its stunning Velar in the segment above. The unthinkable had happened. The Evoque looked dated.
At long last, Land Rover has launched the second-generation version. Can it replicate even a fraction of the success of the first? We drove it at its Australian launch to find out if it has what it takes.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Despite being close to the end of its lifecycle, the Audi S3 sedan remains a solid choice for those looking for punchy performance wrapped in a premium package.
There is a bit of a trade-off in comfort for the extra performance, but it never strays towards being too unbearable or unliveable.
If you can survive with just using the rear seats occasionally, the S3 sedan also serves up one of the best front-seat interiors on the market, even after all this time.
Range Rover Evoque7.8/10
The second-generation Range Rover Evoque is a lot of things. It’s stunning to look at, better to drive, more practical, and more luxurious than ever before.
While it’s also hugely expensive and has lost some of the charm that came with its once-small visage, it achieves something far more important for the Evoque name, and that’s keeping it relevant in an increasingly congested luxury space.
Do you think the second-generation Evoque has reclaimed its ‘design icon’ throne? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Also check out Andrew Chesterton's thoughts from the Evoque's international launch.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.
While you might struggle to fit something like a full-sized bike into the boot of the sedan, the extra cargo capacity would easily accommodate extra grocery bags or a stroller.
We actually think the sedan looks better than the hatch, as the styling is a little more mature and grown up. It actually looks like a shrunk down A4!
The 19-inch wheels fitted to the S3 also help fill its slightly blistered wheelarches, while subtle nods to its sportiness can be seen in the red brake callipers and quad exhaust tips.
The rest of the S3 sedan is unmistakably Audi thanks to its singleframe front grille, strong shoulder line and contrasting side mirrors.
Inside, sports seats with Audi's unique diamond-quilting are fitted for the front occupants, while the rear bench seats also feature the bespoke finish – at least on the outboard pews.
Between the driver and front passenger sits a small storage cubby, the gear shifter, multimedia controls and two cupholders.
In the centre stack, you will see climate controls, the drive mode selector and a small screen above circular air vents.
Everything in the cabin is laid out in a clever, ergonomic fashion, though we will note the central cupholders won't be much use for anything bigger than a small coffee cup.
The best part of the interior is easily the virtual cockpit, which lays out all the information you need right in front of you. It's even customisable, so you can adjust the sizing of the satellite navigation maps or media system.
Range Rover Evoque9/10
Put simply – the Evoque has returned to put competitors back where they belong. It is truly stunning for an SUV. To my eyes, at least, it has dethroned the Volvo XC40 as the most attractive small SUV on the market.
Sure, it’s more Victoria Beckham than Bear Grylls, but the Range Rover brand has crept beyond upmarket from its hose-out interior roots – and the Evoque owns it.
Land Rover has managed to morph the seamless, slick lines of the Velar onto the Evoque's petite and chunky frame. Design touches like LED headlights (now standard), contrast bodypanels and flush doorhandles add to this car’s stunning visage as you get closer.
Still, it’s undeniably an Evoque and has held onto design pillars like the ‘high beltline’ that rides from the headlamps to the tail-lights and descending roofline.
Inside, the Evoque has also continued to push upmarket with leather-trimmed surfaces from the base S up. It still has the signature chunky door inserts with recessed handles and window/mirror controls and has lovely seats no matter the grade with a premium-feel raised centre console stack.
It’s also in the centre where the Evoque has gained the elegant ‘Touch Pro Duo’ set-up from its larger sibling the Velar, totally de-cluttering the space.
Smart design touches are abound with well-textured and hidden storage areas throughout.
It all looks incredible, but there are a few downsides worth noting. The Evoque now has the huge steering wheel from the rest of the Range Rover range, making the helm feel more cumbersome than it was in its predecessor, and the abundance of gloss surfaces results in a potentially glare-heavy and difficult to keep clean cabin.
Don’t like the cars in the pictures? No problems, Land Rover offers no less than 17 different interior trim packages with five different textured highlights and numerous headlinings and wheel trims for pretty much any taste.
Being a small sedan, the S3 doesn't exactly boast heaps of interior space, but there is enough for a young family or a group of four adults over short distances.
Our head can just about fit in the rear outboard pews, but our necks were a bit sore after trying the middle seat. For reference, this writer measures about 186cm.
Leg room was pretty good though, even with the front seats set-up for someone our size, though again, we'd only recommend small children for the middle seat.
Amenities in the rear are sparse, with just a 12-volt socket to charge devices and rear air vents to keep passengers entertained.
The door cards will swallow small bottles, but not much else, while there is no fold down centre armrest or cupholders.
The front fares a little bitter, with larger door pockets, a glove box and central storage cubby, but don't expect to be moving houses in the S3 sedan.
As for the boot, its deep and wide with a cargo net to keep things tumbling round, and is generous enough to swallow 390 litres of volume with the seats in place – that's about 50L more than the Sportback.
Range Rover Evoque8/10
The Evoque is on a heavily updated platform with its very bones having been altered to future-proof it for hybrid drivetrains.
This has resulted in a 20mm increase to its wheelbase, which is reflected directly into its now-gigantic cabin.
Aside from the invasively large steering wheel, the driver is greeted with an airy and spacious cabin with plenty of room for elbows across the thick centre console and chiseled out door cards.
Almost every surface greets you with a soft material, although the window line is quite high, making resting your arm there impractical.
There are storage spaces everywhere. Bottle holders in the doors, cupholders in the centre console, a massive top-box with a split opening and power sources within, a decently-sized glove box and a huge trench hidden underneath the second-screen.
The designers have had the foresight to put lovely textures on the base of storage surfaces to prevent items like phones, wallets and even pens from finding their way onto the floor.
Rear passengers are greeted with no shortage of legroom, dual rear air-vents, pockets on the back of the front seats and trenches in the doors.
Seat trim and comfort are easily as good as the front seats, and despite the declining roofline, headroom is plentiful for someone my size (I’m 182cm tall).
An odd annoyance I noted was the lack of handles above the doors. Almost every car has these. Not sure why this one doesn’t.
Don’t be deceived by the Evoque’s squashed rear window. I found on my test drive its surprisingly easy to see out of it, and then, there’s the boot.
The boot is truly gigantic, the Evoque’s new platform has made it 20cm wider than it was before, but it’s the volume that’s staggering. At 591 litres with the rear seats up it easily pulls punches with SUVs a size up.
There’s also an elastic belt and netted area for securing small objects. There are a few small catches to this voluminous space, and that’s that the rear seats don’t fold fully flat, making for a smaller total space and there’s only a space-saver spare wheel on offer under the boot floor.
Price and features
Priced at $65,800 before on-road costs, the S3 sedan is about $6500 cheaper than its $72,500 Mercedes-AMG A35 sedan rival, but still comes loaded with what you'd expect in a premium small car.
Close to the end of its life, Audi bundled nearly $9000 worth of extras in the S3 sedan at no extra cost late last year, which includes the aforementioned 19-inch wheels, metallic paint, Nappa leather sports seats, wireless smartphone charger, magnetic suspension, and Bang & Olufsen 13-speaker sound system.
A sports bodykit is also fitted as standard, while LED headlights, keyless entry, push-button start, electronically folding side-view mirrors and heated front seats also feature.
Inside, passengers will find dual-zone climate control, LED interior lighting, flat-bottom steering wheel, and 7.0-inch multimedia system with digital radio, satellite navigation and Bluetooth connectivity.
Our favourite feature though, is the 12.3-inch all-digital virtual cockpit instrument panel, which is easily customisable and clear to read.
Audi set the benchmark for digital displays when it first introduced virtual cockpit in its third-generation TT sports car, and it still remains the benchmark to this day.
Range Rover Evoque8/10
Now this is a tough one, because to its credit, Land Rover has made many of the essential items standard. That having been said, as I’m writing this I’m looking at an options list that’s 15 pages long.
There’s also the fact that once you consider the three trim levels, six(!) engines and two body options you’re left with a monumental 26 possible permutations of this car – and that’s before you start delving into those options.
To break it down, the Evoque has three familiar grades. The S, SE and HSE. From there you pick an engine.
The entry-level S, starting at $62,670 (before on-road costs) can only be had with the base four engines (P200, P250 petrol, D150, D180 diesel) and comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, a 10-inch multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support as well as built-in sat nav, leather interior with 10-way electrically adjustable front seats, manually adjustable climate control, a six-speaker stereo, auto-dimming rear view mirror, a reversing camera as well as front and rear parking sensors.
Stepping up to the mid-spec SE from $68,610 gives you the choice of all six (P200, P250, P300 petrol, D150, D180, D240 diesel) engines.
It has all the equipment of the S but with the addition of the ‘Touch Pro Duo’ second multi-function touchscreen controlling all the vehicle functions, ‘premium’ LED headlights with auto-high beam control, 20-inch alloy wheels, 14-way electrically adjustable front seats and a digital dashboard.
The top-spec HSE costs from $90,230, and can be had with only the top two engines (the P300 petrol and D240 diesel). It includes everything from the SE, as well as a more sophisticated “active driveline” all-wheel drive system, capable of sending all of the engine’s torque to any one wheel, powered tailgate, differently-styled 20-inch alloy wheels, upgraded 'Windsor extended leather' interior trim, 'Atlas bezel' steering wheel (a metal liner), the ‘ClearSight’ interior rear view mirror, 10-speaker premium audio system, and keyless entry.
From there you pick whether you want the sporty R-Dynamic body-kit at a cost of $1680 on any grade and then start ticking boxes on the expansive options list.
Items notably excluded from the standard features list on any grade like an electronically adjustable steering column and DAB+ digital radio are present, but are pricey options. As are bespoke interior trims and 16-way electronically adjustable heated and cooled premium leather seats.
Almost any feature can be had on any grade as an option. If you really want you can have a base S with premium leather seats and huge wheels. There’s something to be said for how customisable the range is, but with so many options it makes ordering a car overwhelming.
The now-expected active safety items are now standard from the S up, but an option any grade should have ticked is the ‘Driver Assist Pack’ (costing between $2840 on the S to $490 on the HSE) which includes the rest of the suite at a reasonable cost.
For a limited time, Land Rover is offering a ‘First Edition’ with either of the mid-spec engines, the D180 and P250 at $91,550 and $91,300 respectively.
They have the lion’s share of options boxes ticked for you and essentially include items like the R-Dynamic and black contrast packs for free. Although at the top-end of the price scale, when you consider the inclusions, they aren’t bad value.
It has to be said that although the Evoque range can be specified to any buyer’s imagination, Land Rover has managed to make an already expensive small SUV even more expensive, placing it in another price league altogether when tallied up against the Audi Q2 (from $41,950), BMW X2 (from $46,900) and Mercedes-Benz GLA (from $44,700).
Engine & trans
Power in the S3 sedan comes from a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine, which outputs 213kW at 6500rpm and 380Nm from 1850-5300rpm.
Engine outputs are impressive for a small car, though the powerplant does run out of go when the needle approaches redline.
The engine is also down on power and torque when compared to its newer rivals, such as the 225kW/400Nm Mercedes-AMG A35 sedan and 225kW/450Nm BMW M135i xDrive – though the latter is a hatchback.
Range Rover Evoque7/10
As previously mentioned, the Evoque has almost too many engine options. There are three petrols and three diesels, ranging from so-so to perhaps overpowered in the case of the P300.
Starting with the diesel the entry-level engine offered on most grades is the D150 which offers 110kW/380Nm, you can then step up to the mid-spec D180 which ups those figures to 132kW/430Nm and then to the top-spec D240 which offers 177kW/500Nm.
On the petrol side, things kick off with the P200 at 147kW/320Nm, then there’s the P250 with 183kW/365Nm and, finally, the top-spec P300 which has a rather silly 221kW/400Nm.
The top two engine options also offer a mild hybrid 48V electrical system which is capable of cutting the engine under 17km/h and feeding power back into auxiliary systems, although it is not capable of running the car under its own power. The brand says the system allows for a six per cent reduction in fuel consumption.
To make things more complicated, a three-cylinder mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants are expected to join the line-up some time in 2020.
Official fuel consumption figures are pegged at 6.5 litres per 100km, while carbon dioxide emissions are 151 grams per kilometre.
The S3 sedan sips premium unleaded fuel and the engine is Euro 6 compliant.
With a 55-litre fuel tank, the S3 should average about 846km of driving range per fill-up, but this is obviously dependent on driving conditions and the urgency of the driver's right foot.
Range Rover Evoque8/10
The Evoque has reasonable official claimed/combined consumption figures across all its engine options. Diesel engines are more impressive consuming 5.1L/100km for the base D150, 6.8L/100km for the D180 and 6.3L/100km for the D240.
Petrols are not quite as good, with stated figures of 8.1L/100km for the P200 and P250 and 8.2L/100km for the P300.
Every new-generation Evoque has a 65-litre fuel tank.
Audi has probably perfected the easy-to-drive-fast formula with its S3 sedan, deftly balancing approachable limits with an engaging drive.
The exhaust just pops, rather than crackles, but again, that characteristic lends itself more to the mature and grown-up status of the S3 rather than the ‘boy racer' image of other cars in the same class.
The quattro all-wheel-drive system means the S3 sedan just grips, but leans towards understeer if you really come into a corner red hot.
It's no bad thing though, as steering is communicative and the chassis feels neutral for the most part.
If you want a small luxury sedan that will make you feel like a hero, the S3 is it.
With peak torque available so early in the rev range, the S3 is also a gem when just cruising around at inner-city speeds and when getting off the line briskly.
The transmission shifts quickly and smoothly, but if you'd prefer, you can always put it in manual mode and shift with the gear stick or steering wheel mounted paddles.
The S3 then, is suitable for pulling double duty as a weekday commuter and weekend canyon carver, and while there are other options that will do each respective thing better, there isn't much out there that can balance both aspects.
Range Rover Evoque8/10
This Evoque is better to drive in almost every way compared to its predecessor. It’s smoother, more confident in corners, more composed on rough terrain, and some combination of the new engines and re-calibration of the nine-speed auto has made most of the turbo-lag issues reported on its predecessor a thing of the past.
Unlike many SUVs, the Evoque doesn’t suffer from the feeling of impending understeer, and it’s surprisingly capable when trudging along unsealed roads and even off-road tracks.
Although there’s no mechanical control of a low-range gearbox, Land Rover’s computer-controlled Terrain Response 2 system might surprise you as to how capable it really is, especially on the top two engine variants with their enhanced torque vectoring abilities.
Diesel engines in particular are surprisingly quiet, and while it could be argued that the P300 petrol engine is overpowered for something this size, it was genuinely difficult to get the wheels to lose traction on tarmac.
One criticism I would level at this new Evoque is that in its quest to become the most practical small luxury machine on four wheels, it’s lost something along the way. It’s so big and heavy now it feels as though you’re just driving a cropped down Velar.
That’s all very luxurious, but I’ll miss the nimble, agile feeling that was a large part of what made the first Evoque so endearing.
ANCAP awarded the entire A3 line-up a full five-star safety rating when it was originally tested in 2013.
We'd love to see something like a surround view-camera added to the next-generation S3, but with its diminutive size, it's not a deal breaker.
Some sort of autonomous self-parking technology would also be appreciated to get the car into those tight spaces.
Range Rover Evoque8/10
Thankfully there’s the ‘Driver Assist Pack’ which bundles all the active safety items into one reasonably-priced place. It costs between $2840 on the S to just $490 on the HSE and is easily the best value item on the options list.
The Evoque scored a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating in time for its launch, which applies to all variants.
There are six airbags and the rear seats benefit from ISOFIX child-seat mounting points on the outboard seats and top-tethers across all three positions.
Audi's S3 sedan, like all new Audis, come with a three year/unlimited kilometre warranty alongside three years of roadside assist and 12 months of anti-corrosion cover.
Service intervals are ever 15,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first.
Both three- and five-year service plans are available for $1850 and $2390 respectively.
Range Rover Evoque6/10
Land Rover offers a three-year 100,000km warranty which is frustratingly short, though if you believe what BMW has to say on the matter, this won’t bother premium buyers.
Still, with Volkswagen now offering a five-year warranty, the pressure will hopefully mount on premium automakers to start offering a little more in this space.
Land Rover does offer 24 hour roadside assist for the length of the warranty.
The new Evoque has condition-dependent servicing, meaning the car’s on-board computer will notify you when it’s time to have it serviced. This will happen at least once every 12 months.
This car’s predecessor allowed you to add service packs of up to five years at the time of purchase, as well as an optional extended warranty. We’ll seek clarification and pricing on these and update this story when we have confirmation on both.