View from the press: (Auto Car UK) Which Evoque do you prefer?

Nick Maher at UK based Autocar magazine takes a closer look at Afzal Kahn’s work and pays particular attention to groundbreaking Kahn Evoque.

Afzal Kahn is the British designer behind A. Kahn Design recently released the RS250 Evoque. The unabashedly confident Kahn says “he looks at cars differently” and “knows how to dress cars well.”

He isn’t trying to cater for everyone and offers the customer “fashion and something a bit different.”

His company employs 85 staff at its Bradford headquarters, and Kahn is passionate about investing in Britain. The company offers customers what Kahn describes as a “complete package”, with in-house design, research and development and as much UK part sourcing and manufacturing as possible.

The RS250 Vesuvius Copper Evoque exemplifies just such an approach, even if it’s possible to buy individual parts from Kahn’s catalogue. The tooling for the bodywork changes costs around £750,000, and he agrees that the Evoque, more than any other recent car he has worked on, has been a challenge.

Kahn singles out for criticism the front and rear bumpers on the standard car, adding that the rear in particular has been pushed up. His solution is a large diffuser-style rear section with a central exhaust and, above that, two big vents on the body-coloured panels under the black lights.

And they do make a visual statement and set the Evoque apart and that’s what appeals to the company’s customers. The same is true at the front, where Kahn has pierced the front bumper with a contrasting black cut-out, housing fog lamps and a large lower air intake. Bold Kahn lettering along the leading edge of the edge of the bonnet leaves no doubt that this isn’t an Evoque from the standard production line.

Equally, there’s no mistaking the interior for the standard car. Every surface is retrimmed in quilted, perforated leather in either black or orange with contrasting stitching. It’s a showcase this car – extrovert!

The changes add about £20,000 to the price of an Evoque, although you can buy the elements separately. The seat retrimming in leather and Alcantara costs about £3000, Kahn’s speedometer and rev counter in red will set you back £600, and those RS600 Kahn wheels are £2874 in 20inch guise.

Despite the economic downturn, Kahn has a steady stream of customers at his door – from the UK and abroad. He is also due to open a London showroom to help push his new Chelsea Truck Company brand – reinterpreting the Jeep Wrangler in his signature style. Kahn says he has sold more Wranglers in a year than 100 jeep dealers combined, so he’s clearly doing something right.

He admits that his dream would be to design his own car, although he’d also like to restyle the McLaren MP4-12C and Aston Martin’s range. More power for his Evoque is planned courtesy of Cosworth, and he’s exploring franchises abroad. Just as his energy and ambition seems limitless, so his sales success seems unarguable.

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This article appeared in the 22 August (2012) issue of Autocar.