Whoosh! It took a little more than one hour of test flight to convince us that Phenom 100 EV, short for “Evolution,” finally has shed the original Phenom 100’s matronly image. Although the earlier versions of Embraer’s first purpose-built business jet were roomy, rugged and reliable, they were the perennial last-place finishers in speed contests with comparably priced light jets.

Key to the peppier performance is the pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PW317F-1E turbofans, engines that produce up to 15% more thrust for hot-and-high airport takeoffs and up to 10% more thrust for climb and cruise. No physical changes were made to the original PW617E engines, but a FADEC throttle push bumps output with no change to TBO.

Hot-and-high airport performance is dramatically improved. Departing Mexico City’s Toluca Airport on a 25°C day, for example, a typically equipped Phenom 100 could fly four occupants about 145 nm. Phenom 100 EV, in contrast, can fly the same payload more than 1,050 nm, assuming the same airport density altitude.

Last Friday, we belted into the left seat of s.n. 381, the first production configuration Phenom 100 EV and the last one to be built in Brazil. S.n. 382 and subsequent will be assembled at Embraer’s Melbourne, Florida, facility.

Similar to the latest version of Phenom 300, the EV’s flight deck has been upgraded with Prodigy Touch avionics. That’s Embraer’s version of Garmin G3000, featuring larger flat-panel displays and twin 5.7-in. touch-screen controllers in the forward console that host some functions that used to require stand-alone control panels in the cockpit. The combined AC and USB power outlet has been moved to the left sidewall, where it provides convenient access for a single pilot.

One nit to pick: The left- and right-side circuit breaker panels, located in the foot wells, have black labels on dark gray strips that are difficult to see without a strong flashlight, even in bright daylight. The labels need to be black on white or white or black to make them easier to see. We’d also like to see the circuit breaker and labels color coded for quick identification.

The new 14.1-in. displays have significantly better screen resolution than the original Garmin G1000 12.4-in. displays. Electronic charts and EICAS, for instance, easily can share the split-screen mode of the MFD. The package also includes Garmin’s solid-state GWX70 weather radar with optional 40-nm turbulence detection and ground clutter suppression, and 3-D VNAV with both climb and descent modes. An ice detector now is standard.

Other options include an Iridium satcom radio, Garmin SurfaceWatch runway and taxiway alerting system, and reactive wind-shear warning system.

The cabin also has been upgraded with abrasion-resistant dropped-aisle rails, AC and USB power outlets relocated for more convenient access, and a durable metal tread plate cover for the bottom step of the airstair entry door.

We belted into the left seat with senior demonstration pilot and instructor Luis Fernando C. Berto in the right seat and Rafael Menezes Ricardo along as safety pilot. Chock-full of 266 lb. of popular options, including the eight-seat interior, the aircraft had a 7,563-lb. single-pilot BOW. All the EV’s operating weights have been upped, but the aircraft still had a lean 381-lb. tanks-full payload.

Air-conditioner performance remains one of the Phenom 100 family’s strong points. As soon as we started the right engine and switched on the vapor cycle machine, the cabin cooled quickly. With both engines running, we dialed down the air-conditioner fan speed in less than five minutes.

For our flight, our zero fuel weight was 7,900 lb. and we had only 1,755 lb. of fuel in the tanks. We started engines at Embraer’s Melbourne facility (elev. 33 ft.) on the warm 28°C afternoon at a ramp weight of 9,655 lb., and we computed our takeoff weight at 9,600 lb. Using flaps 1, V1 was 105, VR was 106, V2 was 109, and final segment speed was 126 KIAS. Computed takeoff field length was just over 3,000 ft., with 6,000 ft. available on Runway 09L.

Our planned flight would take us east over the Atlantic and close to several offshore trunk routes used by the air carriers. We requested a direct climb to FL 410 from Miami Center. Keeping us safely clear of those busy sectors proved to be a challenge. But, once again, U.S. ATC proved that it sets the world standard for flexibility and professionalism. Our controllers vectored us several times off-course and only interrupted our direct climb for very brief periods.

We mostly used a 180 KIAS/Mach 0.55 climb profile. OATs averaged close to ISA+10° until we climbed through FL 380, where the air mass cooled sharply. We reached FL 410 in 25 minutes. At a weight of 9,049 lb. and at ISA-5°C, the aircraft settled into a 374 KTAS cruise while burning 640 lb./hr. Embraer’s preliminary flight-planning guide predicted a max cruise speed of 372 KTAS on 655 lb./hr. for an ISA-4°C OAT.

Down at FL 330 and at ISA+8°C, the aircraft trued at 401 KTAS on 860 lb./hr. The book predicted 394 KTAS while burning 863 lb./hr. Assuming standard day conditions, the book predicted a cruise speed of 406 KTAS. At FL 300, top cruise speed should be 412 KTAS. That’s only 8 kt. slower than the class-leading HA-420 HondaJet.

We took off our headsets to check cabin sound levels. Oh, what an improvement over the original Phenom 100 we flew in Brazil. This aircraft seemingly sops up noise just as well as Citation M2, one of the quietest light jets we’ve flown. But HA-420 HondaJet’s near-silent cabin remains in a class of its own.

We headed back to Melbourne, passing north of the airport for a left downwind entry to Runway 09L. Our VREF landing speed was 95 KIAS at a landing weight of 8,600 lb. We had 14 kt. of left crosswind, but the aircraft handled it nicely. In the flare, we used a little wing-down/top-rudder slip and touched down gently on centerline.

Phenom 100 EV’s breaking performance remains an opportunity for improvement. Six revisions of software for the Meggitt Brake Control Unit have yet to tame its attention-riveting yaw swings if precisely even pressure isn’t simultaneously applied to both pedals. BCU Rev. 7, due for release in 2017, incorporates a number of enhancements that will tame the behavior of the brakes, predicts Embraer.

Other product improvements on the road map include Garmin Flight Stream Wi-Fi/Bluetooth connectivity between pilots’ tablet computers and the avionics system and Phenom 300 style full-width, fold-out tray tables for passengers.

Phenom 100 EV is making its NBAA debut. It has much improved hot-and-high airport capabilities, stronger climb and cruise performance, and a higher tanks-full payload. Look for it at the NBAA Static Display at Orlando Executive Airport.