Gas-guzzling SUVs aren’t usually synonymous with eco-friendly vehicles, but the new plug-in Range Rover P400e PHEV Hybrid is here to change all that.
First things first – what exactly is PHEV? PHEV stands for plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, which means the vehicle has an on-board battery that can be charged by a mains source, as well as using an on-board engine and generator.
The new Range Rover Hybrid is the first plug-in hybrid Ranger Rover of its kind. Chief Product Engineer Elizabeth Hill says:
“The P400e brings the benefits of electrification to the legendary capabilities of Range Rover; delivering ultra-low emissions with an EV range of up to 31 miles.”
So in a sense, we can call it the updated 2018 Range Rover, delivering everything we would expect from its diesel or petrol-fuelled predecessors with the added bonus of lower emissions.
The Land Rover Range Rover PHEV is available in two models: the Range Rover PHEV and the Range Rover Sport PHEV, starting from between £72,185 and £87,600 up to an incredible £177,735.
Both of these options are customisable, allowing drivers to choose their engines and performance from a humble 296 bhp 2 litre 4cyl petrol engine right through to a hair-raising 5 litre V8 supercharged petrol engine.
But let’s start with something a little more realistic. Even on the most basic model, the new Range Rover hybrid key specs are pretty impressive – the “electric” Range Rover works by combining the aforementioned engine with a 114bhp electric motor, giving it a total of 398bhp and 472lb of torque.
Before we even set off in the P400e, we can tell that luxury and comfort are not lost on the eco-friendly models.
It’s hard to know where to begin when describing the sheer comfort of this car – firstly, its seats are ample in width and softness, allowing for drivers to customise them into 24 different positions via the door panel.
In keeping with the classic Range Rover designs of the past, it’s steeped in leather and wood panelling, and offers generous head and legroom in the front cabin.
If that wasn’t enough, there is even a hot stone massage function. What more could a stressed-out commuter want?
Passengers are not overlooked either, thanks to back seats reclining back 40 degrees and boasting their own massage functions.
On the outside, the P400e still pays homage to Charles Spencer King’s original Range Rover designs, offering unparalleled views of the road and an all-aluminium monocoque that makes it 39 per cent lighter than its steel equivalent.
That said, there are still new features – around the front we see a new grille and bumper, with the charging port nestled conveniently under a panel that has been subtly integrated into the grille.
Its vent blades are larger than the Velar, while the Range Rover P400e’s price and options make way for a plethora of headlight choices: Premium, Matrix, Pixel and Pixel Laser.
If you’re really pushing the boat out, choose the top spec Pixel Laser, which features 142 individual LEDs combined with four high beam lasers that enable 500m of visibility.
So how does it fare on the road? When it comes to running costs and CO2, the P400e is doubtless an ideal choice, particularly for commuters.
Again, a roaring, luxury plug-in hybrid SUV is not exactly the type of vehicle that we would associate with a morning commute through the city, but when engaged in EV mode, it claims to be able to run up to 31 miles without draining a drip of fuel.
When we consider that the average commute in Britain for drivers is 9.9 miles, that’s potentially a huge saving for those taking the hybrid to work and back every day.
Add this to a friendly £130 per year on road tax and access to zero emissions zones, and the pounds, as they say, will look after themselves.
Of course, cost savings aren’t the only benefit of relying on the electric motor alone – at these times, the engine is virtually silent, while its instant torque allows for a quick getaway (if such a thing exists on a normal commute).
The hybrid is still an SUV, however, and to that end, we also wanted to have some fun with it.
Boasting 0-60mph in just 6.4 seconds, we were out of the city in no time. You’ll certainly notice a difference when you knock it into default parallel hybrid mode; as you move over from EV mode, you may notice the engine struggling somewhat noisily to gain acceleration.
It’s not unpleasant, but for those paying over the odds for the £100k+ models, it’s a minor annoyance.
Once you reach a cruising speed, said annoyance is all but forgotten, and is replaced by a comfortable glide, particularly along country roads. Akin to the Range Rover Velar, its air springs make for a relaxing ride, placing the P400e firmly in the leisurely driving bracket rather than a sporty challenger that takes to sharp corners with ease.
While the improved torque may sharpen the P400e’s off-road ability, again, it’s clear that this is an SUV that’s far better placed in commuter situations. This sets it apart from other models like the Velar, whose quirky features including wading sensors make for an exciting jaunt through corn fields.
For the best fuel economy, take it around town in EV mode, where you’ll enjoy up to 101mpg. At worst, it will average 23mpg on more demanding journeys, so we’d advise you to choose wisely. How fast is the P400e hybrid? At the top end, in a V8 supercharged 5 litre model, you can expect 155mph, but on a more conservative 2 litre model, you’ll reach a humbler speed of 137mph, pretty uneconomically.
Again, like the Range Rover Velar, the P400e has a dual screen on-board computer. These can be used to control the satellite navigation, music and radio, climate control and terrain response, with some handy features including swiping from one screen to another.
On the dashboard computer, you’ll be able to view the battery charge percentage, whereas essential information such as speed and directions is situated conveniently in your eyeline with the 10-inch head up display.
Other slightly gimmicky controls include the gesture response, which, when used correctly, will allow you to retract the panoramic sunroof’s sunblind simply by moving your hand. More of a singer than an actor? Try the Nuance™ voice recognition command system, which helps to control many of the on-board functions such as music and climate control.
Passengers have just as much access to gadgets as drivers; there are a total of 17 charging ports for USB, HDMI and 12V domestic plug sockets, so there shouldn’t be any danger of boredom for those long family journeys. Each passenger can control his or her own temperature, and there are even 10 different ‘ambient interior lighting’ colour options to choose from to provide the ultimate in luxury driving experiences.
Blast your favourite tunes out through the P400e’s Meridian™ surround system, which features 19 front side and rear speakers including a dual channel subwoofer as controlled by the Touch Pro Duo computer. Range Rover promise a “live performance” sound quality here, and they do not under-deliver.
A 360° reverse camera comes as standard, naturally, so parallel parking even the long wheelbase models comes with contemptuous ease.
Luggage space is more generous in the Sport model at 780 litres, reduced to 701 in the standard P400e with the raised boot floor (cutting 46mm of space). On long wheelbase versions, there is up to 186mm of additional rear legroom, but if you’re looking for something lightweight, then the V8 diesel derivative is 250kg lighter than the standard 2,577kg.
Charging takes 7 hours and 30 mins to reach full capacity, which can be reduced to 2 hours and 45 minutes on a faster charger. If you’re cautious about eating up the 31 miles of electric driving mileage too quickly, then pop it into Predictive Energy Optimisation mode, which uses GPS data and your navigation input to maximise fuel economy. You can also hit ‘save’ to hold the battery at a pre-selected charge level, helping you use that extra energy when you need it most.
Technically speaking, this isn’t Range Rover’s first attempt at being eco-friendly. In 2013 they introduced a hybrid powertrain in the form of a diesel-lu Hybrid, but the 2018 model is the first plug-in version of its kind. So does the performance justify the cost?
The P400e is best suited to shorter journeys for fuel economy and cost savings, which are almost the antithesis of standard SUVs. That said, it does still offer an incredibly comfortable drive and all the luxury you’d expect from a Range Rover, so for comfort over speed, we’d give it a solid 8/10.