27.9.2018Range Rover P400e review
There are few cars that look less 'green' than a Range Rover - unless you see one off-road and in the undergrowth. Land Rover has decided to change that impression though, by electrifying its flagship SUV. The P400e is a plug-in hybrid with a good electric range to complement the comfort and refinement offered as standard by the Range Rover. NGC puts one to the test to see just how green it proves to be.
Review by Chris Lilly
The Range Rover is a big car, and a fairly heavy one too, so shoving everything along is a petrol-electric powertrain that produces a combined 404hp. That's produced from a 2.0 litre four-cylinder Ingenium petrol engine, which works alongside an 85 kW electric motor. Power from either powertrain or both is put through an eight-sped automatic gearbox to all four wheels - this is a Land Rover after all. With a hefty 640 Nm of torque available from the system, the Range Rover P400e can complete the 0-62mph sprint in 6.8 seconds when everything is thrown at the road. That's a pretty quick time for a car that weighs 2.5 tonnes. It's very un-Range Rover to test this performance though, as the car is much better being driven in a relaxed manner. The car will pick-up swiftly when required, aided by the instant torque available from the electric motor, but it's at its most comfortable cruising about, when added refinement available from the near-silent electric mode makes for about as relaxing a driving experience as it's possible to buy. Pick up is quick just about any where and in any conditions, and the engine - though noticeable - isn't intrusive when running. It's a victim of its own success really, since the refinement offered in electric mode is so good that the petrol engine is probably more prominent when it kicks in. Brush the throttle though, rather than stamp on it, and the Range Rover P400e has an excellent and versatile powertrain - comfortable crawling about in traffic or at speed on the motorway.
The powertrain might be comfortable in just about every scenario, but the driving dynamics aren't. Essentially, driving a Range Rover is to take on a spot of land yachting - and there are no complaints from this quarter about that. As one who normally prefers a sportier drive, I still loved the wafting capabilities on offer from the Range Rover, and in fact the P400e might be slightly better than the conventionally powered models in this regard. The battery is placed low down in the vehicle, dropping the centre of gravity a little - but we're talking fine margins here. As such, P400e drivers can expect much the same driving experience as any other Range Rover. Around town the sheer size of it means the Range Rover is no commuting specialist. Instead there is a sense that you pummel the roads into submission, with the air suspension ironing out all but the most cavernous of pot-holes or Himalayan of speed bumps. There is plenty of lean when cornering at speed, so the Range Rover is no B-road weapon either. Instead, set the car to a fast road, or take things at a gentler pace on just about any terrain imaginable and the Range Rover will cosset all occupants in a manner that only a Rolls Royce can beat. It's a comfortable, refined, and relaxing way to get about.
The P400e PHEV models have come about at the same time as a refresh for the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport ranges. As such, new lighting at the front, and changes to a few styling details mean the Range Rover looks just about the same as before, but a tiny bit sharper. It's still a great design, unmistakably 'Range Rover', and as natural-looking fording a river as it is parked outside Buckingham Palace. The square-ish styling means there is lots of space inside for all. Those up front will feel as though they actually are at the controls of a yacht, helped in part by the plush captain's chairs. In the back, space is luxurious, and for those really picky about leg-room in the rear, there are long-wheelbase versions available too. The only area where space is impacted upon is the boot, which has a slightly smaller load area than the conventional models because of a raised floor to accommodate the batteries. It works out at about 100 litres less with the seats up, but you will have to be packing a huge amount of kit in the back regularly to feel the need to complain about it. Access is via a split-tailgate, and the boot remains both easy to access and deep.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
The refresh just about seen on the outside is more noticeable in the cabin. The biggest change here is the use of Land Rover's latest infotainment system, which uses the InControl Touch Pro Duo system first seen on the Range Rover Velar. This sees two widescreen touchscreens stacked one on top of the other, the upper one a normal sat-nav/media etc system, and the lower one controlling elements such as the climate control or Terrain Response settings. Other controls include the dials set into the lower screen that change what elements they effect depending on screen or option. For example, they control both the fan speed and temperature settings, with the push of the dial selecting a new function. It all looks good and works well, if not quite as smoothly as rival systems. It's certainly another step forward for the Range Rover though. Elsewhere, the seats are comfortable, controls solid, and general plushness at level 'opulent'. This is an expensive car, but it feels like you are sitting in one of the best cars on the road.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
The true litmus test of a PHEV is how efficient it is when being driven. Much of the above can be written about petrol or diesel versions of the Range Rover - not just the PHEV model - with the only exception really being the silent EV running. As such, Range Rover's P400e must perform well in electric mode to make sure it holds its own in what is a surprisingly busy market for those looking at large SUV PHEVs - though granted the Range Rover is in a class above all of them. Official economy figures are quoted at 72 g/km CO2, 91.1 MPG, and an electric range of 31 miles. I found that a range of about 23-25 miles depending on driving style is easily possible. The Range Rover P400e will cover 20 miles or so at motorway speeds, but can comfortably top 25 miles if sticking around town.
By the end of my time with it, the average fuel economy on the trip computer was showing 76.6 MPG after a range of different journeys - and few sticking within the realistic 25 mile limit of electric-only driving. That's comfortably better than the mid-40's MPG quoted for the next most efficient Range Rover, available with the SDV6 diesel. Covering fewer miles between charges saw economy figures in the 80-90 MPG range, and the worst I saw was a figure in the 60's MPG, on a trip of more than 100 miles. I charged regularly, but only when convenient and when the car would be parked up anyway. As such, the Range Rover P400e is around twice as efficient as the diesel version's real-world economy scores, and can be even more so if trips are focused more on local routes.
To tax, the Range Rover will cost £15 for the first year rate (included in the car's OTR) and then £440 for the following five years because it costs more than £40,000 for the Premium Rate. It does qualify for the £10 Alternative Fuel Discount though. Company car drivers will likely be tempted to the P400e over the petrol or diesel options, with a BIK rate of 16% for this financial year, and then 19% for the next two FYs. Considering all other Range Rovers are taxed at the top 37% BIK rate, there are considerable savings to be made by switching to the PHEV for some.
Unsurprisingly, the Range Rover P400e is the greenest model in the Range Rover line-up, and joint greenest in the Land Rover range alongside the identically powered Range Rover Sport P400e. The ability to cover a decent number of miles on electric power only means the P400e can be extremely green over shorter journeys. To help, there are the usual array of plug-in features. Regenerative braking is pitched well in terms of trade-off between regen strength and coasting. There are options for the driver to select electric mode, save the battery's charge, or let the car balance power in hybrid mode. To charge, the Range Rover is fitted with a 7.2 KW on-board charger for faster topping up than many PHEVs. This will charge the 13.1 kWh battery in less than three hours when connected to a fast charge point, and is plugged in to the inlet sited behind the right-hand section of the car's grille. Despite the Range Rover P400e's economy figures meeting OLEV's Category 3 requirements - emissions of 50-75 g/km and at least 20 mile electric range - it doesn't qualify for the Plug-in Car Grant because the starting price for all models is in excess of the £60,000 threshold. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 54.
Standard equipment levels are as good as you would hope for from a car that starts at £87,000 in PHEV specification. Fitted to all Range Rover P400e models are Land Rover's suite of off-road driving systems, including Hill Descent Control, Cornering Brake Control, and a twin-speed transfer box. Also fitted are an acoustic laminated windscreen, leather trim, 20-inch alloys, automatic wipers and lights, LED lights, cruise control, parking sensors front and rear with rear parking camera, powered gesture tailgate, panoramic glass roof, 12.3-inch digital driver's instrument panel, chilled centre console compartment, and Land Rover's Touch Pro Duo twin screen infotainment system with sat-nav, voice control, DAB, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity. Move up from Vogue to Vogue SE tested and items such as three-zone climate control, keyless entry, soft door close, Meridian stereo, digital TV, a suite of safety systems, Land Rover's Terrain Response 2 system, 21-inch alloys, electric and heated/cooled front seats & heated/cooled rear seats, heated windscreen, 360 parking aid, rear traffic monitor, and laminated side and rear glass are included. This last feature helps effectively double glaze the car for an extremely quiet interior. Added to the test car were different 21-inch alloys with a gloss black finish, three-pin plug socket in the boot, rear privacy glass, and black pack trim to replace the exterior chrome. Those wanting more luxury can pick Autobiography trim, or opt for the long-wheelbase versions.
Yes the Range Rover P400e is a big, heavy car, but it's also got a good PHEV powertrain that has clearly been well designed and engineered. The range available on a single charge will cover a number of regular trips that drivers make, and even extending that distance by more than double will still see fuel economy scores that significantly beat a diesel's. Considering many Range Rover drivers run to the shops or take the children to school regularly as part of their mileage, this set-up will work very well; and company car drivers will be much better off picking the P400e over conventionally powered model. It's expensive, but then the Range Rover sits in the luxury car market, and therefore is about par for the course. Well appointed, extremely refined, and relaxing to drive, the Range Rover is made better by being able to drive silently on electric power, and will suit just about all Range Rover buyers, other than very high-mileage drivers.
Model tested: Range Rover P400e Vogue SE
Body-style: Large SUV
Engine / CO2: 2.0 litre petrol engine and electric motor / 72 g/km
Trim grades: Vogue, Vogue SE, Autobiography - LWB: Autobiography and SVAutobiography
P400e on-road price: from £86,965. Price as tested £93,465
Warranty: Three year / unlimited mileage
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 Stars