Can the Range Rover make sense with Plug-in hybrid petrol/electric power? Does it make the most sense in this form? Jonathan Crouch decides.
Ten Second Review
If you like the idea of owning a Range Rover but find the thought of running one to be slightly at odds with the kind of corporate responsibility statement you want to make, then this P400e petrol/electric Plug-in hybrid version could be just about perfect for you. It offers a combined power output of 404hp, a claimed all-electric driving range of 25 miles and an official fuel consumption figure better than a Toyota Prius. It's hard not to be intrigued.
The Range Rover pioneered the rarified Super-Luxury large SUV segment, but it no longer has it to itself, following fresh class arrivals in recent years from Bentley, Lamborghini and Mercedes. In response, Land Rover significantly updated this iconic model for the 2018 year with an all-new interior, extra safety and infotainment technology and, perhaps most importantly, the option of the Plug-in petrol/electric powertrain that we're going to test here.
As a result, this flagship Range Rover model line can claim a lighter eco-footprint, a properly limousine-like rear cabin and performance that can even approach that of a high performance luxury saloon. And yes, it'll be even better if you're setting off across the Serengeti or exploring the Amazon. It'll be, more than ever, one of a kind. As we're about to discover...
On the move in a Range Rover, luxury, comfort, refinement, craftsmanship and outright performance all fuse together as part of this car's imperious progress, whether that be on-turf or on-tarmac. All the available powertrains offer exemplary refinement, but should you select one that adds in electrified assistance, then as you might imagine, this car is particularly quiet. We're referring specifically to the petrol/electric hybrid engine used in the P400e variant we've chosen to test here. This version may only have four cylinders, but it boasts a combined power output of 404PS, a claimed WLTP-rated all-electric driving range of 25 miles and running cost figures that are better than a Toyota Prius.
This version employs a 300hp version of JLR's familiar 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol engine working in concert with an 85kW electric motor powered by a 13.1kWh lithium-ion battery. Yes, as previously mentioned, it's a four cylinder powertrain but if fellow Range Rover owners scoff at that, you might want to remind them that this supposedly eco-minded variant develops a 640Nm torque figure that out-strips the base version of the supercharged 5.0-litre petrol V8. Sixty from rest is dispatched in just 6.4s - quicker even than the top D300 diesel - and the top speed is higher than you'd get from a black pump-fuelled model too, at 137mph. All of which should provide sufficient reassurance, should you need it, than in choosing this P400e model, you're not being fobbed off with an engine more suited to an Evoque. Which is just as well, given that this particular derivative weighs over two and a half tonnes - over 300kgs more than the base TDV6 diesel version.
Design and Build
This is every inch a Range Rover. You'd know it as such even without a glance at the elegant badge work. Which is as it should be. Gerry McGovern's design team committed early on to protect the visual characteristics that have always made this car what it is: the wrap-around clamshell bonnet; the deep glass area; the low waist and straight side feature line with no wedge or step up in side styling; the close wheel arch cuts; and the two-piece tailgate.
Seated commandingly up-front amongst the beautiful leathers, polished metal, deep pile carpet and glossy surfacing, you'll find yourself in a cabin that looks as classy and cosseting as ever. It features clean, elegant controls, wider re-designed leather seats and the new-era 'Touch Pro Duo' infotainment system we first saw on the Velar, complete with its two high-definition 10-inch central touchscreens. Anything this Panasonic-developed set-up can't tell you will almost certainly be covered off by the digitally customisable 12.3-inch so-called 'Interactive Driver Display' you view through the imposing four-spoke stitched multi-function steering wheel. In the rear, there's over a metre of leg-stretching room - and you can extend that by a further 186mm if you go for the long wheelbase body style. And though the boot can't offer the option of extra fold-out chairs, it offers a huge 909-litre capacity.
Market and Model
There's a premium of about £7,000 to go from the base D300 diesel Range Rover to one with this P400e Plug-in hybrid petrol/electric powertrain, which means starting prices for the base 'Vogue'-spec model beginning from around £90,000. Bear in mind that the same engineering can also be found in a Range Rover Sport P400e model costing around £73,000. 'Vogue', 'Westminster', 'Vogue SE', 'Autobiography' and 'Range Rover Fifty' trim levels are also available for Range Rover buyers, the latter two options available with the lengthened long wheelbase bodystyle. Here, the price could be anything up to around £170,000.
It's hard to find really direct rivals. The base 'Vogue' P400e model costs just over £20,000 more than large-segment Plug-in hybrid SUVs like Audi's Q7 e-tron, Porsche's Cayenne E-Hybrid and Volvo's XC90 T8 Twin Engine, but cars like those aren't really from the same class as this one and are more directly targeted by the P400e Plug-in Hybrid version of the Range Rover Sport (which prices from just over £70,000). You've to turn to the Bentley Bentayga for a truer rival - that car can be ordered with Plug-in Hybrid tech, but at prices that would only make sense if you were to be considering a P400e Range Rover in top 'SVAutobiography' trim.
Cost of Ownership
The P400e model's sophisticated drivetrain combination produces an eye-catching set of figures - 84.8mpg on the combined cycle, 75g/km of CO2 (based on the WLTP test) and an all-electric 31-mile journeying range, should you select the provided 'EV' driving mode which locks the vehicle down into milk float mobility. The stats in question are, as with most Plug-in hybrids, straight out of fairy land. In our time with this car, we probably averaged about 25mpg and sometimes struggled to ease the all-electric range much beyond double figures, even with quite conservative driving. The key thing though, is that the government believes them, hence a set of Plug-in hybrid incentive figures that for some buyers, will make compelling reading.
Your first year of vehicle excise duty - what used to be called 'road tax' - will be much lower compared to the closest-performing diesel Range Rover. More importantly, there's a big potential monthly BIK tax saving given that this car sits in the 20% bracket - as opposed to the 37% bracket for the next-cleanest D300 diesel model. Charging takes as little as 2 hours 45 minutes if you have the appropriate garage wallbox and on the move, there's a 'Save' option that'll allow you to save battery charge for town driving.
In its much improved current form, the Range Rover finally has a cabin with technology befitting its exalted price tag, being better connected, safer and even more luxurious. The main change here though, has been the introduction of the optional Plug-in Hybrid powertrain we've been trying here. It won't work for everyone but the right kind of buyer will find the running cost savings that come with this engine to be utterly compelling.
Much has changed then but, thank goodness, at the same time, nothing here is really different. Drive this car through a river, drive it to the opera: it's as happy either way, beautifully built, gorgeously finished and - with the right engine - astonishingly quick. True, this Range Rover is never quite going to be all things to all people, but it has perhaps moved as close to fulfilling that remit as any modern car is ever likely to get. Makes you proud to be British doesn't it.
By Jonathan Crouch
So many cars claim to be unique but the Range Rover really is, a car that continued to set the standard in the super-luxury SUV sector in its fourth generation form. Launched in 2012, then substantially improved in 2018 to create the model we're going to look at here, this aluminium-bodied 'L405'-series design offered the option of Plug-in hybrid power and, in all its guises, claimed to be able to properly combine the imperious qualities of a top luxury saloon with off piste abilities that would be limited only by the skills of its driver. A Rolls Royce in the rough, there's nothing quite like it.
5dr Luxury SUV (2.0 petrol PHEV, 3.0-litre TDV6 diesel, 3.0-litre SDV6 diesel, 4.4-litre SDV8 diesel, 5.0-litre V8 petrol [Vogue, Vogue SE, Autobiography, SVAutobiography])
Sometimes, being the best just isn't good enough. Take the Range Rover. With a pedigree over four distinct generations going all the way back to 1970, it's always been, without question, the 'finest 4x4xfar'. Yet the challenges remain. How to remain the world's leading luxury SUV while appearing credibly eco-centric? How to make further forays into the market for super luxury saloons against rivals that don't have to be able cross the Congo or see you through Siberia? And how to reach out to a whole new group of buyers from both segments who would never previously have considered a Range Rover? This improved fourth generation model was tasked with doing all this - and much more.
An extreme challenge certainly - but then this model line is well used to those. Over the decades, we've driven them all over the world, from Icelandic glaciers to the Australian wilderness, from up in the Colorado Rockies to downtown in Beverly Hills. But even we were wondering how on earth the brand might meet the fresh and testing demands of a very different era. This 'L405'-series MK4 model, first launched back in 2012, offered an insight into how the Solihull maker planned to reinterpret the Range Rover formula for a fresh generation of buyers and deal with those challenges.
Like the Seventies original, it was clearly revolutionary - and for very much the same reason. A lightweight aluminium body structure set Spencer King's very first Range Rover apart over half a century ago and this plutocratic SUV model's adoption of much the same thing gave this car a credible shot at all its stated goals. The lighter bodyweight meant it could be larger, faster and more responsive at the same time as being more efficient, cheaper to run and better equipped. All of this was important in justifying this car's 'Super-Luxury' SUV status that positioned it a cut above the ordinary large luxury 4x4s that Solihull targeted with its lesser Range Rover Sport. The Range Rover pioneered this rarified segment, but by the 21st century's second decade, it no longer had it to itself, following fresh class arrivals from Bentley, Lamborghini and Mercedes.
In response, Land Rover significantly updated this iconic model for the 2018 year with an all-new interior, extra safety and infotainment technology and, perhaps most importantly, the option of a Plug-in petrol/electric powertrain. As a result, this flagship Range Rover model line could claim a lighter eco-footprint, a properly limousine-like rear cabin and performance that, with the right engineering package, could even approach that of a super-saloon. And yes, it'll be even better if you're setting off across the Serengeti or exploring the Amazon. It sold until the arrival of the fifth generation model in late 2021.
What You Get
This is every inch a Range Rover. You'd know it as such even without a glance at the elegant badge work. Which is as it should be. Gerry McGovern's design team committed early on to protect the visual characteristics that have always made this car what it is: the wrap-around clamshell bonnet; the deep glass area; the low waist and straight side feature line with no wedge or step up in side styling; the close wheel arch cuts; and the two-piece tailgate. Specific changes made to this model for the 2018 model year mainly centre around the revised front grille (Land Rover had to redesign it to allow for the insertion of the charging port needed for the new PHEV model). The bumper was subtly re-styled too, featuring widened vent blades.
You'd be disappointed if you didn't have to climb up into a Range Rover - that's part of its appeal. Seated commandingly up-front amongst the beautiful leathers, polished metal, deep pile carpet and glossy surfacing, you'll find yourself in a cabin that looks as classy and cosseting as you'd want. This post-2018 model featured clean, elegant controls, wider re-designed leather seats and the improved 'Touch Pro Duo' infotainment system we first saw on the Velar, complete with its two high-definition 10-inch central touchscreens. Anything that Panasonic-developed set-up can't tell you will almost certainly be covered off by the digitally customisable 12.3-inch so-called 'Interactive Driver Display' you view through the imposing four-spoke stitched multi-function wheel.
And the rear? Well this was an important area for Land Rover to get right in this car, hence the 42mm of extra wheelbase length added into this fourth generation model. Even in the short wheelbase model, it's easy to get comfortable once inside, with (as standard) heated upholstery and a powered reclining backrest for longer journeys. There's over a metre of leg-stretching room - and you can extend that by a further 186mm if you go for the long wheelbase body style.
As usual with a Range Rover, there's a classic split tailgate, which is power-operated and gesture-controlled with a wave of your foot beneath the bumper. Once activated, a 909-litre luggage bay is revealed. You'll get a little less if you go for the PHEV variant, but the space available still out-shines what's on offer from many key rivals and is very accessible thanks to buttons which can activate the air suspension to lower the floor height. More buttons electronically flatten the rear seat backs, freeing up as much as 2,360-litres of cargo room.
What You Pay
Please contact us for an exact up-to-date valuation.
What to Look For
Most of the serious problems with the 'L405'-series fourth generation Range Rover were restricted to early pre-2015 models. These issues tended to be in the electrical and body fit areas. Throughout though, the SDV8 4.4-litre diesel V8 has proved to be a slightly more reliable choice in comparison to the smaller 3.0-litre TD V6 diesel unit. The V8 diesel doesn't suffer from the smaller engine's crankshaft bearing issues, nor does it need an expensive timing belt. We have come across issues though, across the available engines with things like EGR valves and turbos that have exhibited breather oil leaks. Getting a new modified breather pipe fitted could cost you up to £850. One owner reported exhaust fumes entering the cabin when the air conditioning was put into auto mode. Plus we've heard of fuel tank sensor faults. Overall, though, the engines seem to be decently reliable.
We have heard of owners who complained that occasionally the car's rotary gearshift knob didn't pop up. If you're planning to keep the car for a while, it's recommended that you should carry out a transfer box and diff oil change at 30,000 miles to avoid future problems. Otherwise, the issues tend to be niggly little things. Poor bonnet and boot alignment for example; alignment issues with the rear doors; poorly fitted rubber trim around the doors; and leather on the seats being loose and ill-fitted. Don't believe misleading reports suggesting that things like brake discs, brake pads and wiper blades wear quickly: they're actually pretty durable.
What else? Well check if a tow bar has been fitted and also check the tyres for odd wear patterns. Although the Range Rover Sport is very capable off road, there are limits to its ground clearance, so inspect the underside for signs of damage to the suspension, exhaust and front valance. The volume TDV6 diesel engine is a tough unit and if you're test driving the car on a cold day, don't be worried if the Stop/Start system fails to kick in. The engine is programmed to keep running at temperatures below three degrees Celsius.
(based on 2018 Range Rover 4.4 SDV8 - approx excl. VAT) A fuel filter costs in the £124 bracket and an air filter will cost around £38. An oil filter will be in the £23 bracket. Front brake pads sit in the £65 to £123 bracket. For rear brake pads, think around £64. Front brake discs are around £106. A wiper blade will be around £7. A pollen filter will be in the £10-£42 bracket. An LED tail lamp will cost around £470.
On the Road
On the move in a Range Rover, luxury, comfort, refinement, craftsmanship and outright performance all fuse together as part of this car's imperious progress, whether that be on-turf or on-tarmac. All the available powertrains offer exemplary refinement, but should you select one that adds in electrified assistance, then as you might imagine, this car is particularly quiet. We're referring here to the petrol/electric hybrid engine used in the P400e variant. This version may only have four cylinders, but it boasts a combined power output of 404hp, a claimed all-electric driving range of 31 miles and running cost figures (101mpg on the combined cycle (NEDC) and a WLTP CO2 reading of 73g/km) that are better than a Toyota Prius.
Never fear: if you don't feel the need to make some sort of corporate responsibility statement, then more conventional powerplants are still available. Most buyers select one of the diesels, either the base 258hp TDV6 or the 339hp SDV8. There's also a couple of minority-interest supercharged petrol models, either a 340hp 3.0 V6 or a 5.0-litre V8 developing either 525 or 565hp. Whatever your choice of engine, you might find yourself surprised by how adeptly this car tackles tarmac turns at speed - but of course the 2.5-tonne kerb weight has to tell somewhere. So it's better to throttle back, enjoy the commanding driving position and amaze yourself at how easy it is to thread this five metre-long and two metre-wide luxury conveyance down a narrow British country lane. Or indeed down a gnarly forest track. Intelligent 4WD, a low ratio gearbox and Land Rover's peerless 'Terrain Response' driving modes system all combine to preserve this model's reputation for Serengeti superiority. No other vehicle takes this much pride in going where it probably shouldn't.
From princes to politicians, from rock gods to rock climbers, from footballers to farmers, the Range Rover has always appealed to a more diverse group of customers than any other car. As you'd expect it would. This is, after all, far more than just the world's most recognisable Super Luxury SUV. It pioneered the concept of creating four vehicles within one - an exclusive luxury saloon, a weekend leisure vehicle, a high-performance long distance private jet and a working cross-country conveyance.
Of course, such perfection doesn't come without a price, in origin or in ownership. Or without compromise - in poorer handling for example against, say, a super saloon. And in tighter rear cabin space against, say, a luxury limousine. Perhaps that's why you've never previously considered one of these. Maybe you've never driven this fourth generation Range Rover model. If so, consider this if you happen to have the requisite sum to spend on a luxury vehicle of this kind. Sophisticated aluminium underpinnings enabled the creation of a car that's surprisingly sharp to drive, ravishing in the rear and more efficient than you might expect. In short, it might well change your perception of Range Rover motoring.
Drive this car through a river, drive it to the opera: it's as happy either way, beautifully built, gorgeously finished and - with the right engine - astonishingly quick. True, this improved fourth generation Range Rover is never quite going to be all things to all people, but it has perhaps moved as close to fulfilling that remit as any modern car is ever likely to get. Makes you proud to be British doesn't it.