Ahh, the ubiquitous Range Rover, loved for decades by so many for its off-road mastery and palpable history of adventure, yet so derided for being ill-used as a town car.
I remember the eighties well, when every chap that came into some money spent their first windfall on a Range Rover with black leather interior. It was the status car for a decade celebrated for profligate spending and conspicuous wealth. Not to mention the big hair, shoulder pads and very dodgy pop music. Yes, the Range Rover has been going since the ’70s but it was the eighties that saw it move from the farm and country estate to the narrow streets of Chelsea.
However the Vogue SE P400e PHEV is no ordinary Range Rover, but a hybrid, an electric beauty of leviathan proportions, with eco-friendly credentials (85.1-74.7 mpg). Sporting an electric motor of 141 bhp to accompany the rather lovely Ingenium 2 L 4 cylinder 404 bhp engine with a torque of 640Nm. Add to this a top speed of 137 miles, plus a 20-30 mile range just on electric. Nippy too, for a car weighing 2.6 tonnes, going from 0-62 mph in just 6.8 seconds. The 4 cylinder engine is a little marvel, smooth and powerful. Jaguar use the same, and it produces peak torque right at 1,200 rpm, which is superb.
PHEV stands for Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle, another acronym to add to the vastly increasing electric lexicon. So, is the Range Rover now a bonafide country hippy, loving nature and preserving our environment?
Well, yes actually, the hybrid system may only be halfway there, but it is a gateway car for those petrol heads that need gentle easing into this new technology. Like the extreme idiots that joke about Greta Thunberg, no need to name names.
Viscerally I prefer the idea of a fully electric car, but the hybrid is a convenient way of getting the best of both worlds. Use the electric motor around town and on short journeys, spend nary a penny on petrol and no poisonous exhausts. But if you need to go on tour, you’re covered and never need to worry about waiting around for a charge. A brilliant way to get an older audience comfortable with an electric powertrain and recharging. I loved plugging the cable from the garage into the front of the grille and watching it refuel for peanuts. There are many buyers who are happy to spend £100K on a car, but still hate wasting money every week on petrol, just burning it into the atmosphere.
If you couldn't care less about the electric side of things, you can have the 5 L V8 565 bhp supercharged petrol engine in the SVAutobiography Dynamic, that will get you from 0-62 mph in 5.4 seconds, which starts to get interesting acceleration wise. However, the advantage of being able to glide 20 miles, without petrol, may outweigh the additional power and acceleration of the bigger V8 engine.
The Range Rover P400e takes eight hours to fully recharge from a standard power outlet or under three hours from a fast charger. Plus it won’t let you drive off without unplugging the cable, so that’s a few thousand call-outs avoided. The recharge point is hidden behind a plasticky front grille, a convenient placement for easy access. There is also a useful Save function which means you can keep the electric power for preferred parts of your journey, like in town.
I drove journeys of thirty miles or more and didn't stop at a petrol station once. The advertised electric-only range is 31 miles, but in real-world usage it was more like twenty, but that is enough for all the minor errands. I normally fill up my run-around once to twice a week. I reckon this Range Rover would need only monthly visits to the forecourt. Bloody joy.
The Range Rover has kept its rugged and powerful good looks over the years. A car that has achieved legendary renown as “the” luxury SUV, almost the generic term for them, sells well because people know what to expect. A new aluminium stripe zigs down the side but otherwise it is still essentially unchanged from the ’70s. The exterior body style could do with updating yet it is reassuringly familiar and on-brand for buyers who want more of the same.
The interior is plush, like a country manor. In fact, the black leather interior makes me think of those specialist gentlemen’s clubs that cater to a very select type of clientele, perhaps with a fondness for stern nanny’s. Whilst that’s not my thing, it is fabulous in a car of this size and gravitas. The boot opens with impressive alacrity, with key fob control, both from the top and bottom, revealing cavernous space, enough for a pack of dogs, a herd of wildebeest or a complete new kitchenware range from Peter Jones.
The seats are made to take even the largest man or woman, so soft that you sink into them like a waterbed. They are colossal and plush, like beanbags, electrically adaptable to any possible shape. A hippopotamus could drive this car in comfort. The rear three seats are also adjustable, with legroom to spare, and will lean back, which is rare. This Rover is made to go the distance in comfort. There is a seriously effective fridge hidden in the armrest twixt the two front seats that will freeze your hand off once on. Accessible for the driver or passenger to grab a cold water or three. It will even store a bottle of champagne for the safari picnic.
The Touch Pro Duo is intuitive with sizeable clear diagrams for every selection, you do need to push quite hard, but it is reassuringly solid. The two displays on the dash make it super easy to surf with smart oversized twin knobs that cut into the screen, a very pleasing design. The front chairs heat both seat and back, which is glorious in winter.
Performance is confident, smooth and powerful and whilst the acceleration is competent at lower speeds, it comes into its own at the 50-70 mph mark, so you can swiftly swap lanes or overtake the slow and non-furious.
The steering is mushy, in fact, half the time the car seems to know where to go however you spin the wheel. This is designed for off-road, you want the steering to absorb the knocks, not you. There are settings for dynamic, comfort, eco, grass/gravel/snow, mud ruts, sand and rock crawl. This is where Range Rover has always made its mark. Off-road it is masterful and steady, the four-cylinder engine easily copes with sand, gravel, muddy fields, hills and even over fairly large rocks. Plus it has an excellent turning circle for such a behemoth.
Braking of course stores power back in the battery, so even slowing down gives you more range. I love regenerative braking, it makes my day that every time I slow down, I make a net fuel gain. Clearly, my days have a low excitement bar… but moving on.
The all-wheel-drive gets you over every terrain in all conditions, but also means it corners way better than you’d expect from such a tall car. Yes, there is lean, but it seems to ignore this and stick to the road anyway. I have taken Range Rovers on hill and speed tracks which is not their forte by any means, but they behave surprisingly well on real roads.
Safety is another major aspect of this car, you are cosseted and protected from all sides, a country house driving amongst cottages. With that in mind, drive carefully.
There is a reason people just buy these without looking at another car, they are the original SUV, the off-road powerhouse that can be trusted in all conditions and yet also convey that all-important status of discreet luxury and success. Let’s face it, in a single car you get comfort, off-road poise, safety, reliability, space and a certain cachet that welcomes you into the upper echelons of society. A Range Rover can park contentedly next to a Ferrari at the polo, no need to leave it around the corner, even if it’s not this year.
£94,100 On The Road.
Range Rover P400e Vogue SE PHEV:
0-62mph in just 6.8 secs
Ev Only Range 25-24 miles
Top speed of 137 mph
ZF 8 speed automatic
2l four cylinder P400e Petrol PHEV
Electric motor 141bhp (275 Nm)
Range Rover P400e Vogue SE Specifications
Engine: 2.0L P400e Petrol PHEV
Power Hp/rpm: 404 / 1,500 – 4,000
Electric Motor – Power HP: 141
Torque (Nm/rpm): 640 / 1,500 – 3,500
Electric Motor - Torque: 275
Capacity (cc): 1,997
Fuel Economy – WLTP
WLTP: Low mpg (1/100km) 85.1 (3.3)
Consumption: High mpg (1/100km) 74.7 (3.8)
NEDCeq CO₂ Emissions: 72
Acceleration (secs) 0-60 mph (0-100km/h) : 6.4 (6.8)
Maximum Speed mph (km/h): 137 (220)
Options Fitted To This Car
• Loire Blue Metallic Paint– no cost option
• Ebony Interior
• Ebony Morzine Headlining - £325
• Privacy Glass - £400
Vogue SE – in addition to standard spec
• Terrain Response 2
• All Terrain Progress Control (ATPC)
• 21" 7 split-spoke ‘Style 7001’ with Silver finish
• Reduced section alloy spare wheel
• Atlas grille mesh foil and inner surround with Narvik Black frame
• Atlas front bumper accent
• Atlas door handle surrounds
• Satin body-coloured front bumper vent finisher
• Satin body-coloured side vent graphic and side accent graphic
• Corris Grey tow eye cover
• Atlas tailgate finisher
• Heated windscreen
• Laminated front and rear side glass
• Power fold, heated door mirrors with memory and approach lights
• Auto-dimming exterior mirrors
• Matrix LED headlights with signature DRL
• Perforated Semi-Aniline leather seats
• 20-way heated and cooled front seats with power recline heated and cooled rear seats
• Configurable Ambient Interior Lighting
• Soft door close
• Kalahari veneer
• Morzine headlining
• Heated steering wheel
• Carpet mats
• Twin-blade sunvisors with illuminated vanity mirrors
• Aluminium treadplates with Range Rover script
• Three-zone Climate Control
• Powered Gesture Tailgate
• Keyless Entry
• Meridian™ Sound System
• Digital TV
• Lane Departure Warning
• Blind Spot Monitor
• Driver Condition Monitor
• Traffic Sign Recognition and Adaptive
• Speed Limiter
• Clear Exit Monitor
• 360 Parking Aid
• Rear Traffic Monitor