Luxury you can charge
I was immensely skeptical at the idea of a hybrid Range Rover, especially after not-so-flattering reviews of it came out some two years ago. As a late adoptee to the technology, the marque simply had a lot of catching up to do and it didn’t seem like eight years was enough to make up for the lost time.
But that may change with this P400e; the new plug-in hybrid version of the Range Rover. Yes, the full-size Range Rover.
The only exterior clue that the unit is a hybrid is the P400e badge at the rear right below the trim’s name, which is interestingly called ‘Vogue’. The badge is interesting, denoting being updated in terms of fashion, even though Range Rover has stayed very true to its design in the last 5 decades.
Yes, there have been a lot of design changes here and there but its shape has essentially remained unchanged through four generations, making the Range Rover one of the most recognizable vehicles, regardless of generation.
The squarish body has been its sort of trademark look but thankfully, the newer the model, the smoother the edges and corners become, which in turn softens up its general rough-and-tough image.
Another thing that improved through the years is the rake angle of the front glass. It’s much lower now than it was before and that should contribute to better aerodynamics (and increased fuel economy), which to me is just a close second to its improved looks.
Compared to the size of this large SUV, the grille looks amusingly petite. It isn’t elaborate in any way but it does conceal the charging port on the upper right corner of this plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.
In keeping along with the design, the shape of the front (matrix LED headlights with daytime running lamps) and rear lights mimic the boxy body.
Along the sides are basic sharp character lines and the familiar L-shaped accent that starts from the A-pillar and terminates at the back. When in profile view and the vehicle using Access mode, the air suspension puts it at its lowest setting but don’t be deceived because the max water-wading depth of this vehicle is 900 mm; superb numbers for a hybrid. Other modes are Normal and Off-Road.
At the rear, there's a roof spoiler, the brand spelled out neatly on the dual tailgate, and the dual chrome tailpipes at the bottom. The whole exterior looks reserved, while the silver trims wrapped around the body make it look more elegant and sophisticated. If there’s one thing about it I would change, I’d take away the shark’s fin antenna and just use one that’s built into the windshield for a more streamlined look.
It’s mostly a shade of cream that dominates the cabin. I don’t know what it’s called but I’m sure it’s something fancy because Range Rover has this knack for naming things like how the seats use Windsor leather while the veneer’s shade is called Shadow Walnut and finally, the headliner is called Ivory Morzine. It just adds a touch of class and pride when a manufacturer gives certain components a name.
As the manufacturing process still conforms to UK standards, the seats only coming with a heating function, which is useless in the Philippines. What is awesome though is the front seats come with a super 20-way adjustment and memory function, and the second row has a power-recline feature.
These seats feel big like I should fill out about 20-30 pounds more to get a snug fit. For reference, I’m 5’7” and about 150 pounds. They’re very comfy while still retaining firmness to help keep the driver’s good posture. And that’s another thing, 2.5 hours of driving in traffic in this vehicle and I didn’t feel weary. Plus, it’s one of only a few SUVs that puts the seat in a higher position that I can actually see the whole hood and the way it slopes down to the front.
One of the most innovative cabin features is the multi-function steering wheel, specifically the touch interface. Instead of regular buttons, it has a small touch panel that changes icons depending on the operation. So, the +/- buttons for audio will change to arrow icons if you’re fiddling with items in the TFT virtual instrument cluster.
The other is the 10-inch Touch Pro Duo (dual screen) infotainment system. On top is the monitor that displays audio sources, connectivity settings, and even the output of any or all of the 360 surround cameras while the bottom displays the climate control system and the interface to access its many driving modes. It’s so engaging to look at but the only drawback is it could contribute to driver distraction.
Audio comes out of a Meridian Surround Sound System with 19 speakers and a total of 825 watts. Audiophiles will love the fact that there are four speaker settings – stereo, Meridian, Dolby, and DTS.
It also has two USB ports, a couple of 12V sockets (one in the upper glovebox and the other in the center console), configurable ambient lighting, and three-zone automatic climate control.
The color combo in the cabin creates a great ambiance but that cream hue will be tricky to maintain so I suggest great care in keeping it tidy and clean.
As a PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle), it gets two propulsion options – a 2.0L four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine, and an 85kW electric motor. It’s a much smaller engine than what’s typically in a Range Rover but its total output is higher than its 3.0L V6 counterpart at 404 PS and 640 Nm of torque.
It starts out mild-mannered and extremely silent as it only uses battery power, but even when the engine kicks in, the vehicle stays calm and barely bucks while throttle response becomes more sensitive, plus cabin insulation keeps all the ruckus down to a hush.
There is no shift shock, no turbo lag when I put the pedal to the meta...or carpet. The cooperation between the engine and the electric motor is seamless and it actually feels like there’s one big block under the hood instead of a downsized engine and an electric motor.
Its pull is excellent considering this vehicle weighs 2.5 tons, and steering feedback is light as well. If not for its size and width, you could be tricked into thinking you’re behind the wheel of a subcompact.
While power delivery was good, I wanted to see how its SLA double-wishbone with virtual swivel axis front suspension and integral link rear suspension (both of which are electronic air systems) handles the weight and momentum of this vehicle around corners and winding roads.
I’m happy to say that its performance is worthy of its Php 11.990 million price tag. The roads up Tanay are riddled with all manner of twists and turns at various degrees of tilt, and yet this vehicle kept its poise and grip on the road with ease despite considerable speed on the way up and down. It was so balanced that even when I half expected a hint of body roll, the dashboard and chassis stayed level to the ground and it swallowed up bends like a whale taking in krill.
If that’s not good enough, here comes the best part. Fuel consumption is a thrifty 0.9 liters per 100 kilometers (which is something like 111 km/l) when using EV (electric vehicle) mode, while normal driving settings still give it an awesome 12 liters per 100 kilometers (converts to 8.3 km/l).
I know all this sounds too good to be true, but we can only really say what we see (and feel) in every review. This is an amazing full-size plug-in hybrid electric sports utility vehicle that’s put together just right – great handling, remarkable power, superb comfort, high efficiency, and an overall spectacular drive.
At the very least, it should help the brand change the market’s notion about how their vehicles are gas guzzlers while staying relevant in a market looking for increased efficiency and cleaner emissions. Plus, they keep their core clients happy by maintaining the same high level of luxury and performance.
And to show everyone the company’s new direction, the PHEV variant, loaded with all the whiz-bang and tech, even comes in cheaper than the 3.0L V6 trim which is priced at Php 12.490 million.
There are so many ways to go wrong in spending Php 12 million, so if you have some just lying around (or buried in the backyard) and you fancy yourself an SUV, getting the Range Rover PHEV is the right move.