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Land Rover Range Rover
The Top Gear car review:Land Rover Range Rover
What is it like on the road?
Six different powertrains are available – although some are only available with certain trims or in certain specifications/configurations. The core engine range consists of two diesel engines (a 254bhp 3.0-litre V6 and 334bhp 4.4-litre V8) and three petrols (a 335bhp supercharged V6, the 2.0-litre PHEV and a 5.0-litre V8 with 518 or 557bhp). So far we’ve sampled the facelifted Rangie as a P400e Hybrid and base SDV6, but past experience reveals there’s not a duffer among them.
The P400e claims 101mpg and 64g/km of CO2, which means it’ll be the engine of choice for company car users (who’ll benefit most from the generous tax breaks given to hybrids/low-emission vehicles – the £15 first-year VED bill and 13 per cent BIK rate). It works like most other PHEVs on the market, in so far as it mates a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with an 85kW motor and 13.1kWh lithium-ion battery for 31 miles of all-electric range at speeds of up to 85mph. Total output is 398bhp and 472lb ft, giving 0-60mph in 6.4 seconds and 137mph. This means it’s actually a little faster than the 3.0-litre V6 petrol-engined Range Rover, but all is not as it seems.
See, driving the P400e is an exercise is keeping the internal combustion engine as hushed as possible for two reasons. First is that the less often the petrol engine is forced to fire, the more economical you’re being, and second is that the drone of a four-cylinder engine is not a very – erm – ‘Range Rover-y’ noise. Ask the P400e to gird its loins and actually deliver a sub-7 second sprint to 60mph, and you’re greeted with an inexpensive, weedy noise that feels at odds with the interior in which you’re sitting. So in real terms, it’s a slower thing than other Range Rovers.
But that’s no problem, because the P400e encourages – as indeed do even the most powerful Range Rovers – a very relaxed, laid back driving style that doesn’t trouble the second-half of the rev counter. The steering, brakes and sheer mass make sure of it. When little is asked of the internal combustion engine, it’s whisper quiet. Even under moderate acceleration it’s pretty good, with any trace of four-cyl drone quelled as the car shifts into high-gear once you reach cruising speed. Not perfect, but acceptable given what’s being asked of it.
Naturally there are driving modes. Parallel Hybrid mode is default, and deploys both power sources as the car sees fit (have a destination programmed into the nav, and it’ll take that into account, too). There’s an EV button on the dash that forces the P400e into, you guessed it, EV mode, and a ‘Save’ option in the computer that preserves battery charge for later. Like, say, if the start of your journey is all motorway, but it ends in a city and you want to be able to glide through it silently. Nothing massively new or inventive here, but all good stuff. Charging takes 7.5 hours from a standard household socket, or under 3 if you have access to a 32 amp plug.
This powertrain’s character is actually not dissimilar to a big diesel. Floor it and you can tell the 2.0-litre – an engine now available in every JLR product bar the XJ and I-Pace – is having to work pretty hard to move the Rangie’s substantial weight, but the torque fill of the e-motor makes it feel brawnier than its capacity would have you believe. Avoid hard acceleration and the P400e does a good job of isolating you from the many things going on underneath, and all the transitions are smooth and for the most part seamless. But what it really does is expose what a joyous thing an all-electric Range Rover would be. Some day, maybe.
The ‘SDV6’ diesel is a jolly lovely thing too. This is not as refined an engine as the Germans’ latest six-cylinder diesels, but it’s torquey - there’s something hugely satisfying about the way it surges forth - and powerful enough to haul the big Rangie to 62mph in less than eight seconds. You have to drive it a bit like a fast boat. Or a hydrofoil. Get it up on the plane and you’re good.
More generally, the Range Rover steers with fluidity (although response just off-centre is a bit too sudden), controls its body well via standard air suspension and ‘active lean’ software and for the most part rides with the competence of a limousine. It feels built to take care of everything – whether it’s the King’s Road or a rutted farm track – with the minimum of fuss.
It is also faintly startling to drive off-road for what is still a relatively large and heavy car; this thing will get to places you wouldn’t believe. It’s easy, too. Just leave the Terrain Response II off-road software in auto, and you can cross rivers (up to 900mm), climb mountains and traverse the most treacherous surfaces, all while listening to Radio 4 and wondering what all the fuss is about. Progress and settings can be monitored via one of the many screens, should you so wish.
Land Rover even claims the new hybrid powertrain takes the Range Rover’s “legendary off-road capability…to new heights”, and it has a point. The e-motor works with the low-range gearbox and has no creep speed, allowing precise control of the throttle in sticky situations. And for all the high-voltage stuff going on underneath, the 900mm wading depth is unaffected. But LR does ask you turn the engine on when you’re wading through deep water, just in case…