Range Rover P400e Autobiography
Is the handsome new Range Rover the best luxury car in the world?
How does Range Rover do it? How come it can build a clean-lined, square-jawed, downright handsome SUV and no-one else can? They all just shove massive grilles on the front as a brand identifier then fail to sort anything out behind that. Only Range Rover manages to combine dignity with subtle road presence and desirability. It’s a clever trick.
And it means people react better to the Range Rover than they do to any other SUV. It’s cut some slack where others aren’t. And this one is given extra clearance because it’s a hybrid. One that actually works. A 31.8kWh battery that can be fast-charged at 50kW and do a claimed 68 miles on a charge. And yes, if you do the maths on that you’ll realise that works out at a little over 2.1miles per kWh, which is hardly efficient.
But it’s not using any fuel, and that’s what people care about these days. The other morning Rowan Horncastle posed something of a cultural dilemma by driving past a Just Stop Oil protest running silently in electric mode. The protesters weren’t sure what to think: applaud the electric or vilify the SUV.
Probably just as well the rear windows are tinted so they didn’t get the full maxi-capitalist view. This one is a long wheelbase, stretched by 200mm. It is palatial in the back, gorgeously clad in Perlino cream leather and all rather too good for the likes of us. My recycling is currently having the most glamorous trip into its afterlife at the tip.
But the plan is to do more with it than hoick garbage around. We want to find out if this is the world’s most luxurious SUV – and given the way the market is going, whether that actually makes it the world’s best luxury car. The BMW i7 and Mercedes S-Class are all very well, but they’re a bit business/executive class. No-one aspires to a saloon any more. They’re for the chauffeur driven. This however, is the luxury car you’re proud to drive yourself.
It's a P440e, featuring a turbocharged straight six with a 140bhp electric motor mounted in the transmission. That’s just enough e-thrust to move a claimed 2660kg of Range Rover about the place, although I already dispute Range Rover’s weight (and e-range) figures. Oddly, it’s not a car you can buy any more as it’s been superseded by the P460e which knocks a couple of tenths of the 0-62 sprint and claims even better CO2 and economy figures. Those are achievable if you’re diligent with the recharging.
And so far, I have been. The first tank lasted well over 500 miles at an average of 51mpg as it only involved a couple of longer journeys that depleted the battery. 210 miles of that was done on electric alone, using 160kWh of electric from my home charger. Which works out at 1.3 miles per kWh, not the 2.1 Range Rover claims… more on that in due course.
But let’s admire the luxury, not worry about the efficiency just yet. This one is finished in Belgravia green with just two main options fitted: The 24-way adjustable, hot n’ cold massage front seats and Executive Class Comfort rear seats (£2100) and the £3700 rear seat entertainment. The former has already won me over, the latter I haven’t had a chance to play with yet. Need someone else to drive.
There’s also a £480 fridge, a £120 three-pin plug socket and three years access to Range Rover’s Secure Tracker Pro system (£340). Autobiography specification throws everything else in for free. And there is a lot of it. But so there should be when Range Rover is asking £140k.
And no, that doesn’t make it too precious to venture off-road. A run across a couple of local by-ways was a lovely way to round off an evening walk and pub visit. Not so much a car as a leather-swathed observation platform. Luxury with a wider scope.