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Long-term review

Range Rover P400e Autobiography - long term review

£137,435 / £144,175 / £1,650pcm
Published: 21 Feb 2024
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SPEC HIGHLIGHTS

  • SPEC

    Range Rover P400e Autobiography

  • ENGINE

    2996cc

  • BHP

    440bhp

  • 0-62

    6s

How does the cheaper, SWB diesel Range Rover compare to the LWB Hybrid?

“That’s a bit… bridal,” says my mate Tony. “Exactly, that’s why I’ve come here,” I reply. Tony lives on a farm. He would say more, but he’s currently doubled up laughing. The replacement Range Rover – a short wheelbase diesel, in place of the suddenly much-missed LWB hybrid – arrived recently. It’s white. Proper fresh-blanket-of-snow, first-snowdrop-of-spring, white-enough-to-make-a-polar-bear jealous. White.

It’s not staying that way. This isn’t Miami or the Middle East. A white Range Rover looks ridiculous in the mucky shires of middle England. Tony’s not the only one pointing and laughing. But he has a farm. It’s time to romp through the pig woods, yomp through the bogs, plough the fields and scatter the undergrowth. I want to get down and dirty.

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An hour later we’re in a village café with coffee and buns. Outside the Rangey’s Fuji white paintwork is still dazzling like a Californian smile. Hecking frost. All we managed to do is break the ice on a few puddles. It would have got grimier on a gritted motorway. But we are shaking our heads at the imperiousness of its ability. In the last update, the hybrid conquered Eastnor, Land Rover’s home turf test facility. But here, with no guides or instructors to tell me what not to do, I could really cut loose. Traction off, side-slipping across slopes, lolloping in the rutted trenches of tractors, wheelspinning on frozen grass and generally mucking about.

It was deeply impressive. It never got stuck, only once nearly beached itself and only a frozen 45 degree slope defeated its all-season tyres. Plus there’s a sense that no matter how much of a hooligan you’re being, the Range Rover manages to coat your behaviour in a veneer of civility. It always looks like it’s behaving with dignity. There’s something in the way it moves.

But this one isn’t as dignified as the last. It’s not just the colour, but the engine. After the combo of smooth straight six petrol and electric silence, diesel provides a rude awakening. Too much churn, clatter and commotion. In 2024 this 3.0-litre twin turbo diesel doesn’t feel like an engine suited to luxury duties. Even when warm it takes a good moment to respond, kick down and surge forth. It’s not slow, but I don’t like prodding it, it doesn’t seem right.

But then I needed to tow some stuff and – alleluia – this one has the towbar that the LWB hybrid can’t be fitted with. Put a twin axle trailer full of logs on the back and it barely registers. So. Much. Torque. 515lb ft at just 1,500rpm. Tickover basically. And now the deep rumbling noise suits it. It’s a working machine, just dressed differently.

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And it’s called a Range Rover, right? A daughter at university 285 miles from home needs collecting. This did it on a single tankful. At 33.5mpg. On the same trip the hybrid had failed to crack 30mpg, despite an overnight fill of electricity. One more thing about the hybrid. A couple of months back I reported it was refusing to start in electric mode – when it went back they unearthed the reason: the car was protecting the 12v system. All it needed was a quick ECU flash. It’s a niggle, but no more than that – the hybrid Range Rover was the most reliable, glitch-free JLR product I’ve ever run. An oxymoron to rival ‘lairiest accountant’.

So this is here for a couple of months to round off our Range Rover experience. It’s a cheaper version, not just missing the lengthened chassis, but in the drop from Autobiography to Vogue SE, a good chunk of kit. No front fridge any more, no rear screens or… well I haven’t noticed much else. The only thing I’ve actually missed is the massage seats. It’s a long way from cheap, specced to over £120k, but I recently drove an Audi Q8 e-tron specced to £100k that felt no more special or interesting than a £40k Q3.

The Range Rover can hold its head high in far more exalted company, it makes travelling an experience. Nothing else does the job with the same effortless panache. Even when it’s powered by diesel.

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