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Long-term review

Range Rover P400e Autobiography - long term review

£137,435 / £144,175 / £1,650pcm
Published: 18 Mar 2024
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SPEC HIGHLIGHTS

  • SPEC

    Range Rover P400e Autobiography

  • ENGINE

    2996cc

  • BHP

    440bhp

  • 0-62

    6s

Farewell, Range Rover: is it one of the most accomplished all-rounders you can buy?

There is nothing else like a Range Rover. That’s what the last nine months have shown me. I drove a Rolls Cullinan recently, but I came away thinking that if they were parked up side by side and I could only take one away to keep and use forever, it would be the one built in Solihull. Then I wondered if you could slot anything else in the Royce’s place that I would choose over the Rangey. I thought long and hard, flicked through back issues of the mag, but couldn’t come up with anything.

And over a wide spread actually. Not just SUVs from Bentley, Porsche, Mercedes et al, but luxury cars as well. I’ve said before that the current BMW i7 is a masterpiece if you’re travelling in the back. But only if you’re travelling in the back. I wouldn’t want to own one.

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It’s about fitness for purpose. The Range Rover understands what it’s for and how to do it better than anything else. You see the same in other classes – the Porsche 911 springs to mind, so too the BMW 3 Series and (until recently) the VW Golf. Cars that deliver on their promises so well and so consistently that there’s no point looking further. 

So here’s my advice. If you want a Range Rover, have one. What’s that? What about all those issues with them being stolen, or uninsurable? Let’s deal with that now. The thefts mainly apply to pre-2018 cars, with keys vulnerable to relay attacks. Land Rover has sorted a software patch, so if you have one, get it to your dealer now. So far of the 12,810 new shape Range Rovers sold in the UK, only 11 have been pinched – 0.08 per cent. They’re immune to relay attacks and more invasive CAN procedures that have had thieves cutting open the bodywork to get to the wiring loom.

The knock-on effect of these thefts (a legacy of the car’s desirability abroad, our vulnerable open ports and parts demand from Russia after Land Rover stopped trading there) is higher insurance. Land Rover is working hard with the ABI (Association of British Insurers) to demonstrate the new car’s security and bring costs down. A lot of it comes down to your postcode. Where I live – a market town in the Home Counties – it would cost me £1,380 a year to insure the diesel Rangey, £1,580 for the hybrid. Move to London and that becomes £6-8,000 for the diesel and it’s very challenging to get quotes on the hybrid. Desirable parts, see.

Hence why Land Rover started its own insurance. Which, because it’s done in partnership with Liverpool Victoria, has initially suffered exactly the same issues – I tried to get a quote and the system said no. Land Rover insists that issue has been surmounted and they were caught out by how quickly the scheme became very popular.

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Anyway, back to the car, because there are some pointers I want to give you. Don’t have the extended wheelbase with the lounge seats unless you’re going to be travelling in the back. it looks more ungainly and I reckon the 200mm stretch introduces a hint of shudder into the chassis. The RR's genius is that it can turn its hand to anything, and you’d probably rather it turned its hand to practicality than chauffeuring. This way you’ll be able to fold the rear seats flat and you’ll remain convinced the front seat is the place to be. You don’t miss what you haven’t got after all.

There’s no other car with a driving environment to match this. It is beautifully minimalist, the view out is lofty, clear and open, the seats are thick, soft and enveloping. Even the screens aren’t frustrating to interact with. There is no better car to do distance in. Period. That’s it. At Christmas I had to go and pick my daughter up from uni, a round trip of nigh-on 600 miles. I genuinely looked forward to the drive for weeks beforehand – obviously I was excited to see her, but equally it was about spending a whole day in the car. Just letting it do what it does so well: relax you and consume distance. The diesel did it on a single tank. It was probably my favourite drive.

Range Rover 400e Autobiography

There were plenty of others. An evening ramble along byways at sunset was a favourite, so too any journey in the long wheelbase with the seats filled, because even if I was missing out, I liked hearing people coo about the massage, the blinds and reclining. A trawl around a mate’s farm was a laugh, even more so than tackling Land Rover’s Eastnor test centre. It did the Alps twice, saw the southern coasts of France, Wales, Devon and more. It carried scooters, uni clobber, chainsaws, a canoe, furniture and bikes got to travel in, on and behind it.

There’s an honesty to the diesel. I quickly got used to its more vocal engine, the extra vibrations. It averaged an actual 32.4mpg over the course of the 3,000 miles I did in it, which worked out at 22.4ppm (pence per mile). I’m convinced diesel still has a place in cars like this, it gives the Rangey a workhorse vibe, but I did prefer the hybrid. Not because it was any cheaper to fuel. Taken singly, neither electric motor nor petrol engine are efficient – I got about 1.3mpkWh (even charging at home that worked out at about 21.9ppm) and 27mpg. Combine them and the trip computer will happy show the mpg figure shooting skywards to 50 or 60mpg, but overall it worked out about 28ppm to run.

I doubt that’s of any interest to most drivers, who’ll merely be happy that they can brag about getting 45-50 miles on electric and charging at home. I did enjoy that, plus the silence and smoothness of the straight six, the slick handovers. Land Rover bangs on about modern luxury and the hybrid delivers it best.

But it also weighs 3,000kg. It does, I stuck it on a weighbridge. I mean, come on Range Rover. This profligacy is getting ridiculous. You need to do better. On the whole you wouldn’t guess it weighs that much. The control weights are gorgeously judged, the rear-steer system sharpens up manoeuvring. Just don’t up the pace. The big fella’s not for turning. Or stopping. In our tests it took 40 metres to halt from 60mph, 110 metres from 100mph. For most saloons and estates those figures are 33 and 95 metres. At the point they stop in an emergency from 60mph the Rangey is still doing 25mph. That’s a lot of energy and momentum.

Range Rover 400e Autobiography

But you forgive the Rangey because it’s a handsome beast. There’s an elegance and sophistication to the reductive lines that nothing else achieves. ‘It can’t be that hard’ you want to say to Rolls and Bentley, but clearly it is. This is the only genuinely attractive full size SUV. Don’t have it in white (I felt a bit of a fool in the D350) but no need to steer clear of a light interior – it sets off the ambience a treat.

And for what it is, I don’t think it’s expensive. As I’ve already said, the Range Rover holds its head high in far more exalted company. This one might be £122k, but it’s a special car. As a rule I don’t like SUVs, but I adored this. It’s also the most reliable Land Rover product I’ve ever run. Which isn’t saying much admittedly, but after 20,000 miles all l’ve had is a loose door handle cover, and the hybrid needed its 12v system rebooting so it would remember to start in electric mode.

It's a big bear hug of a car, a warm embrace on a filthy night, a sophisticated companion for the urban trawl, an inspiration off-road. It is the car that can do it all, and do it with panache. I’ve always said an RS6 or a VW van would be the first thing into my dream three car garage. Now I’m not so sure. It’s the Range Rover. It’s peerless. Accept no substitute.

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