New car review

Range Rover plug-in hybrid test drive

Land Rover has followed the lead of Porsche and Bentley by fitting its flagship Range Rover with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain – PHEV for short

The image of a Range Rover may conjure up thoughts of opulent interiors, intimidating looks and go-anywhere ability. But under the skin, the engine choices have remained stubbornly powerful, polluting and thirsty. Until now?

Now Land Rover has introduced the Range Rover plug-in hybrid, which gives city dwellers an alternative to plain old internal combustion. It combines a four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor and battery, capable of travelling up to 31 miles on battery power alone – perfect for commuting or cross-city jaunts.

This engine is priced near the top of the existing model line-up – dearer than both V6 and V8 diesels plus the V6 petrol, but not as expensive as the fire-breathing V8 petrol models. It can count the new Bentley Bentayga hybrid and Porsche Cayenne hybrid as rivals.

What’s new about the Range Rover plug-in hybrid?

The biggest change for this model is the powertrain – but more on that later. For 2018, every Range Rover model receives some extra glitz and bling, along a with a few worthwhile upgrades.

There’s a new grille inspired by the smaller Range Rover Velar, the tailpipes have been integrated into the rear bumper and there are new lights front and rear.

Inside, nearly every button on the centre console has gone, replaced instead by a dual-touchscreen setup. Where buttons remain, they’re seamlessly integrated into one another, and light-up too.

Thicker windows and noise-cancelling tech aim to make the car even quieter than before, and there are new seats, too.

How does it look?

The Range Rover is massive, intimidating and unmistakable, and 2018’s changes only serve to build on this. The Velar-inspired grille and new headlamps walk a fine line between glitzy and vulgar (you’ll have to decide which), and a wide array of colours and trims mean you can style it to suit either the country club or the nightclub.

Only some subtle badging marks this out as a hybrid, with the electric charging port concealed neatly behind the Land Rover badge in the front grille.

What’s the spec like?

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The PHEV powertrain is available across all Range Rover trim levels and even base models are seriously luxurious vehicles.

Entry-level Vogue models, which start at £86,965 on-road, get a full Windsor leather interior, triple-zone climate control, a fixed panoramic glass roof, 20-inch alloy wheels, and matrix LED headlights to name but a few choice items.

Step up to £93,465 Vogue SE and the wheels grow to 21 inches, the excellent Terrain Response system comes as standard and the stereo becomes an excellent Meridian system.

Top-spec Autobiography includes executive rear seating, walnut veneer, 24-way electric seats with heating and cooling and a suede headliner for £105,865.

It’s rather easy to increase these prices with a few items from the options list on any of the models, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are still disappointing omissions. That’s our only major gripe, though.

Continued on next page: Interior, drive experience and our verdict

Tom Wiltshire
Tom Wiltshire
Articles by Tom Wiltshire are provided for The Car Expert by PA Media (formerly the Press Association). They include test drives of the latest new cars and features on various aspects of automotive life.

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