Range Rover, the epitome of a luxury SUV and it's legacy echoes this as for years British manufacturer Land Rover kept this sub brand of theirs delivering only the best to its customers. In recent times, not much has changed and the line-up has increased with the addition of the Evoque and Velar which fell under this sub brand, it also gave birth to the Range Rover Sport which as it's name suggests, a sportier version of the Range Rover. The Coupe like SUV had more agile look, offered a different driving style and became quite popular world over. Locally, it even is a status symbol for the rich and powerful but deep down inside, it still has that heart for the off road. Hence when Land Rover decided to launch Plug-In Hybrid variants of these cars, many would wonder how they would fair. A month ago I had the change to drive one for about a week and to was an eye opener for me.
There is no noticeable design differences between a standard Range Rover Sport and this one, apart from the charging port in the front grille. The PHEV models come in under the face-lift range of the the Range Rover line-up which see's modular LED daytime running lights fall away with a solid outline line. There are other subtle changes to the car and cabin in the face lift but I'll dive into that a bit later. While the Sport model is more sportier, the presence still remains as it is much larger than other SUV's on the market. It was the first model in the new design language from Land Rover and it still looks the part today. Apart from being a very attractive looking car, it is rather practical too which is why it is so popular with many. The interior cabin design is clean, elegant and luxurious. The center control panels feature two large touch screen displays which control the various functions of the car. There is added brushed aluminium to the front and back of the car to enhance its off-road ability.
A plug-in hybrid SUV, yes, not uncommon but not something you would consider in a hurry. Why? SUV's are big, heavy and would need more energy to pull a round so by slapping in an electric motor with batteries, how much would you actually gain by it? Also, when hybrid cars first came out, they didn't require a plug-in charging system, the recharge was done via kinetic energy from breaking so why the change? Well there's a whole lot of technical jargon we can delve into but it would be too long for this blog post, essentially manufacturers are installing bigger batteries which yield longer range and higher speeds that normal kinetic charging just cannot sustain, hence the need to charge from another source of power. The battery of the P400e is 13kWh which when fully charged can give you a range of 48km at non excessive speeds or acceleration.
With the Range Rover P400e PHEV, it combined both combustion engine power with electric engine power giving you an output which has a great performance than a V6 engine with deliver. The lightweight 2.0L si4 Ingenium petrol engine and the 105kW electric motor, produce a combined engine output of 297kW. The 0-100km/h time of just 6.7 seconds. The car delivers instant torque which makes it an ultra responsive engine. It has a top speed of 220km/h and a claimed efficiency of just 2.8L/100km. While on test I managed to see the true potential of this marriage, as Range Rover points out that the car can do up to 48km/h and running on pure electric power but that is not all it does, while the petrol engine is running at higher speeds, the electric motor assists when a coasting speed is reached, thus taking less effort from the combustion engine and saving you fuel while doing so. I noticed this while making the long trek from Johannesburg to Sun City, while I didn't get close enough to the claimed fuel consumption, I did manage to get as low as 6.2L/100km which for a big car like this is generally unheard off.
As mentioned before the car can charge while you in motion but the energy build up via breaking isn't sufficient to charge the entire battery, hence the over night charge is required. On the first night, having it parked in the garage, I made use of the plug point to service the cars electricity needs. It takes roughly 7 hours to charge the battery fully while in Sun City, I asked the resort if there were parking bays with plug points available, thankfully they did have at the undercover parking of the Lost City and thanks to them they were more than happy to charge it for me during my stay. The car comes with two sets of plugs, one which fits into a normal three-pin wall socket and the other for three-phase fast charging units which can be found at selected Jaguar/ Land Rover dealerships as well charging stations which are being rolled out by Jaguar around the country at major shopping malls and filling stations.
There's not much to add when it comes to the comfort of the Range Rover Sport, you getting a cabin filled with high quality materials and finishes along with the best technology offered at the moment and there really isn't any other place you want to be after sitting in it. The guys saw to everything when it came to designing this interior, from adjustable arm rests for the driver and front passenger, to touch screen climate control for the cabin. There really isn't anything I can fault. Being from the Land Rover family, the car is all-wheel drive and features air suspension, which automatically adjusts to the terrain its on, so while in the North West, with the Pilanesburg National Park right next to us, it only made sense to do a self game drive with the Range. While certain parts of the park were tarred, most of it was gravel and not in the greatest condition, so here the P400e showed it's versatility as an off-roading vehicle plus with the game park having strict speed limits, most of the drive was powered by the electric motor! This proved to be a great way to see the game close up as the car virtually snuck up to each animal we encountered because the electric motor is so silent as well as emitting zero emissions in the process.
Electric cars are the future of motoring, with tougher sanctions being placed on motor manufacturers to reduce their emissions on their cars, this is part of the stepping stone to a greener alternative. While many won't see the realise the true value of these cars first hand, they serve as milestones in the pursuit of this. Just from my experience, seeing what this vehicle can achieve is remarkable and if that wasn't enough, watch the Dragon challenge on YouTube where the Range Rover 400e PHEV took on the Heavens Gate on Tianmen Mountain in China. With the strides manufacturers are making in the advancements of this technology, a world with emission free cars isn't too far off in the distance.
2.0L Ingenium Engine with 105kW Electric Motor
EV Charging Time