Range Rover Sport PHEV SUV
“The Range Rover Sport PHEV is a desirable luxury SUV with low emissions. It’s not perfect, but should dramatically cut costs for some drivers”
- 31-mile electric range
- Low CO2 emissions
- Good to drive
- Reduced practicality
- Thirsty once batteries run out
- Less suited to high-mileage drivers
Along with a facelifted Range Rover Sport in early 2018 came this P400e PHEV plug-in hybrid version, boasting a battery pack large enough to propel it for 31 miles without using any petrol. This increases its fuel-economy figure into triple digits and reduces emissions, making it an appealing option for company-car drivers.
Going head-to-head with models like the Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine, Audi Q7 e-tron, BMW X5 xDrive40e and Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, the P400e is fast as well as frugal. Thanks to its 297bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and 114bhp electric motor, it can accelerate from 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds. Being a Range Rover, it can cut it off-road, too, even using the instant torque of its electric motor to negotiate tricky obstacles at low speeds.
The interior is just as plush as before, while technology has been given a big boost for 2018. There’s now a dual-screen layout for the centre console, separating media and navigation from vehicle settings, while the blind for the panoramic sunroof can even be opened and closed with a wave of your hand. There’s room for five in luxurious comfort, but the P400e does take a hit where practicality is concerned – the boot’s smaller than the regular Range Rover Sport's, there’s no seven-seat option and it can’t tow quite as much either.
The exterior has had a mild refresh, too, most easily spotted by new Matrix Pixel LED headlights and a redesigned grille. The former are made up of hundreds of individual LEDs, which iluminate and turn off to adjust to the road conditions and avoid dazzling other drivers.
If you often drive short distances, the PHEV makes a lot of of sense, and near-silent running at low speeds gives the Range Rover Sport P400e an even more luxurious feel than other versions. But if you regularly drive further between battery top ups, fuel economy drops away, making the diesel a better bet.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The Range Rover Sport P400e might have a relatively thirsty 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, but combining it with an electric motor and battery pack means running costs can be significantly reduced. Like all plug-in hybrids, this benefit diminishes the further you drive – and if you don’t have access to a charging point – so the P400e is best suited to drivers with a fairly short commute who can top up the batteries frequently.
Thanks to the 13.1kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the Range Rover Sport can travel for up to 31 miles on electricity alone, boosting its official fuel-economy figure to 88mpg – a huge improvement over the 29.4mpg of the equivalent petrol-only model. While this figure will obviously depend on how you drive the P400e, its 73g/km CO2 emissions figure is fixed, and means it’s by far the cheapest Range Rover Sport for company-car drivers. Its 16% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band compares with 37% for the standard Si4 petrol.
Compared with its closest rivals, the P400e betters the 25-mile range and 75g/km CO2 emissions of the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, while the Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine manages just 59g/km of CO2 and 134.5mpg, but has a slightly lower 25-mile range on battery power.
Road tax costs £130 a year, however there’s also a £310 surcharge in years two to six owing to the fact the P400e costs more than £40,000, bringing the total to £440 during this period.
Charging the P400e at home takes around 7.5 hours using the standard 10-amp cable, but this can be sped up to under three hours using rapid charging with a dedicated wall box and 32-amp cable. The charging port is located in the front grille, making it easier to park facing public charging posts.
Engines, drive & performance
The Range Rover Sport’s P400e badge signifies its power level, because its turbocharged 297bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor combined produce up to 399bhp. This PHEV certainly isn’t short of power, then, sprinting from 0-62mph in just 6.7 seconds, before hitting a maximum speed of 137mph. This is only seven tenths faster than the petrol model, but the P400e feels very different to drive, especially in town. Here, electric power allows the Sport to accelerate briskly from a standstill with little fuss or noise – attributes that suit its character. It's just a shame the P400e can hesitate when asked to accelerate from a rolling start at a junction or roundabout - a frustrating sensation.
Using 'Save' mode allows you to keep the battery charge for use later, even if you fancy some silent and green off-roading. Here, the P400e still has to fulfil its Range Rover brief, and the Terrain Response 2 off-roading ‘brain’ has been calibrated to make use of the instant torque of the electric motor to improve control when negotiating low-speed obstacles.
Back on the road, it’s when the battery pack is depleted that the Sport P400e makes least sense. With a small engine and more weight to lug around, it needs working fairly hard and emits a vocal whine that’s at odds with the Range Rover’s luxurious character.
Tackle a winding road and the P400e does a better job of disguising its weight, serving up impressive agility and grip for a big SUV. It’s sharper than the XC90 that majors on comfort, while being slightly less driver-focussed than the Cayenne.
Interior & comfort
Inside, the Range Rover Sport is just as luxurious as ever, with swathes of leather covering every surface and metal trim that’s cool to the touch. There were big changes for the 2018 facelift, though, including the introduction of the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, with two 10-inch displays stacked on top of each other. These are crystal-clear and look great, with the top display taking care of sat nav and media, while the bottom screen is used for vehicle settings. It largely works well, but smartphone integration still lags behind rivals like the Audi Q7 and it's a bit of a fingerprint magnet.
There are plenty of places to charge your smart devices, with up to 12 power points dotted around the interior, as well as two traditional power sockets to charge laptops and other devices that need more juice than a USB port can provide. You can essentially turn the Sport into an office away from home – or family entertainment centre – at the drop of a hat. The introduction of the Activity Key from the Jaguar F-Pace means you can also take a waterproof wristband on your outdoor adventures instead of the key and use it to unlock the car when you get back.
Practicality & boot space
It has a lower roofline and sleeker shape than the standard Range Rover, or a Volvo XC90 for that matter, but the Range Rover Sport is still a large SUV. It can carry five adults in comfort, with well shaped leather seats providing plenty of support.
However, there have been some compromises in practicality in order to fit the battery pack and electric motor. In the standard Sport, there’s up to 780 litre of luggage space, but this is reduced by up to 79 litres in the P400e, while the boot floor is also raised up by 46mm.Perhaps more significantly for families, there’s also no longer the option of the 5+2 seating layout that makes the Sport an occasional seven-seater, because there’s no room to stow the third row in the boot.
Towing has been made simpler, thanks to Advanced Tow Assist, a driving aid that allows you to guide a trailer into place using the reversing camera and turning the rotary controller to steer its path. The on-board computer then works out the correct steering inputs required automatically. It’s worth noting the P400e can tow between 500-1,000kg less than other Sports, but its maximum trailer weight of 2,500kg is still more than enough to pull a large caravan.
Reliability & safety
Land Rover doesn’t have the best reputation for reliability, but shot up the rankings to come seventh in our 2018 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey – a huge improvement on 24th place in 2017.
While the Range Rover Sport hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, safety should be less of a worry. Both the fully fledged Range Rover and the Range Rover Velar managed a five-star result, so there’s little reason to think the Sport would do worse. It shares most of their safety kit after all, including features like autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and electronics designed to help prevent rollover accidents.
Price, value for money & options
Depending on its specification, the plug-in hybrid P400e costs around £4,500 more than a Range Rover Sport fitted with a V6 diesel engine. Some will consider this a bargain, especially company-car drivers considering the potential tax savings, or London-dwellers who regularly drive into the Congestion Charge zone.
However, the savings only really make sense if you plan on driving on electric power a large proportion of the time. If you often drive more than 30 miles a day, or on long trips, a diesel will probably make more sense.