From £104,0259
Full-fat Range Rover becomes available with plug-in hybrid powertrain, but does it impact the flagship?

This is the lighter version of Ranger Rover's full-fat new flagship. Named the Range Rover P510e (from £126,455) it gets a near-identical set up to the standard RR, but with a plug-in (PHEV) drivetrain.

At the same time as trying the new Range Rover Sport we've had a chance to drive its hybrid sibling. I wasn’t able to back-to-back test it alongside with a regular combusted Range Rover but, as with the Sport, you wouldn’t instinctively know there was a difference in any isolation or comfort.

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In fact, trying it alongside a Sport instead was a valuable exercise in seeing how differentiated the two models are. And the answer is: honestly, not light years. Then, is a BMW X7 so different to an X5, or an Audi Q7 to a Q8?

The Range Rover has a terrific ride quality and very low cabin noise, with a mix of materials that it can get away with towards the lower end of its pricing (the P510e is from £126,455, the lesser-powered P440e from £103,485) but at the top end – a £149,400 SV – would feel harder going.

It’s smooth and responsive and when the 3.0 engine is zinging along, it’s doing it very quietly in the background, with just a little sporting edge to it. Things are more responsive if you pull the gearlever into ‘S’ rather than ‘D’ but the electric motor is there to assist anyway – you can just use throttle rather than have to pull gears to make progress. This is a rapid car regardless.

But – and this goes for the Sport drive alongside too – it’s in the energy management where the cleverness lies. Plumb in a destination into the navigation and the car ought to know whether there’s a clean air zone on the way that’ll need electric-only motion, and save some battery for you.

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Or you can choose to drive on electric power for as long as possible – the official range is pushing 70 miles – opt to hold some charge for later, or run around in hybrid mode, which eeks out the mains-assisted driving for as long as the battery and fuel play together, which ought to be the other side of 150 miles. (I didn’t have a chance to test that for certain but in an earlier test of a Defender P400e, which has a smaller battery and an all-electric range of only 27 miles, it would do over 75 in hybrid mode before the battery depleted).

Anyway it’s a heavier solution than pure internal combustion, which will limit its off-road capabilities, but if your use case is right, this could be the answer. For SUVs which actually tow things and are sometimes expected to run big distances in remote locations, PHEVs are a sound technology. And well-executed here.

Range rover 2022 003 cornering rear


Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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Deputy 11 September 2022

And yet the Suzuki Jimny was banned from sale but it's OK to have a 3 tonne offroader as long as it has an uncharged and unused battery in it!

HughB 10 September 2022

Although there's grumbling in the comments, a range of 70 miles is pretty decent - and it means those school runs and trips to the shops can be done in clean air. 

Yes, it's heavy, but there's a market for these vehicles and the PHEV is a good option.

The Apprentice 7 September 2022
I suppose they should get some credit for putting a bigger battery in so it gets a reasonable EV range of 70 miles. Although its hardly efficient, will only have about 28kwh usable or less so about 2 to 2.5 miles per kwh.

When you have the 'luxury' of throwing weight and cost limitations out the window (as they were already thrown out) you can make a PHEV tax dodger version with as big an engine and battery as you like.

Overdrive 8 September 2022
It's huge weight, getting on for best part of, three tonnes, hurts efficiency. It's unlikely you'd get better than 2 m/kwh in real life driving conditions for anything that weighs this much.