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Range Rover P400e LWB Autobiography (2019) review

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The Range Rover can now be had with a stretched body and plug-in hybrid. Can it truly be a half-priced Bentayga?

What’s new?

For the first time, Land Rover has given the Range Rover a plug-in hybrid option for buyers to choose from.

Called P400e, the semi-electric Range Rover features a 2.0-litre petrol-turbo engine hooked up to an electric motor producing a combined 404hp of power.

The all-electric driving range is claimed at 51km and Land Rover says the battery can be charged via a home socket in 7.5hr.

Apart from this new powertrain, the interior fascia sees two touchscreens accommodating the digital instrument panel. These latest features first appeared in the smaller Velar.

Rounding off this update is a long wheelbase body with Autobiography specification bringing the total retail price to 9.999 million baht.

Thai punters can still opt for the short wheelbase model and the choice of either V8 petrol or V6 diesel. 

But the P400e LWB Autobiography sounds quite nice in this part of the world where many well-heeled urbanites like to be chauffeur-driven.

All of a sudden, this particular Range Rover sounds good value at 10 million baht, which is half of what the Bentley Bentayga asks for. Is it a genuine cut-price alternative?

What’s cool?

A four-cylinder petrol engine forming as the main bit of propulsion in an SUV weighing over 2.5 tonnes may sound inadequate. But in reality, it isn’t.

The combustion motor itself already produces 300hp. And combine that with electric power, there’s really no shortage of power in either city or highway driving.

With the temporary ability to drive around silently with no tailpipe emissions, the P400e perfectly fits the urban bill.

Putting more electronic functions into the Range Rover’s cabin not only lifts the luxury appeal but also user-friendliness.

And because we’re talking about a stretched wheelbase, the rear quarters is easily a more cajoling place to be in than the Bentayga. Oh, and those doorsteps that automatically pop out upon entry is such a cool feature.

What’s not?

Although the Range Rover is trimmed and kitted how a luxurious SUV should be, it somehow lacks the exquisite feel of the Bentayga’s. As well, the sound of a four-cylinder engine doesn’t really do justice for a brand of this stature.

But the bigger letdown in this Range Rover is the ride. Due to its excessive mass, there’s simply too much body movement even when driving over the slightest of bumps around town.

You can make the ride flatter by switching the drive mode into Dynamic, but that also makes the steering heavier. 

It would have been great if the air suspension could be adjusted independently from the other driving parameters. The Bentayga has already gone a step ahead with this and an electronic anti-roll system, as well.

Buy or bye?

OK, it may sound ironic for such a capable SUV to be used mainly as city transport. But if Range Rover customers really do use it like that, then the P400e in stretched form seems quite a nice combination.

There’s enough cabin comfort and space for S-Class owners to upgrade. And the availability of all-electric driving makes the cause of this particular Range Rover even better.

But if you also want a good driving experience, then the Range Rover is slightly off the mark with its overly boat-like ride. Dynamically speaking, the Bentayga is considerably more accomplished to drive.

Even so, it’s quite hard to ignore the fact that the Bentayga costs twice as much. Inferior it may be in some areas, the Range Rover is a decent cut-price alternative.

THE SPORTIER OPTION

The Range Rover Sport, the more driver-focused derivative of the regular model, is also available with the new plug-in hybrid drivetrain and updated interior.

It’s also called P400e because it has the same technical credentials of the gargantuan sibling, as tested in the main story.

But as the Sport P400e is smaller in size and lighter win, it’s safe to assume that it drives around with more agility, feels more accelerative and takes less fuel. In fact, the Sport P400e should be just as home in the concrete jungle.

Asking for 6.3 and 7.399 million baht in HSE and HSE Dynamic trim respectively, the Sport P400e has the same starting price as the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid 

Just don’t try making any comparisons with other electrified SUVs in the Thai market. The Sport P400e is way dearer than the similarly powered Volvo XC90 T8.

As well, the forthcoming replacements for the semi-electric BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE highlight six-pot petrol engines. Both should be priced within five million baht.

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