New Range Rover P400 Vogue 2020 review
The Range Rover P400 comes with a mild-hybrid, turbocharged and supercharged straight-six - we find out if it's the sweet spot of the range
Despite a growing band of talented luxury SUV rivals, the Range Rover still feels a class apart and the new P400 mild-hybrid petrol engine is another useful mid-range option. With its mix of effortless performance and almost diesel-equalling efficiency, the new 3.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged unit gels very well with the Range Rover’s relentlessly cosseting character. Even 395bhp can’t turn Land Rover’s flagship into a sporty drive but, as fans of this elegant SUV will tell you, that’s not the point.
The Range Rover’s position as the luxury SUV of choice, whether you’re double parking outside a Belgravia restaurant or cresting sand dunes in the Omani desert, has been coming under growing threat in recent years. Not only has the sheer number of options facing buyers of big, posh 4x4s expanded dramatically, but there are also increasingly pertinent questions around the environmental impact of using such large and salubrious vehicles when something smaller and greener might suffice.
Range Rover’s answer to the dual challenges faced in the market and the court of public opinion has been to boost its flagship SUV’s efficiency, while expanding its range. The P400e plug-in hybrid has joined the line-up and so has the P400 we’re looking at here, a mild-hybrid version using a new turbocharged and supercharged straight-six Ingenium petrol engine.
Priced from around £90,000, the P400 can’t match the 75mpg-plus fuel economy that the plug-in model returns on the WLTP combined cycle, but its 25mpg is almost identical to the figure claimed for the Range Rover’s SDV8 diesel variant. That’s despite this new 3.0-litre unit, with built-in 48-volt mild-hybrid technology, kicking out 395bhp and spiriting the SUV to 60mph in 5.9s. That performance is 0.9sec faster than the 334bhp V8 diesel and only 0.8sec down on the range-topping petrol V8 models, which cost £3,000 more, model for model.
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The Range Rover P400 stacks up very nicely on paper, looking like an attractive alternative to both the SDV8 and the P400e plug-in hybrid, which are all priced at broadly equivalent levels in the middle of the Range Rover range.
On the road, the new engine is no less impressive. It uses an electric supercharger to boost its power output and response at low engine speeds, all but eliminating any lag before the twin-scroll turbocharger gets into its stride. The 48v mild-hybrid system stores power reclaimed under braking to charge a battery that then allows the electric motor to give a handy torque boost to assist the engine when required.
The 550Nm maximum torque output is well down on the 740Nm you get in the brawny SDV8 diesel but the P400 makes it all available all the way from 2,000 to 5,000rpm, whereas the diesel only gives its best between 1,750 and 2,250rpm. The petrol engine feels strong through the gears as a result, and when you ask it for a burst of acceleration it’s usually eager to deliver. Refinement is also strong, with little noise coming from the engine at cruising speeds; it’s mainly wind noise making its way into the cabin and a hushed, if somewhat tuneless, roar when you put your foot down.
The engine’s inherent smoothness and flexibility suits the Range Rover’s distinctive character. It’s not an SUV that tries to be sporty in any serious way and is instead focused on delivering the cushy ride and sky-high comfort levels that have always been the cornerstone of its success.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox is often slow to get its act together in automatic mode, and selecting the Sport setting does little to address this. You can hurry things along by using the wheel-mounted paddle-shifters but these feel plasticky to the touch and work with an unsatisfactory click, which is quite incongruous in the otherwise beautifully judged cabin.
It’s far better to enjoy this leather-lined haven with its commanding view of the road and float the Range Rover from point to point in a more relaxed fashion. The latest models get Android Auto and Apple Carplay as standard, together with an impressive Meridian stereo system and the usual arsenal of off-road driver aids. There are few better environments at any price for four people to sit out a long journey.