Plug-in hybrids are no longer subsidized by the state – no wonder, since they usually don’t keep their consumption promises. However, the powerful petrol hybrid in the new Range Rover has a decisive advantage over other models.
Many car experts and eco-associations agree on one point: plug-in hybrid cars are not exactly the last word. The real consumption of the cars deviates too far from the promises of the manufacturers. In this respect, the decision of the federal government to stop the state purchase premiums for these cars is late but logical. Sales of part-time electricians are therefore likely to decline, either in favor of normal petrol and diesel cars or in favor of fully electric vehicles.
Of course, the manufacturers have no choice: the EU’s strictest consumption specifications worldwide, which are expressly aimed at pushing the combustion engine to the sidelines and only allowing e-mobiles, have forced the switch to hybrids in recent years. There was no alternative, especially for large and heavy SUVs. Because only with batteries on board can cars achieve ranges that would hardly be accepted by customers.
So Land Rover no longer only builds on diesel, but also on the electric-petrol double boom with hybrid drive. There are two to choose from: the P440e AWD with 324 kW / 440 hp and the P510e AWD with 375 kW / 510 hp.
A turbocharged three-liter six-cylinder petrol engine helps both variants along, supported by a powerful electronic module. At 38 kilowatt hours, the hybrid battery of the three-tonne British car is so large that it would even be enough for a small electric car.
Of course, this quickly raises the question of why it makes sense, and this also applies to the top model P510e we tested: Isn’t a powerful diesel engine still the more sensible option in this vehicle class? With many plug-in hybrids, you have to answer this question with yes, at least on long journeys; for the Range Rover, the answer is somewhat more differentiated.
One has to anticipate that the official standard consumption, measured with a fully charged battery and with an electric range of over 100 kilometers according to the factory specification, of 0.9 liters remains a fantasy value as soon as the battery is discharged and pure electricity is no longer possible. Especially since the petrol engine regularly started up even with a full battery during our test drives in mild winter temperatures.
In practice, the 113 promised electric kilometers were not quite achievable. After all: around 90 km are in it with a full battery, which makes the Range Rover one of the plug-in hybrids with the greatest electric range. The driving mode switch can be used to switch between pure EV mode, hybrid and “charge” mode (then the battery is charged via the motor as a generator). Of course, the Brit is not thrifty in E mode either. The official figure already mentions 29.9 kWh per 100 km as consumption, in practice it is quickly over 30. That is about twice what an economical electric car consumes per 100 km.
But if you can spend 224,582 euros for an SUV (our test car with all the extras actually cost that much), for fuel prices are just funny numbers on boards at a gas station. More important is the power that the car delivers. And you won’t be disappointed.
The dual thump of an electric motor and a petrol engine not only propels the three-tonne vehicle from a standstill to 100 km/h in six seconds, but also ensures confident progress from any low speed on the motorway. Thanks to all-wheel drive, the Range claws its way onto the track with various high-tech programs on slippery and snowy roads, although of course you should never underestimate the lush weight of the car.
The petrol tank of the hybrid range holds 71 litres, slightly less than the diesel (80 litres) and significantly less than the petrol (90 litres). And how much gasoline flows through the lines? In our test, it was between three and four liters in hybrid mode with the remaining battery reserves.
When the battery is exhausted, there are around 8.4 liters in it when driving comfortably on the motorway (maximum 120 km/h), at a slightly faster speed (140 to 170 km/h) it is between 10 and 11 liters. After all: With the current diesel prices, you can’t be more economical with a diesel range, because in practice it can easily consume 8 to 10 liters.
But nobody buys a Range Rover to save. The high electric range is due on the one hand to the new EU emissions regulations, which can – still – be achieved with a hybrid drive, and on the other hand to the fact that inner-city driving bans for non-electric cars are absolutely possible in many cities around the world in the future. Great Britain’s metropolis London is the best example of this with its ever stricter environmental zones. If the lord still wants to drive his Range Rover through the city in 10 or 20 years, he will probably only be able to do that if it drives locally emission-free, at least in the “green” zones.
And so we come to the decisive advantage that the Range Rover has over most other plug-in hybrids: it can not only be powered with alternating current and a few miserable kilowatts, but also with direct current up to 50 Kilowatt can be charged (in the test it was mostly 43 kW). This is not fast charging in the true sense of the word, but: Even on long journeys, for example during a meal break or when the family is stretching their legs, you can hang the fat Briton on the line and still have the battery after around half an hour more than half filled.
Apart from the technology that is slumbering under the hood, the Range Rover is of course one thing above all: a moving fortress, a very pleasant touring car. Once you’ve hoisted yourself onto the driver’s seat – the handle on the headlining helps – you only look at the rest of the traffic from above like a royal. And when the heavy door slams shut (with electric assistance if required), everything in the world stays outside in front of the double-glazed windows.
In the city, of course, you have to deal with the lush dimensions of the car. Narrow streets bring beads of sweat to your forehead in the first few days. And certainly not every parking space and every (older) parking garage is suitable for the Range Rover. But still: The rear-wheel steering of the car makes the British trumpet surprisingly agile when it comes to manoeuvring.
But as comfortable as you can stretch out on the leather seats, of course with a massage function, and enjoy the operatic sound from various speakers: the Range Rover is not a miracle of transport, despite up to 2728 liters of luggage space. Because if you fold down the lavishly padded rear seats, there is an enormous step in the luggage compartment. You can balance long and bulky objects through the two-part tailgate well into the car, but then you might fail further back due to the lack of space to the roof.
The Range Rover remains the pinnacle of SUV creation, in both a good and bad sense: both the advantages (exuberant luxury, extreme sense of security, sovereign power) and the disadvantages (city-unfriendly dimensions, high price, comparatively high energy consumption) come at a price in this British cruiser. For prices from 154,000 euros for the top hybrid – with a lot of equipment the 200,000 euro mark is quickly cracked – one can of course also expect something.
The Range Rover’s hybrid drive is doing pretty well. The word “efficient” doesn’t roll off your lips; the car simply needs too much of everything for that, be it electricity or fuel. However, thanks to the high charging capacity, the Range Rover P510e can actually be quickly charged with a new electric range on the go. It’s hard to imagine that one day this car will only be fully electric. But for the first time in such a large SUV, the hybrid option appears as a real alternative to the good old diesel drive.