Range Rover Sport PHEV review
It’s very easy to see how Land Rover created the plug-in hybrid version of the Range Rover Sport. The company simply took the 'P400e' PHEV drivetrain from the Range Rover and dropped it into its smaller brother.
The result is this version, which rivals other premium hybrid SUVs like the Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine and Audi Q7 e-tron. At its heart is a battery pack large enough to give a range of 31 miles on electric power alone. At the same time, this increases potential fuel economy to the best part of over 88mpg and reduces CO2 emissions to less than 75g/km. That makes the PHEV by far the most attractive model in the Sport range for company-car drivers, as well as ensuring it’s exempt from the London Congestion Charge.
You can charge the car completely in seven and a half hours from a standard domestic socket using the cable supplied. However, if you buy a domestic wallbox or use a public fast charger, you can cut charge time down to just under three hours – as long as you buy the appropriate, but optional, Type 2 charging cable.
If you often drive short distances, especially around town, and can keep the batteries topped up, the PHEV makes a lot of financial sense. It also feels even more luxurious than other versions of the car, because of the almost complete lack of noise when you’re running on electric power alone.
However, if you regularly drive longer distances, fuel economy drops away significantly. According to Range Rover, the PHEV will return less than 30mpg when running on petrol power alone. So the diesel will be a better bet if you often do long motorway journeys.
When the 114bhp electric motor and 297bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine work together, the car will accelerate from 0-62mph in just 6.7 seconds – remarkably quick for such a big, heavy SUV. Admittedly, the car isn’t quite as sporty to drive as, say, a Porsche Cayenne, but it’s more engaging and nimble than many of its more comfort-focused rivals.
On top of that, as you'd only expect of a Range Rover, the Sport is also very adept away from tarmac. In fact, the instant torque and keen responses of its electric motors are a distinct help when you’re trying to negotiate tricky obstacles at low speeds off-road.
It’s true that the PHEV looks a little more expensive than some of its most direct rivals, but it does come very well equipped. So well equipped, in fact, that there’s no real need to buy anything more expensive than the most basic HSE version, which comes with xenon headlamps, automatic lights and wipers, alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control and sat nav.
Beyond that, should you fancy it, HSE Dynamic trim gives you larger alloy wheels and extra driving aids. And, on top of that, the range-topping Autobiography adds three-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control and an upgraded Meridian stereo system.
Whichever trim you go for, the Range Rover Sport has a wonderfully plush interior. This was much improved by a 2018 facelift, when Land Rover introduced a new twin-screen infotainment system inspired by the unit in the smaller Range Rover Velar. True, it’s not the easiest system to use, but give it time and you can master it.
What you'll certainly appreciate is that there’s room for four – and five at a pinch – in luxurious comfort inside, so this makes a fine family car. However, there are a few drawbacks to be aware of. For a start, the PHEV's boot is a little smaller than the regular Range Rover Sport's, and there’s no seven-seat option. In both cases, that’s because the batteries have to be housed under the boot floor, which is higher as a result.
Overall, though, there’s a lot to like about the plug-in Range Rover Sport. It has a fine balance of abilities on and off-road, as well as all the class and quality you'd expect of a Range Rover. Throw in the good standard equipment, spacious interior, strong safety credentials and improving reliability, and this is a car that’s certainly worth a look if you want a premium hybrid SUV.
For a more detailed look at the Range Rover Sport PHEV, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.