What a treat to spend a week with the new plug-in hybrid Land Rover Defender P400e
Car Reviewed : Land Rover Defender 110 P400e X-Dynamic S
A year after the long-awaited debut of the replacement of the old Defender that had lasted longer than the reign of Elizabeth II, it’s a thorough delight to make the acquaintance of this stunning car in a proper full-scale test.
The hybrid drivetrain – a two-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine plus electric motor and 19.2 kWh battery – is too bulky to fit in a shorter wheelbase Defender 90 so our test car, like all hybrid Defenders, was the 110 lwb version called the P400e.
The drivetrain is not the only thing about this car that could be called bulky. You tend to forget how long the 110 is, but when it was parked close to our house, it blocked the light through the windows in the sitting-room which are five metres long. Similarly, the height might be called uncompromising. Standing on special 20” wheels and all-season tyres, the roof was way above my head at 6’. I didn’t even think of trying to take my 91-year-old mother-in-law out for one of her jaunts in a car that would take her more effort to enter than the Queen climbing into the throne at the State Opening of Parliament.
The Defender was, however, a resounding hit with the rest of the family. My wife loved the height of the passenger seat and the commanding view of the rabble which is provided (though she was critical of the quality of the sound reproduction on the 700w, 14-speaker audio system). When we drove one of our daughters and her best friend to a music festival, they enjoyed regal quarters in the back seats and more than enough space for all their kit in the loadspace behind the awkwardly hinged rear door (which has to be reversed gingerly into any parking space lest the radius of the swinging door together with its massive rear-wheel attachment should exceed the space behind).
The total output of that hybrid drivetrain amounts to 398 bhp with 472 ft-lb of torque or pulling power. That kind of heft would stick a rocket up the bum of a T42 tank, so it’s no surprise that this Defender can put a move on. Acceleration from 0-60 is less than 5.5 seconds and is slightly nippier than we ever saw from one of this model’s predecessors. The amazing thing is that cumbersome as it looks, this 110 can actually manage all that grunt. Body roll through corners is undisturbing. Steering and handling are accurate and tight. It seems to get better the faster you go, which may never have been said of a Land Rover in 70 years.
All this excellence comes at a price, both over the counter and on the road. The £73775 all-in price of our test car makes this nobody’s idea of an entry-model for a range and the average fuel consumption figure of 23mpg on the display would alarm anybody but a laird in these penny-pinching days. Land Rover claim 72-85 mpg average, but you can only get near that figure when the EV function is fully kicking-in. Given that the battery range is only 27 miles, you’d better stay close to the farm with this car if you want to enjoy it at its best.
Neil Lyndon has been a journalist, broadcaster and writer on the UK’s national stage for 40 years, writing for every “quality” newspaper on Fleet Street. He started writing about cars and motorbikes for The Sunday Times in the 1980s and was Motoring Correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph for 20 years, having previously written a column on motorbikes for Esquire. He is also recognised as a leading commentator on gender politics, having published No More Sex War in 1992 – the first ever critique of feminism from a radical, egalitarian point of view.
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