New Car Review: Land Rover Defender P400e S

Starting Price: €78,280

Price as tested: €89,150

The P400e is a PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle)

GOOD STUFF

  • Tonka Toy looks, potent acceleration, decent EV performance

BAD STUFF

  • Slightly hesitant to move off, ride height can be a pain in car parks 
Land Rover has got the styling just right with this new Defender.

WHAT IS IT?

The Land Rover Defender P400e is a way to own a Land Rover Defender and not get pelted with eggs by environmentalists as, if your commute allows, you could be sailing around in an, albeit massive, electric vehicle for the most part. The PHEV version of the Defender, an SUV which has managed to succeed at the almost impossible task of replacing the iconic original Defender, a vehicle that survived war zones and fashion but eventually fell to emissions and safety. The new one looks great, even though it’s massive compared to the original, but that is in no small part to the fact that it is actually comfortable, you can drive it if you are over 6 foot tall, like me, and you don’t need to have Lance Armstrong’s calves to change gear. The P400e PHEV powertrain offers silent, zero tailpipe emissions driving in EV mode for around 43km and overall CO2 emissions of just 74g/km. 

HOW ABOUT THE LOOKS?

The Defender design works and it could have gone so badly wrong. Land Rover designers managed to give the latest version the same silhouette as the original and it keeps the short front and rear overhangs. For the uninitiated, the 110 has a longer design, with the 90, the shorter design. The 110 offers five, six or 5+2 seating configurations, with a loadspace behind the second-row seats up to 1,075-litres, and up to 2,380-litres when the second row is folded. Our test model was an ‘S’ grade model with an €885 Black Exterior Pack and it looked awesome. It is unashamedly brash and bulky and square and I loved it. In a world of increasingly dreary-looking EVs, this was the ideal antidote and the fact that it comes with a plug makes it all the sweeter. 

Charging can take place at a standard wallbox but also at CCS chargers.

WHAT IS THE INSIDE LIKE?

The interior is a blend of luxury and ruggedness, which isn’t an easy thing to achieve. The modular architecture has lots of exposed bodywork and there are exposed visible fixings that retain the structural door casing while partially exposing the painted doors. There is a wipe-clean functionality in places, with a durable, rubberised floor that combines with flush door sills which you can literally mop out. There are other cool features throughout, including cast magnesium features, passed waist rails, grab handles and armrests. There is a 10-inch central touchscreen that controls the infotainment system, which is very good – it responds very quickly. Land Rover say they have reduced the steps in the menus and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto feature too. The Bluetooth technology can handle two smartphones simultaneously and there are some impressive cameras to take care of tricky descents. There is a 3D Surround Camera that provides a 360-degree plan and new 3D exterior perspective views of the surrounding area, both off and on-road. 

Interior is a mix of luxury and utility

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

You sit high and in a very commanding position in the Defender and it is, thankfully, nothing like the old version to drive, which was charming yet challenging. This feels more like the Discovery – elegant but with wellies on. The PHEV version employs a 105kW electric motor, powered by a 19.2kWh battery alongside the 300PS 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder for a combined power output of 404PS and this makes the P400e feel very rapid for such a big vehicle. 0-100km/h takes just 5.6 seconds and while we didn’t get the stopwatch out, we would well believe it. There is a massive 640Nm of torque on offer from this version and while Land Rover claim it can do about 43km on a full charge (which incidentally can be done on a CCS charger, which is something we haven’t seen before on a PHEV) we reckon about half that figure is realistic unless you are really light-footed around town. There are three driving modes. Hybrid mode is the default driving mode and combines petrol and electric power for optimum efficiency, SAVE mode holds the battery charge status so it can be used at a later stage, say when you come into a city, while EV mode runs solely on electric power. If you lived close to your office you could, theoretically, use very little fuel in this car. The fact that the CO2 emissions are just 75g/km should make you feel super smug too when you go to the motor tax office. A year of motor tax in the P400e is a scarcely believable €150 per year. Fuel economy, in theory, is 3.9 l/100km which is around 72 mpg. We got less, but then we didn’t really try too hard. Some drawbacks for me were that it delays a little before moving off and that can be a little disconcerting and it is also stupidly tall at times – the extra shark fin aerial often requiring lowering the car to access some car parks. 

Defender has peerless off-road ability

WHICH ONE SHOULD I BUY?

This one. There are more expensive versions and you could lose your mind choosing personalisations and optional extras but it would be pretty pointless. Do as Land Rover did with the press demonstrator and get an S model and add a few bits – in this case, we got the Black Exterior Pack (€885), Sliding Panoramic Roof, which looks the business, but costs an eye-watering €2,825, front fog lights are €275, the Cold Climate Pack (Steering wheel, screen) €990, Carpet Mats €135, Black Contrast Roof €1,540, Home charging cable €350 and a 12-way heated semi-powered front seat brought the total to €89,150. Yes, it’s a lot of money, but if you are shopping for a Defender you probably don’t care. 

The P400e can be charged to 80% in about 2 hours using a 7kW wallbox and will charge in just 30 minutes at a DC charger.

IS IT SAFE? 

The Defender 110 has a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, scoring 85 per cent for Adult and Child Occupant protection and 79 per cent for Safety Assist. In the event of a collision you would probably destroy anything you hit, so please drive safely. 

VERDICT: 

The P400e messes with your head in the most lovely way. It feels like a naughty V8, yet can glide along in EV mode. You can accelerate ferociously too, yet know that your CO2 emissions aren’t that bad. Sure it takes up a lot of space on the road and it is painfully awkward in car parks, but this is a great machine that looks epic. 

Spec Check:

Land Rover Defender P400e S

Engine: Inline, 4-cylinder, 2.0-litre turbocharged + 105kW electric motor / 19.2 kW lithium ion battery

Power: 404PS @ 5,500rpm

Torque: 640Nm @ 1,500 – 4,400 rpm

0-100km/h: 5.6 seconds

Fuel Economy: 3.9 l/100km (72.1 mpg) 

Top Speed: 191 km/h

Transmission:8-speed automatic

Co2: 74g/km (5-seater)

Annual Motor Tax: €150

Luggage Capacity: 

Price as tested: €89,150 

For more information log-on to www.landrover.ie

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