A Land Rover Defender with a plug may take some getting used to for the purist, but actually the P400e plug-in hybrid is just a harbinger of the future of Land Rover. The British have big plans with EVs: every new model will be fully electric by 2025. Plug-in hybrids bridge the gap between a fuel past and an electric future.
With grumblers it is bon ton to curse the genre. "No one ever charges that battery and everyone drives way too fast with a petrol engine that is way too thirsty!" But a plug-in Defender is above all a blessing in the Netherlands. Usually it is not pleasant when you view the price list of nice cars with us, but the Defender P400e dives with its price in one fell swoop well below 100,000 euros.
If you don't look at the plug range, the D200 with six-cylinder diesel engine is the cheapest Defender 110. It costs just over 113,000 euros. But then, as Evert ten Napel would say, there's that damn P400e. Land Rover promises a consumption of 1 in 30.3 and CO2 emissions of 74 grams. The government takes these values for granted and is satisfied with an amount of just under 6100 euros in bpm. The Defender P400e is therefore by far the cheapest version, with a base price of 85,824 euros. A difference of more than 27,000 euros compared to the D200!
We continue browsing through the price list and continue to amaze us. There is also a Defender with the same power as the P400e, but with a V6 and without a plug. This P400 costs almost 134,000 euros (X-Dynamic S), in the same version you pay for the P400e 'only' 93,625 euros. If you compare the P400e with the top model, the P525 V8, the price difference even rises to almost 135,000 euros. For the amount you save, you can easily buy the most complete Range Rover Sport P400e and save money for an adventurous road trip through the breathtaking Scottish Highlands.
Before we get into the Defender 110 P400e, just a word of credit to Gerry McGovern and his design team. Get ready to draw the successor to a legendary car that originally dates back to 1948. Critics are ready to tear you apart, jeering laughter is lurking. But the result presented in 2019 is astonishing. The Defender looks ultra-modern, but in details it is clearly inspired by its iconic but spartan predecessor. This sometimes happens flashy, for example, take a look at the clearly visible screw heads in the inside of the doors. Even the doors open at a smaller angle than you might expect. Boarding is therefore less elegant, but for the inveterate Defender driver it is a feast of recognition.
Under the skin, everything is modern: no rigid axle, no leaf springs, just an independent wheel suspension all around. The safety systems and infotainment also don't go back to the 1940s. The instrument panel is digital and almost all functions are controlled via a large screen in the center console. The high seating position has remained, the Defender goes more than two meters in the air and that means that you even look down on fat German SUVs.
In the Defender 110 P400e, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 300 hp works together with an electric motor that produces 143 hp, together they produce 404 hp and 640 Nm. The top speed of 191 km/h corresponds to that of the six-cylinder P400, but the plug-in hybrid is faster. It does the standard sprint to 100 km/h in 5.6 seconds, the P400 needs 6.1 seconds.
The electric motor is not only good for your wallet and for a traffic light sprint, but also for your experiences in the off-road. When we drove the Jeep Wrangler plug-in hybrid, we noticed that the torque of an electric motor can be dosed better in the terrain than a petrol or diesel engine. That is also the case with the Defender. The plug-in hybrid 'just' has all the features on board for the heavy work, such as low gearing, a differential lock and hill descent control.
An electric motor does not need to rev up before it can deliver power, it is readily available. That is a major advantage in the off-road, where you immediately have a lot of torque at your disposal when you drive off. The sound experience is remarkable. Instead of high revs, inevitable when you change the gear ratios in a 4x4 and pulling power becomes more important than speed, you hear nothing at all. The electric motor is a silent force that allows the Defender to effortlessly maintain speed as it plods through deep mud ruts or conquers a steep mountain. You can decide for yourself whether you want to drive off-road in silence, or whether you want to hear the petrol engine. The Defender has different driving programs in which you use the electric motor as much or as little as possible.
The good news about the plug-in hybrid is piling up, because you don't have to leave it standing if you want to transport horses or clear trees on your estate. The Defender P400e can tow a trailer of 3000 kilos.
Is there nothing bad to write about this Defender? Come on, there really is a downside. If you fully charge the 19.2 kWh battery, you can theoretically drive 43 kilometers fully electrically. But on a winter's day, the battery is empty again after less than 40 kilometers. The four-cylinder turbo engine then has to work hard to get this heavyweight of 2600 kilograms forward smoothly. You don't even notice that in the performance or the engine noise, but you do notice the consumption. Just blow through on the German highway and you can be happy if you drive 1 in 6. Different cake than the 1 in 30 from the folder...
If you don't have a charging station in your driveway, charging at a public charging station is no small feat. The Defender is five meters long and two meters wide and the tight Dutch parking spaces are not designed for that. Fortunately, a 360-degree camera is standard, so you can park meticulously. But this is the only moment when you think: if only I drove something handy. At all other times, the Defender 110 P400e will captivate you with its looks, its comfort, its all-terrain capabilities and its price.
During the Defender's photo shoot, it was cold and it had snowed a little. The forest paths around Nijmegen had turned into mud paths. The sound of mud splashing against the underside of the car, and the assurance that the Defender will easily get this job done, is priceless. You tend to buy an old English castle, so that you really have a reason to buy this Defender. The Defender 110 P400e is a welcome addition for the Netherlands: you pay tens of thousands of euros less, but that is not at the expense of driving pleasure.
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