Land Rover Defender PHEV review

The Land Rover Defender plug-in hybrid might be a steppingstone to full electrification, but it’s a very good one.

Pros: 43km electric range, low tax, superb off-road

Cons: thirsty, soft ride, counter-intuitive buttons

When Land Rover launched the new Defender, many expected there to be a battery-electric version straight away, but for now we have to settle for a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that can drive up to 43km in electric mode. A fully electric version will come, but the PHEV is not only a good solution for the global market, but it turns out it’s a good model all on its own.

Land Rover Defender PHEV Design

Unless you see it plugged in to a charger, you’re unlikely to tell the PHEV apart from any other Defender. The only tell-tale signs are a discreet P400e badge on the tailgate and the presence of two filler flaps. Everything else is regular new Defender, which means stylish design and the ability to make it look like an urban ‘warrior’ or a travel-the-world expedition vehicle.

Land Rover Defender PHEV Interior

Inside is a combination of rugged design and the latest technology, including a digital instrumentation screen, Pivi Pro infotainment system (it’s well worth upgrading to the larger screen), three-zone climate control, premium LED headlights and the option of things like a head-up display. It’s all premium and a bit luxurious, but at the same time it gives you that feeling that you can go anywhere, which you probably can. There’s an EV button on the centre console and PHEV specific displays on the infotainment screen that tell you which motors are doing what, how much electric range you have and how economically you have been driving.

Land Rover Defender PHEV Performance & Drive

The Defender PHEV has a combined output of 404hp and 640Nm from the electric motor and a four-cylinder petrol engine. Run it in pure electric mode and you can drive for up to 43km silently and without emissions, which is impressive considering it weighs over 2.5 tonnes, but these numbers don’t tell the whole story. Because the electric motor provides additional power to the petrol engine, this Defender can sprint to 100km/h from rest in just 5.6 seconds, which is only a fraction slower than the upcoming V8 version. There’s a choice of Hybrid, EV and Save modes, the former proving the best all-rounder when it comes to keeping consumption as low as possible though really, that’s not very low. Switch to Save and the electric motor stays off until you want to use it, such as when cruising through town, although you can also drive off-road using just the electric motor. It’s all wonderfully comfortable, although in true off-roader style the suspension can be a bit soft.

Land Rover Defender PHEV Pricing

Prices start at  €73,230, which means it undercuts rivals like the BMW X5, but while it is only available as a long wheelbase 110 model, you can’t have seven seats due to the batteries beneath the boot floor. There’s a wide range of packs available making it easier to decide on options or you could sit for hours ticking boxes on the extensive list of individual choices to make your Defender more your own.

Carzone Verdict: 4.0/5

Admittedly, it’s heavy, the ride’s a bit soft and the fuel consumption’s a bit rubbish if you don’t plug it in every time the car is at a standstill, but this is a stylish SUV that can be a gentle motorway cruiser, performance sprinter and go-anywhere off-roader. It can do all of this while having the potential of driving for a while in pure electric mode and having emissions as low as 74g/km, which means it’s not only cheaper to buy than many rivals, but it’s also low on tax every year. It’s very possible that this is the best new Defender yet.

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