REVIEW: Land Rover Defender 110 P400e PHEV is the right recipe for urban commuters

Published Nov 3, 2023


By: Mpho Mahlangu

Who would’ve thought? A Defender which you can plug in, and drive on just pure electric power? It’s a fascinating concept, one which we seek to discover if it works in the real-world.

The Land Rover Defender 110 P400e plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) was introduced to the local market in 2021, and we recently spent time getting acquainted with it.

Getting right into the oily bits, the P400e PHEV is powered by both a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, and a 105kW electric motor working alongside a 19.2kWh battery. A combined power output of 297kW and 640Nm is on offer.

Power delivery is more than sufficient for the large adventure-ready SUV, whether in and around suburbia or out on the open road.

Of course, the biggest selling point for the P400e is the hybrid drivetrain. Land Rover claims up to 43km of pure electric driving range however I saw a real-world 40km figure, which isn’t far off from the manufacturer’s claim.

Most, if not all, customers buying this model would have a wall box charger installed at their home or office for ease of use. What this results in is a rather pleasant ownership experience.

Assuming that an owner of a Defender P400e travels roughly 40km to and from work daily, the ideology that they would plug in their vehicle at the end of each day would then enable them to constantly have pure electric range, thus making full use of the advantages of owning this specific plug-in hybrid model.

During my testing however, it wasn’t smooth sailing all the way. I live 15.5km away from my closest charging station, which is decently powered and located in a shopping complex. The reason why I prefer this specific charging station is due to the convenience of being able to double-up and complete my grocery shopping and run other errands whilst the vehicle is left to charge.

Fast forward to a full battery, and I of course need to drive back home. By the time I reach home after driving in pure electric mode, I’ve already used up almost half of the maximum range of 40km. Of course, it’s important to remember that my experience versus that of people who own the vehicle would be largely different.

Oily bits out of the way, the X-Dynamic HSE trim which we spent time with boasts several exterior and interior elements which show off the Defender’s off-roading prowess. Noteworthy, the P400e can perform off-road duties in high and low range, in pure electric mode. Those that love game drives would be ecstatic at this!

Inside, the Defender P400e still retains the same appointments as in the rest of the Defender range. A spacious, practical, and comfortable cabin is on offer, with impressively premium touch points too.

The Defender P400e doesn’t however receive the upgraded infotainment system that the other models have, however it still retains all the niceties such as the various off-road screens and high-quality 360-degree camera screens for on road and off-road use.

It's worth noting that a highlight of the Defender is its well-refined comfort on road, whether it’s soaking up the terrible roads in Gauteng, or traversing the long stretches of the open road with the utmost ease, the Defender boasts impressively low Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) levels, despite its large and squared-off shape, and our tester riding on optional 22-inch alloy wheels.

As a family-hauling vehicle, it certainly impresses on every aspect deemed important for the duties that it’s intended for.

With an asking price of R2,135,900 the Defender 110 P400e PHEV makes for a strong case for itself considering its renowned off-roading prowess combined with its overall practicality and hybridised drivetrain, making it quite a unique offering.

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