A Question of Range Rover Sport: PHEV or MHEV?

As someone born and raised in Essex, I’m no stranger to the Range Rover moniker. In my childhood years, before Instagram and reality TV, I was glued to car magazines in which you could browse the latest modified Range Rovers from the likes of Kahn and Overfinch in the classifieds. 

22” rims and glued-on boot spoilers aside, this was the same era when JLR let their design team loose to birth the Range Stormer; a 2-door concept Range Rover with Lamborghini doors, finished in a loud metallic orange. 

Photo Source: Land Rover Media

The Range Stormer was created for the sole purpose of igniting conversation, mostly in the North American market under the watchful eye of Land Rover’s then owners, Ford. Contrary to the traditional reasoning behind showcasing a concept car at an auto show – providing a new design direction that will trickle down into future models in coming years – the Range Stormer was created after the Range Rover Sport was more or less complete. 

Photo Source: Land Rover Media

Land Rover wanted to whet the appetite of potential customers by teasing a Range Rover which was focused on performance and styling… and that’s exactly what they did. The Range Stormer was unveiled in January 2004 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, followed by the announcement of the Range Rover Sport ten months later. 

Photo Source: Land Rover Media

Launched in the same ‘Vesuvius Orange’ as the Range Stormer, the Sport was smaller and more aggressive than its big brother. It was marketed as a ‘Sports Tourer SUV’ with adaptive ‘Dynamic Response’ suspension and an all-new Terrain Response system first seen on the Discovery, of which the Sport shares its chassis. The Range Rover Sport was a huge success, whether it was Posh and Becks or Brady and Bündchen, the Range Rover Sport was undoubtedly the ‘it’ car for the A-listers when it debuted. 

Photo Source: Land Rover Media

The second generation of the Range Rover Sport was dynamically debuted in New York, with James Bond actor Daniel Craig behind the wheel in late 2013. A discerning choice given the success of Skyfall, released just months prior and featuring several JLR products. This Range Rover Sport was all-new, lighter, sexier and more luxurious, all of the features which made the Sport a unique proposition to its bigger brother. 

Photo Source: Land Rover Media

Photo Source: Land Rover Media


Not even a year later, JLR announced a new variant to the Range Rover Sport lineup, the Sport SVR. The SVR was created by JLR Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) and boasted an outrageous 550PS/680nM created from the 5.0L supercharged V8 found in the F-Type R. It thoroughly tested on the infamous Nürburgring and had a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds, which for an SUV was nothing less than incomprehensible at the time. The SVR sent the Range Rover Sport’s popularity into the stratosphere; the rest is history.


Photo Source: Land Rover Media

Photo Source: Land Rover Media

The Range Rover, either in full-fat or in Sport form, is undoubtedly the most popular SUV you see in London. There’s no denying that the SW postcodes are the Land of Rovers; seeing a white Autobiography being driven by a yummy mummy who exclusively wears Lululemon while sipping an oat flat white on the school run (with her only experience off-roading being in the Soho Farmhouse gravel car park) is a common occurrence. I wanted to mimic that experience, sans school run and nylon of course. 


After discussing with the team at JLR, they agreed to make my stay-at-home-Chelsea-housewife dreams come true and delivered not one, but two Range Rover Sports to my door. I’m comparing their plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain with a mild hybrid (MHEV) offering, and seeing which was better to live with. The two powertrains being tested are the P510e First Edition and the D350. 

The P510e (PHEV) is powered by JLR’s 3.0L petrol Ingenium twin-turbo inline-6 paired with a plug-in hybrid battery. It generates 510PS and will see 62mph from A standstill in 5.2 seconds. When solely using its 141bhp electric motor, the 38.2kWh battery is claimed to cover up to 70 miles. One thing to note about this particular PHEV is the availability of rapid charging up to 80%, a feature not commonly found in most PHEVs. 

The D350, on the other hand, utilises a 3.0L diesel Ingenium twin-turbo inline-6 paired with a mild hybrid battery. This is the more powerful diesel offering, producing 350PS and holds a 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds. The main difference between the two Sports is the petrol PHEV can run in full EV mode, whereas the diesel MHEV cannot. This plug-in capability does come at a cost because the P510e is almost 400kg heavier at 2,810kg than the D350, which weighs 2,435kg.

Once you’re behind the wheel of the Sport, you realise just how high you are. You truly gain a sense of superiority when you’re towering above everyone else on the road and the car does feel massive when driving, mostly because it is. At a vertically gifted 6 ft 4”, I find getting in and out of the Sport a breeze. However, my mother, sister and brother-in-law, all of whom aren’t 6 ft 4”, found it rather difficult. This can be rectified by purchasing the official side steps from JLR as an accessory at the cost of £3,995 and having them fitted at a dealer. After you adjust to how big the Range Rover Sport is, it’s a rather pleasant place to be. 

The majority of Range Rovers you see are equipped with the ‘Autobiography’ trim level, this being the highest spec you can get before dipping your toe in JLR’s SVO bag of tricks. The Autobiography trim includes both interior and exterior upgrades such as 22” rims, Dynamic Exterior Pack, sliding panoramic roof and Meridian 3D surround sound.

The cabin in the Sport is more or less identical to that found in the full-fat Range Rover; the steering wheel is equipped with a plethora of buttons and a minimalist dashboard houses a large 13.1” floating touchscreen with sleek vents. Behind the steering wheel sits an even bigger 13.7” display, which can be set to show a full-screen satnav, trip details and media. The Sport uses JLR’s latest Pivi Pro 3 infotainment system – a beautifully presented and intuitive one, although some would argue the many options within the menus are excessive. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard and work seamlessly. Paired with the wireless charging tray underneath the screen, it makes for a cable-free driving experience… although don’t expect fast charging on your device (or to charge your device for too long, for that matter, as the charging pad itself does get rather hot). A single USB 3.0 port can be found hidden under the cupholders and a USB-C port with more USB-C ports scattered around the cabin. 

You’ll find physical switches such as the drive selector, start/stop button, volume, terrain response and climate controls on the centre console. This is very reminiscent of the previous generation Range Rover Sport minus the additional display used for climate and drive settings. Instead, you find a small selection of touch buttons which correspond to climate controls. JLR took a page straight out of Apple’s playbook, much like when they replaced the aesthetic Touch Bar with physical keys on the MacBook Pro. It was simply less annoying and more practical. 

Unfortunately, what is annoying is that from the 2024 Manufacturing Year, all Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models have had the physical terrain response and climate controls completely removed with the respective settings now within menus on the touchscreen. I’ve not had firsthand experience with this particular interface, as both Sports provided were pre-2024 MY, so I can’t pass judgement on how it is to use. However, my overall stance on removing functional buttons in the pursuit of ultra-minimalism is that brands hire highly qualified interior designers for a reason: to make it work. A button-free dashboard looks a lot uglier when it’s been put into a tree as a result of the driver trying to turn off their massage seat. 

On the topic of seats, longer journeys make you appreciate how comfortable the 22-way adjustable, heated and ventilated front seats are. With the massage function on, it’s like driving in a La-Z-Boy, the wide-set leather seats hug you as you waft through the countryside. I found little to no fatigue when driving for prolonged periods but there is one thing that did hinder my otherwise comfy experience. Whenever either of the front seats is adjusted, half of the infotainment screen is obscured by a chair animation. I couldn’t figure out if this was a setting I could switch off but I know for a fact this isn’t an issue present in the current generation Defender which also utilises the Pivi Pro 3 infotainment system. When most of the cabin is being geared towards just utilising a screen, having a large amount of it obscured by your seat settings is irritating, to say the least.

The advanced Active Noise Cancellation separates the occupants from the outside world and keeps the cabin tranquil, allowing you to waft around in peace or take advantage of the 29-speaker Meridian 3D surround sound system. The sound system itself was satisfactory; during my time with both Sports I didn’t feel like there was any remarkable moment that induced praise regarding the system, and nor were there any complaints from the occupants. Even on longer journeys where I listened to a varied playlist, the Meridian 3D surround sound system was good, but nothing to rave about. There are far more impressive premium sound systems which provide greater clarity and deeper bass found in the Sport’s German rivals.

The cabin of the Range Rover Sport is full of premium touch points. You can find leather across the cabin, soft-touch headlining and solid metal shift paddles behind the steering wheel. There is, however, an alarming amount of chrome-look and shiny black plastic throughout the cabin, which doesn’t feel as premium as the previous Range Rover Sport. Given that a lot of physical components are being removed from the cabin, I’d expect less creaky and higher quality from a premium SUV, not least when there are solid-built interiors in its rivals. 

After spending an extended period with the Sport – both in the sprawling streets of London and the winding country roads of Oxfordshire and Wales – I believe the Sport is the perfect family car and grocery-getter, regardless if the nearest shop is Waitrose or Daylesford. I did manage to take the Sport off the beaten path and get the car slightly muddy, but nothing too treacherous at the fear of damaging the 22” rims. The Sport did handle any off-road obstacle I threw at it, even with my limited experience with green-laning. 

To drive, the P510e is great when the battery is fully charged. As someone who lives in Westminster, charging options are relatively varied. Having the rapid charge function is handy, especially when you only need to cruise silently in EV mode around the city in between coffee meetings. Honestly, the best part of having a PHEV Range Rover is taking advantage of the plethora of EV charging bays around London, even to the dismay of the average Tesla owner. Regenerative charging is wanting to say the least, which is a shame because it would make good use of the 510e’s hefty kerb weight. On average, I saw around 55-60 miles on a full charge and adding a full tank of petrol increased the overall range to around 430 miles. On longer journeys, the 510e is great until the battery goes flat. Then, you’re lugging around dead weight causing the MPG to plummet and performance to subside. Even with a flat battery, you still have the 3.0L Ingenium inline-6, which is by no means sluggish, and the P510e is a powertrain that has now been superseded by the more powerful P550e but there’s also an option for a less powerful P460e.

The more conventional ‘mild-hybrid’ diesel D350 lacks not only the EV drive mode but also the 400kg batteries that come with it. Unsurprisingly, this makes the already torquey diesel feel lighter on its feet. The D350, the most powerful diesel engine Land Rover offers on the Sport, offers plentiful power when on a spirited drive but also a tranquil cruise when on the motorway. A full tank on average gave me around 580 miles range – significantly higher than the 510e, and it doesn’t suffer from flat battery fatigue. 

If your day-to-day involves commuting from Surrey to London – where the thought of brushing shoulders with the great unwashed on public transport makes you break out in hives – the Range Rover Sport PHEV in either 460e or 550e form is best suited for you. In the worst-case scenario, 50 miles of pure EV driving should be able to get you to and from the office car park without taking a sip of petrol. However, If your life consists mostly of brunch at Soho Farmhouse during the week (to avoid all the weekend ‘Chelsea crowd’) via a stop off at Bamford, you may find the D350 better suited for the circa 160-mile round trip. 

Other than the range and the EV mode, both Sports drove more or less the same. Do you notice the extra battery weight when driving around the country roads in the Cotswolds? Yes, there’s no denying it. However, despite the name, the Range Rover Sport is better enjoyed at a leisurely pace with the massage seat on. It’s more croquet than rugby; it’s civilised and relaxing. Having said that, if you do enjoy a scrum, Land Rover has also just started producing the Sport’s beefiest model, the SV, powered by a 635hp BMW M derived 4.4L twin-turbo V8. Contrasting to that, they’ve also teased an all-electric Range Rover but we suspect that will be reserved for the full-fat version before trickling down to the Sport.

Photo Source: Land Rover Media

Photo Source: Land Rover Media

In a world where everything is changing and even Chelsea tractors are becoming more environmentally minded, the Range Rover Sport remains the staple family car for many across the world for a reason. Its go-anywhere capabilities paired with a paramount focus on the occupant’s comfort and elegant sweeping exterior lines make this an attractive option in the premium SUV market. There is a reason that Range Rover rules the road, it’s beyond the leather and massage seats. Range Rover ownership puts you above everyone else on and off the road. 


Roger Chan

Roger was born and raised in Essex, surrounded by the car culture of the late 90’s and early 00’s which has fuelled his adoration of cars ever since. The proud son of two Hong Kong immigrants, Roger has an equal passion for cuisine, travel and exploring new cultures. Since 2015, when he started pursuing photography Roger has worked with some of the world's most significant car manufacturers from McLaren to Maserati and BMW. Roger’s work has been featured across The Review's automotive articles and his work can be seen via his social accounts.

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