The Range Rover hybrid performance on a par with that of the mighty SDV8
By Stephen Grant – Motoring Journalist
Here’s one for you! What has the world’s most capable and desirable SUV and the humble Toyota Prius got in common? On the face of it very little, however, like the little Toyota so beloved of cab drivers, the Range Rover is available with a hybrid powertrain.
While the Prius makes do with a 1.8-litre petrol powerplant, the Range Rover’s 35kW electric motor is paired with Land Rover’s powerful twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine and matched with the company’s smooth ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. This produces an outstanding 340PS – with 700Nm of torque on tap – figures comparable to Land Rover’s stonkingly good SDV8 diesel engine. Fuel economy is officially 45.6mpg or 44.1mpg for the long-wheelbase version I was driving. In the short time I had the car, it achieved a respectable 38.1mpg. CO2 emissions are 164g/km and 169g/km respectively.
Just try and remember the LWB weighs more than 2.5 tonnes. Which probably explains why, at speeds of up to 30mph, it can only travel for up to a mile in electric-only mode before the engine restarts.
However, a standard 3.0 TDV6 diesel Range Rover can officially achieve 40.9mpg and emits 182g/km of CO2.
The Hybrid is also only available in range-topping Autobiography trim. So buyers will have to pay over £100,000 for the short-wheelbase model, and several thousand more for the long-wheelbase version I was driving. So, that little extra fuel economy costs a lot more money. The Hybrid – together with the 5.0-litre V8 Autobiography version – is the most expensive model in the Range Rover family.
A standard-wheelbase, diesel-powered model in Autobiography trim, costs £91,550. You do the maths!
But, let’s focus on the good stuff. The hybrid-powered Range Rover is little different to drive from a standard diesel version. The most noticeable change is the lack of any engine noise when you press the engine starter button. Slip the eight-speed gearbox into Drive and the Range Rover Hybrid pulls away using just the power from the electric motor – the only sound being the crunch of gravel under the alloys. Then, within a few seconds, the 3.0-litre V6 diesel cuts in seamlessly and only a little less more quietly. The system will function according to the driving conditions. Most of the time, the electric motor works with the diesel, so running silent is not something that happen often unless you hit the EV mode button.
On the road, the hybrid system acts like most other hybrids including the aforementioned Prius. They work best gathering braking energy when not driving on motorways and dual carriageways. They harvest battery power more efficiently when gliding up to traffic lights, roundabouts and junctions, or in rural areas on the overrun going down hills and so on.
With the engine and electric motor working in tandem, the immediately availability of torque is most noticeable and welcome under strong acceleration. Other than that, the hybrid power doesn’t really add – or take away – much.
Performance is on a par with that of the mighty SDV8 – 0-62mph takes 6.5 seconds and the top speed is 135mph, but the economy is much better. And there’s the usual ‘waftability’ as the air suspension smooths out the lumps and bumps in the road. It’s a wonderful place to sit back, relax and let the Range Rover take the strain as you eat up the miles. Even at speed, there’s only the faintest hum from the diesel engine to disturb your peace.
Passengers get an extremely good deal too. The rear door of the long-wheelbase model is huge, so climbing into the palatial back seats is easy. And even the tallest can stretch out most of the way should they feel the need. For practicality, of course, there’s the huge, 909-litre boot and the Range Rover’s signature split-level tailgate, as well as a full-size spare wheel and tyre beneath the floor.
I didn’t try it off-road, and in all honesty I doubt whether many will find their way across anything much more testing than a racecourse car park, but Range Rover’s full range of legendary off-road capability, remains entirely unaffected by the hybrid technology.
Convenience and technology features across the range include a new Surround Camera System, hands-free ‘gesture’ tailgate, Automatic Access Height and even more advanced In Control connected-car technologies. The new camera system provides improved clarity, creating sharper and clearer images on the central touchscreen display. A network of four cameras positioned in both front and rear bumpers and the side mirrors crisply relays the vehicle’s surroundings to the driver for maximum safety and convenience.
A reversing camera automatically displays the view behind the vehicle when reverse gear is engaged; when surround view is selected, the images from each camera combine to create an overhead view of the vehicle – a feature particularly useful when manoeuvring in confined spaces. .
The Automatic Access Height is immediately operational once the transmission is in Park. When the ignition is switched off or the driver’s seatbelt is removed, the vehicle automatically lowers by 35mm to aid entry and exit. Should any door handle be activated, the height decreases by an additional 15mm for enhanced convenience. The total time from switching the ignition off or removing the seatbelt to achieving a maximum ride height reduction of 50mm is just three seconds. The vehicle automatically returns to its optimised ride height at a speed of 9mph.
Hybrid models are a bit of a ‘must-have’ for manufacturers at the moment and it is incredible that Land Rover has brought this to Range Rover without compromising its legendary reputation for off-road ability combined with limousine refinement. Yes, the hybrid Range Rover is expensive to buy, but there will be more than enough wealthy fans for who price will not be an issue.
TOP SPEED: 135mph
0-62mph: 6.5 secs
FUEL ECONOMY: 44.1mpg
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