Watch this: Range Rover Hybrid: Efficient Opulence
I make no secret of my love for the Range Rover. It's a "do anything" car -- you can take it through a desert or take the vicar to tea in utter comfort. It's not out of place anywhere it goes and looks immaculate covered in filth or shiny clean. It's ace.
Land Rover has been busy making sure the Range Rover is up to snuff on the eco front and has just launched a hybrid version. It offers the performance you usually get from a diesel V-8, but economy that's verging on quite respectable. Oh, and you can still take it off-road, or to the tearooms, without any bother at all.
Land Rover claims the Range Rover Hybrid will manage 44.1 mpg (UK) and its CO2 output is a minimal (for a Range Rover) 169 g/km. Its eco-ness isn't going to make Greenpeace start buying Range Hybrids as crew cars, but it's a solid effort.
It's powered by a 3.0-litre V-6 turbodiesel and an electric motor -- combined there's 335 bhp and 516 lb. ft. to play with. Hardly small change, is it? The electric motor gives you one whole mile of pure EV mode; you may baulk at that but consider the car weighs 2.4 tonnes...it's not all that bad, is it? Land Rover says it's best to leave the car out of EV mode and pop it in Auto -- the car will use the 'leccy power as and when it needs it for best effect. I have to say I agree.
Land Rover worked on the switch from EV only (which is very strange by the by -- a silent Range Rover is a bit creepy) to full hybrid mode. The engineers didn't want a car that obviously switched over, so built a car that's seamless in swapping modes of propulsion. It's a nice touch and adds to the overall Range Roverness of the car.
Range Rover Hybrid: Go anywhere with more eco cred (pictures)
The Range Rover Hybrid isn't a plug-in hybrid. Its batteries are charged by engine braking, regenerative braking and simply revving the knackers off the V6. The regenerative braking, incidentally, doesn't screw with the brake feel. Often, cars that draw electrical energy from the brakes have a hard, nasty brake feel, Land Rover worked hard to make sure the pedal feel is bang on.
Zero to 60 mph happens in 6.9 seconds and it'll top 135 mph. It's all rather impressive, if I'm honest.
However, with a big bank of batteries and LOTS of high voltage gubbins under the car, you have to wonder whether taking it though several feet of water is a good idea. Thankfully, Range Rover's engineers have made it just as capable as its less eco cousins. It's truly spectacular off-road and comes with all the toys that turn an amateur in to an off-road pro. It doesn't make you feel stupid at all.
All in all it's a brilliant package -- comfortable, fast, economical and able to tackle a desert. What's not to love about it?
You can only have a Range Rover Hybrid in the top Autobiography spec. As such, a shiny new Range Rover Hybrid will cost you £98,000 (and a bit). That's the same price as the supercharged 5.0-litre V-8, which comes with more power, more speed and a super smooth engine. It's easily the best engine in the range.
So if you're going to drop nearly £100,000 on a car, will you really, honestly care about putting fuel in it? Or will you simply get the fast one and spend more money on super plus? Land Rover says the Hybrid is for "captains of industry" who want to be seen as environmentally responsible. Now, if I were in the position to be seen as a captain of industry and needed a green image boost, I'd buy a Prius for meetings and drive a Ferrari when I'm unlikely to be seen by anyone who matters. Wouldn't you?
The Range Rover Hybrid is an incredible piece of engineering. It shows that Land Rover is very serious about cutting emissions and being more environmentally responsible while also keeping its luxury game high. I just wonder whether its customers feel the same way.