We had some hands-on time with Land Rover's Range_e plug-in hybrid at the Geneva Motor Show, and we're happy to report that it is, to put it bluntly, the dog's biscuits. It's based on a standard Range Rover for a start, so it's incredibly capable, but it could also end up being cleaner and more efficient than a Toyota Prius.
The car was very much in the prototype stage. A little poking in the cabin revealed a host of wires hidden under the cup-holders. It also had two fuel filler caps -- one shielding the port for recharging the lithium-ion battery, and a second masking a socket for powering external devices, although this is unlikely to feature on final road cars. Most unnerving of all was the fire extinguisher positioned in the passenger-side footwell.
We'll forgive the car these minor indiscretions, however, as the Range_e is full of bleeding-edge tech. It sports a relatively large, 14.2kWh battery that can be recharged via the mains, and a 3-litre TDV6 diesel engine fitted with a host of particulate filters to minimise smog emissions. Together, they help the Range_e to achieve carbon-dioxide output of just 89g/km -- the same as a Toyota Prius or Auris Hybrid.
It gets better, too. That big lithium-ion battery allows the Range_e to travel for 22 miles on battery power alone, eliminating exhaust emissions entirely for short trips. Should you wish to go further, the diesel engine will kick in to afford the vehicle a total driving range of around 700 miles, at a whopping 85mpg.
All this sounds too good to be true, but apparently Land Rover is busy trialling a small fleet of Range_e test vehicles in the UK as we type. The company intends to use its hybrid technology in vehicles as soon as 2013.
Good luck to Land Rover, we say. If a Land Rover can out-Prius a Prius, then the future is incredibly bright for all cars.
Have a gander through the photos in our gallery to get a closer look.