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Range Rover Hybrid: Smooth as Silk

After releasing its very first hybrid vehicle concept earlier this year, Range Rover decided to put the new diesel Hybrid prototype through a small test. The challenge being to convince the world that the new Rangie was firmly in possession of the legendary all-terrain capabilities of the company’s more fabled off-roaders.

Specifically, the test took the shape of the Silk Trail Expedition 2013, in which three diesel hybrid Range Rover prototypes took off on a 16,000km endurance drive from their West Midlands HQ in England to the financial capital of India, Mumbai – spanning 14 countries over the course of two months.

The epic journey, which flagged off late August, saw the three Range Rovers put through some of the world’s most punishing weather conditions, roads, passes and trails, including part of the original 6,400km Silk Road – a 2,000-year-old trading route that connected Asia with the Mediterranean.

Now in the fourth week of the expedition, the three hybrids have passed Uzbekistan's capital city, Tashkent – a famous stopping post for the storied silk merchants of the time – and have progressed to the high-altitude mountain passes of Kyrgyzstan (the 11th of the 14 countries on the route). Heading into the Fergana mountain range, the vehicles faced their toughest test yet: heavy rainfall, narrow and rutted mud tracks in darkness, and then slipping and sliding through rocky cattle trails to an altitude of 13,035 feet while braving icy winds.

We’re happy to report things seem to be going relatively smoothly for the three cars which, having been impeded only by tyre punctures and a cracked windscreen up to now, have effectively driven around 10,190km from Solihull, England, with China, Nepal and approximately 6,900km more to go to their final destination – Mumbai. The Silk Route drive is the final validation test for prototypes of the new Range Rover Hybrid before the model is signed off for production.

Range Rover Hybrid prototype basics:

3.0-litre SDV6 turbocharged diesel: 335bhp and 700Nm
Electric motor: 46bhp, 170Nm
1.76kWh, 266V Li-ion battery
Stop-start technology
Regenerative braking
Four-wheel drive
Terrain Response 2 system

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