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Driven: Range Rover Hybrid

Driven April 2014

Driven: Range Rover Hybrid

The Range Rover Hybrid is Land Rover's first attempt at a production hybrid, tasked with being just as brilliant on- and off-road as a normal Rangie, but with lower CO2. In other words, you can save the polar bears, as well as drive to go and see them.

It's a regular hybrid system, like the one in the Toyota Prius, but unlike the petrol Toyota, the Range Rover's electrical system works in conjunction with a diesel - the SDV6. As such, the hybrid Rangie has the power and pace of the SDV8 car (335bhp and 700Nm including 47bhp and 170Nm from the electric motor, 0-100kph in 6.9secs) with a 26 per cent improvement in CO2 to 169g/km. Land Rover claims it can do 15.6kpl and up to 48kph on electric power alone.

That's the theory. And the reality is pretty similar. On-road, it feels relaxed and comfortable and, other than an annoying cough when the diesel fires up, it's a smooth transition from pure electric to hybrid. Plus, thanks to the batteries being cleverly mounted on the underside of the chassis, interior space isn't compromised at all. There's even room for a full-sized spare.

Off-road? Initially, that's more concerning because of where those batteries are - outside and exposed to the elements. Granted, they've been encased in a boron-steel shell, but even so, it's a sobering thought as you plough into a muddy lake for the first time. Fortunately, no frying occurred.

But we have got a couple of other issues with the hybrid. Our chief niggle is the lack of electric range: Land Rover claims it'll drive a single, solitary battery-powered mile, but even that seemed beyond it - 400 yards in our hands was about the limit. There's also the lack of a clear graphic to let you know what mode you're in. Land Rover argues that it wants the hybrid system to operate very much in the background, without lots of extravagant images to let you know what's going on, but we found that we never knew how green we were.

To be fair, it's Land Rover's first foray into this sort of tech, and these are niggles that can be sorted, but we still wouldn't recommend it over the standard diesel. It's a good car, but the fuel and tax savings don't justify the extra cost (Rs 3.7 lakh) and weight (120kg). The regular engines are just too good.

The numbers
2,993cc, V6 diesel hybrid, 4WD, 335bhp, 700Nm, 15.6kpl, 0-100kph in 6.9sec, 216kph, 2,394kg, Rs 2 crore (approx)

The verdict
Loses none of the Rangie's all-round ability, but it doesn't deliver a compelling reason to choose it over the standard diesel.

Piers Ward

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