Prototype First Drive: Range Rover Hybrid

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Prototype First Drive: Range Rover Hybrid

Land Rover has staked a claim on producing the world's first all-terrain hybrid SUV with its new Range Rover – but it can only travel a MILE on electric power alone!
> Offering 26 per cent improvements in emissions and better fuel economy, Land Rover insists the 35kW battery is more about boosting the 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine's output rather than driving extended periods solely on electric power.

At a special preview event at the Frankfurt motor show, AOL Cars was treated to an early, albeit short, drive of the new hybrid luxury off-roader.

On the crowded German city's streets the imposing machine glided silently out of the car park and was noticeably more refined and eerily quiet compared to the standard V6 diesel model.

Drivers can opt for EV power only – but remember it's only for a mile – and Land Rover expects owners to select this when approaching, say, a luxury hotel's entrance for a super cool silent arrival.

What the engineers who took us on our short city spin were more inclined to point out was the fact this hybrid model performs like the bigger V8 diesel, but with the benefits of lower emissions of 169g/km of CO2 and reduced fuel consumption of 44.1mpg.

"The battery acts as a booster for the engine, constantly helping it during the drive," explained Peter Richings, Land Rover's director of hybrid technology. "Regenerative braking and higher revs recharge the battery as you drive so drivers can switch back to full EV for their arrival at events."

Prototype First Drive: Range Rover Hybrid

The hybrid model will hit 60mph in 6.7 seconds and go on to a top speed of 135mph. And, because the new Range Rover was designed from the outset with this hybrid power plant in mind, the battery doesn't impact on cabin space at all.

It's also just as capable off road. A specially made steel shield has been installed underneath to protect the battery from damage in even the toughest terrain.

Stop start technology boosts economy further – cutting the diesel engine when at rest and even during coasting at town speeds. And for the more enthusiastic drivers, a Sport mode harnesses the full power of both diesel and electric units for stronger acceleration.

Although our test of this prototype model lasted just 20 minutes, it was clear to see the technology is extremely advanced. It's a shame that it can't manage more than a mile on EV power, but then, even with the dramatic weight loss programme this new model was subjected to, the Range Rover is still a very heavy car.

The hybrid is more likely to appeal to those who demand lower emissions and better fuel economy, though is more of a conciliatory nod towards the green fraternity than a full on admission of climate-change guilt.

"This is not a priority EV vehicle, it's a hybrid designed to assist the engine rather than fully power the car," added an engineer during our test drive.

Executives expect the electric-diesel model to make up just one-and-a-half to three per cent of Range Rover sales with the model starting at around £88,000 for the Vogue and rising to £98,000 for the Autobiography. It is available to order now with deliveries beginning in early 2014.

Range Rover Hybrid gallery

Range Rover Hybrid gallery