ELECTRIC AVENUE: RANGE ROVER ADDS A PLUG-IN HYBRID DRIVETRAIN
Land Rover has succumbed to environmental pressure and followed Porsche and Bentley by fitting its flagship Range Rover with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Tomwiltshire takes it for a spin
the V6 petrol, but less expensive than the fire-breathing V8 petrol models. It can count the new Bentley Bentayga hybrid and Porsche Cayenne hybrid as rivals.
Where buttons remain, they’re seamlessly integrated into one another, and light-up too. Thicker windows and noise-cancelling tech aim to make the car even more eerily silent than before, and there are new seats, too. But, of course, the biggest change is the powertrain...
WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET? The Range Rover PHEV debuts the brand’s first plug-in hybrid powertrain. It mates a 296bhp, 2.0-litre petrol engine with an 85kw electric motor for a maximum power figure of 399bhp. That’s good for a 0-60mph sprint of 6.4 seconds and a top speed of 137mph - or 85mph if travelling on electricity alone. Land Rover claims a combined fuel economy figure of 101mpg. The reality is very dependent on how you drive.
If you charge the car every night and the majority of your journeys are within the 31-mile electric range, you might hardly need to use the petrol engine. In solo cruising with a discharged battery, though, we achieved a more realistic Range Rover economy figure of 24mpg. The engine is powerful, with a seamless transition between power sources. Push it hard, though, and the raucous note of the comparatively small engine penetrates the cabin.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? Range Rovers are at their best while ‘wafting’ at high speed on smooth roads - nothing’s changed here. Air suspension irons out the bumps and the vast wheels make mincemeat of minor road irritations. What’s surprising is how well the Range Rover hides its size - it’s remarkably easy to drive, aided by peerless visibility and accurate steering.
However, the heavy hybrid model isn’t quite as responsive as its siblings down a twisting road - the retuned suspension doesn’t hide bumps in the same way, and changes of direction are a bit more ponderous. It’s ideal in the city, though, where the serene sensation of running on pure electricity makes the Range Rover feel somehow even more luxurious.