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

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - FIRST DRIVE BY TOM WILT­SHIRE

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.

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