2014 Range Rover Hybrid prototype review

* First production Land Rover hybrids * 44.1mpg and 169g/km CO2 emissions * Available to order from 10 September...

2014 Range Rover Hybrid prototype review

Earlier this week, Land Rover revealed details of its new Range Rover Hybrid models. What Car? has just driven a prototype of the new Range Rover Hybrid, both on- and off-road, to get a first impression of the technology.

Land Rover’s new hybrid system combines the SDV6 diesel from the Range Rover Sport with a 46bhp electric motor to produce a combined output of 335bhp and 516lb ft of torque. Both figures are identical to the output of the current SDV8 diesel engine available in the Range Rover.

The hybrid system’s key selling point is its impressive fuel economy and emissions figures. Land Rover says both the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport Hybrid models achieve 44.1mpg in official tests, and emit 169g/km of CO2.

Compared to the less powerful TDV6 in the Range Rover, it emits 14% less CO2 and gets 17% more range out of every gallon of diesel.

What’s the 2014 Range Rover Hybrid like to drive?

The Range Rover Hybrid pulls strongly from low revs, as you’d expect given the amount of torque on offer. It has the same eight-speed automatic gearbox as the regular Range Rover, but the shift modes are assigned slightly different tasks.

In the Drive setting, the hybrid system uses an optimised mode that targets efficiency, balancing use of the electric motor with power from the engine to use as little fuel as possible. Land Rover’s system also has a coasting function that switches off the engine on overrun.

During our test route, the car reported that the engine was switched off for 20% of the journey. What’s most impressive about the electric intervention is how smooth the transitions are between engine and motor; there is no perceived change in noise or refinement, which helps to maintain the feeling of luxury.

Switching to Sport mode targets performance instead; the electric motor is used to provide maximum boost to the engine, giving the car near-equivalent performance to the Range Rover SDV8. The hybrid versions are 0.5 seconds quicker from 0-62mph than the TDV6 in the Range Rover and the SDV6 in the Range Rover Sport.

The Neutral setting on the gearbox also has a special purpose in the Hybrid; keep the car held using the parking brake and you can recharge the battery in Neutral using a small amount of revs. If the battery is fully charged, Land Rover claims the Hybrid will run in electric mode for around a mile at 30mph.

If you switch to ‘EV mode’ on the centre console, the car prioritises electric driving, which captures more energy from regenerative braking and diverts more power to charging the battery. The system then uses electric-only driving once it has sufficient capacity, which is around 75% charge.

The upside of having such a limited electric-only range is that there’s only a small capacity battery under the floor, which doesn’t add too much weight. Land Rover says the whole hybrid system, including a high-strength steel shield to protect the battery, adds less than 120kg in total to the overall weight.

The Range Rover Hybrid has the same agility around town as the regular model, but the prototype we drove had slightly less roll off the centre of the steering. It also felt somewhat firmer over bumps and ruts, although we’ll have to wait until we’ve driven the production version to see whether this is just a quirk of the development car.

The ride quality is still superb on the hybrid version of the Range Rover, coupled with precise, well-weighted steering that gives you manoeuvrability around town and confidence at higher speeds.

What’s the 2014 Range Rover Hybrid like inside?

You’ll need a keen eye to spot the differences between the cabins of the regular Range Rover and the Hybrid. That’s no bad thing, as the interior of the current car is about as luxurious as it gets. Everything feels wonderfully well-built.

Land Rover designed the new Range Rover with the hybrid model in mind, so there are no sacrifices for either passenger or luggage capacity; the hybrid system is simply tucked away in the available pockets of space under the floor and in the engine bay.

The Range Rover Hybrid will be available in Autobiography trim only. That means it will come loaded with equipment as standard, including an eight-inch colour touch-screen, sat-nav, DAB radio, climate control, a full-length panoramic glass roof, surround camera parking system, Meridian audio system and automatic lights and wipers.

Should I buy one?

The Range Rover is our reigning Luxury Car of the Year, so we think it’s a great car to spend your money on, if you can afford to.

Land Rover says the Hybrid will be pitched alongside the supercharged V8 as one of the flagship models in the range, and we’d expect it to cost around £100,000 when it goes on sale in September. This is expensive compared to the TDV6, but when you think of it as a more refined, more efficient rival to the SDV8, it seems like better value.

The TDV6 is our current pick of the range because it is the most affordable, yet has more than enough performance on offer. However, for buyers who crave Land Rover’s latest technologies, the new Range Rover Hybrid offers genuinely enhanced performance and efficiency, with no compromises to ride, handling or interior space.

Specification Range Rover Hybrid

Engine size 3.0-litre diesel with electric motor

Price from £100,000 (est.)

Power 335bhp

Torque 516lb ft

0-62mph 6.9 seconds

Top speed 135mph

Fuel economy 44.1mpg

CO2 169g/km

Specification Range Rover Sport Hybrid

Engine size 3.0-litre diesel with electric motor

Price from £80,000 (est.)

Power 335bhp

Torque 516lb ft

0-62mph 6.7 seconds

Top speed 140mph

Fuel economy 44.1mpg

CO2 169g/km

By Ed Callow