Range Rover goes diesel-electric

Road test: Range Rover SDV6 Hybrid

We reviewed the new Range Rover earlier in the year and the headlines are that it is hugely improved, both in its driving dynamics and more subtle design. Removing 400kg over the previous version has also helped with its acceleration, its stopping, economy and, critically, its ability to go round corners.

Now there is a diesel-electric hybrid version, adding 70kg back on. This equates to a relatively small number of batteries, so the 35kW motor is not for prolonged use but complements the smooth 3.0 SDV6. Pulling away, it is wonderfully silent. Apparently, under light load, it can run on battery power alone for two-to-three miles. With my heavier foot and some exciting Worcestershire A-roads for the trial, the SDV6 engine kicks-in with a low chirrup and the ample diesel engine takes over seamlessly. Unlike many other hybrid combinations, the Range Rover’s motor sits in parallel with the engine so works on the full drive train. This means there is never any question about losing any of the vehicle’s renowned ability when the going becomes a little more taxing.

Out on the lanes I soon came-up against first a few stray sheep, then a few more and finally a whole flock, doing that dopey thing sheep do on fast A-roads: very little. Then the farmer arrived, not with a sheep dog or quad bike but an old Ford pick-up and encouraged the bewildered animals to amble in the right direction. I let him know about some others further back and he just turned round and disappeared after those stragglers, leaving me in the Range Rover hybrid to continue to persuade the unwilling sheep along the road.

Commanding

Dropping into fully-electric EV mode (possible for as long as there is charge in the batteries), the imposing, black Range Rover silently herded the sheep a few hundred yards until they turned-off down the farm track. The commanding driving position meant I could see all the animals and cocooned in leather luxury, this must surely be the easiest method of shepherding available to man.

Sheep gone and road clear, it’s time to sample Sport mode which uses the diesel engine plus everything it has available from the batteries at that time. It is still quite agile for its size; the additional battery weight equates to one fully-grown bloke in the vehicle so while it’s a short spell since I last took the helm of a new Range Rover, it didn’t feel hampered by the additional weight. The only difference in feel is with the braking. With much of the battery-charging being achieved by regenerative braking, this does change the feel of the Range Rover’s pedal action: braking can be a little grabby at times. The only other notable change is a drop in towing ability, from 3,500kg to 3,000kg.

Not a budget option

Land Rover is keen to emphasise that this is not a budget option so it is only available in the sumptuous Autobiography trim. As such, CO2 reduced to just 169g/km is likely to be of minimal importance to potential owners. However, the reduction in fuel use will increase the vehicle’s range and it does make it extremely civilised at low speeds and manoeuvring.

Whether the cost makes sense is a difficult discussion but the vehicle feels good to drive, retains its off-road pedigree and despite the Range Rover being a tad late in the hybrid game, it is a very pleasing package.

Range Rover SDV6 Hybrid, £98,430.

Power: 340hp, torque: 700 Nm, emissions: 169 g/km CO2 (band H), 0-60 mph: 6.5 secs.

Motor Writer rating: ●●●●○





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