4 Dec 2013

Range Rover Hybrid First Drive Review

Matt Hubbard reviews the 2014 Range Rover Hybrid which has both a 3 litre diesel and 35kW electric motor.

Range Rover Hybrid

The new Range Rover Hybrid was revealed earlier this year and will be in Land Rover dealers in 2014.

Being a hybrid it has two motors.  In this case they are a 3 litre SDV6 and a 35kW electric motor.  Together they have 335bhp and 516 lb ft of torque.

The electric motor and inverter sit in the engine bay - the Range Rover was designed with a hybrid system in mind - and the lithium-ion battery is located in the floor of the all aluminium chassis.  The entire hybrid system weighs 120kg.

So far so good.  The only difference you notice in the cabin is an EV button next to the terrain settings and some extra graphics in the electronic rev counter.

On the road the car has plenty of oomph.  It does 0-60mph in 6.9 seconds and has a top speed of 135mph.  The standard Range Rover is a quiet car, and so is the Hybrid.
Range Rover Hybrid

The vast amount of torque is apparent all through the rev range and gears.  It really pulls well, and feels more like an TDV8 than SDV6 - which it should because the outputs of the hybrid system are similar to the TDV8.

You don't feel the extra weight in corners - mainly because of the battery's low centre of gravity.  The Range Rover rolls more than the Sport through corners but the Hybrid is no more of a roly poly than its diesel brethren.

The hybrid system is integrated into the drivetrain so well that you would not know it was a hybrid.  In most hybrids, or electric cars, the system regenerates when not using the throttle.  This means that if you back off the power it feels as though the brakes are being applied.

This doesn't happen in the Range Rover - well actually it does but you don't feel it happening.

The electric motor works in tandem with the diesel to produce its combined 335bhp.  If you don't press the EV button the diesel engine is always on, unless you come to a complete halt.  The battery is charged during cruising and braking, and that energy is harvested whilst the accelerator is pressed so both powerplants are in use.

But if you do press the EV button you can drive at up to 30mph for 1 mile on the electric motor alone.

In reality I found that the diesel engine kicked in at 20mph, or under hard acceleration.  It's quite an odd sensation - moving along silently in a Range Rover.  But it's also quite pleasant and strangely satisfying.  I recorded a video of me trying to keep it in EV mode alone.

The Range Rover Hybrid costs £98,000, which is £11k more than a TDV6 Autobiography and £3.5k more than a TDV8 Autobiography.

The hybrid is more economical than the TDV6 and performs almost as well as the TDV8, which does 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds - 0.4 seconds faster than the hybrid.

Its USP is the fact it combines the TDV6's frugality and the TDV8's performance - but it does cost more than both.  The combined fuel and tax savings will repay some of that but, to be honest, when someone is paying nearly £100k for a car they're not really going to quibble about the odd thousand here or there.

In reality Land Rover will continue to sell a lot more TDV6s and TDV8s than hybrids, but its a worthwhile addition to the model line up - not least because as emissions regulations get ever more stringent then hybrids will become more mainstream and their prices will come down.

The Range Rover Hybrid drives like any other Range Rover, costs more to buy but costs less to run.  For the moment it's something of an expensive novelty but one that's backed up by some serious engineering.  If you are looking at a top spec TDV8, or even a 5 litre supercharged petrol you should also consider the Hybrid.

Range Rover TDV6 review


Price: circa £98,415
Engine: 3.0 V6 diesel plus 35kW electric
Transmission: 8-speed ZF automatic gerabox
0-62mph: 6.9 seconds
Top Speed: 135mph
Power: 335bhp
Torque: 516 lb ft
Economy: 44.1mpg
CO2: 169 g/km
Kerb weight: 2,394kg
Range Rover Hybrid

Range Rover Hybrid

Range Rover Hybrid

Range Rover Hybrid

Review by Matt Hubbard