Range Rover Hybrid First Drive in Land Rover& s superintelligent …

9 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Range Rover Hybrid First Drive in Land Rover& s superintelligent … отключены
Land Rover HYBRID

Fuel economy

44.1mpg combined (Europe)

CO2 emissions | range

169g/km (Europe)

Availability

Europe

Snatch the keys to the new Range Rover Hybrid, climb aboard, sink into the comfortable leather seats and you wouldn t have any inkling that this particular Range Rover is different. The observant might just pick out the HYBRID badges that sit behind the front wheels and on the tailgate, and real connoisseurs of the marque may casually note the 21-inch six-spoke wheels unique to the hybrid model, but that really is it.

Only when you fire it up does this particular Range Rover reveal its electrified subliminal self, because nothing fires up. Unless you re in a mad rush, the first experience you ll have in the 2014 Range Rover Hybrid is that of a two-and-a-half tonne behemoth smoothly pulling away in complete and utter silence. It s enough to make you laugh (or at least smile). If, on the other hand, you are in a mad rush you ll be aided by a 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel V6.

Business as usual, then.

How different?

On paper there s quite a big difference between the Range Rover Hybrid and the TDV6 model on which it s based. The Hybrid s 35kW electric motor means total power for system is up to 340hp yet carbon dioxide emissions have been cut by 26 percent to 169g/km in Europe. That compares well against this Range Rover s chief rival, the Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid. which emits 193g/km of carbon dioxide but develops a slightly meatier 380hp.

For Range Rover the figure that matters is that emissions figure of 169g/km – the company readily admits the car and the considerable RD involved in the project is in anticipation of fast-approaching EU emissions regulations rather than any philanthropic goals. The advantage for drivers, on the other hand, is the car s 516lb ft of torque from 1,500-3,000rpm. Torque is what counts for cars of this size, translating into responsiveness, or thrust, and the Hybrid has comfortably more of it than any other car in the Range Rover lineup, with the electric motor providing an extra 125lb ft.

Much fuss has been made of the Range Rover Hybrid s estimated pure electric driving range of less than a mile, but Land Rover says critics are missing the point. The in-house software that blends power from the electric motor and diesel engine is intelligent enough to make different decisions in different scenarios, the result being that if throttle load is light enough and speed low enough, then yes, the car will travel along in electric mode, but Land Rover insists this isn t a major selling point. The fuel saving abilities of the hybrid system, which returns a combined 44.1mpg (the next most frugal Range Rover is the 37.7mpg TDV6), lie elsewhere.

One of the myths about [full] hybrids is that they can drive as EVs, that electric vehicle mode is where you save the fuel,” says Land Rover s hybrid strategy manager Paul Bostock. “In reality the primary method of fuel saving is through regenerative braking, so it s actually scavenging that energy you would otherwise lose in braking as waste heat, generating electricity during those periods, storing it in the battery and then actually assisting the engine with the electric motor.”

Bostock, who recently returned from the Hybrid s suitably epic 9,500-mile Silk Road sign-off trek to Mumbai (during which time the car s electric motor came in handy at an oxygen-depleted 5,500m above sea-level), added that although the electric motor mainly helps at speeds below 50mph, it is capable of lending the engine a hand at any speed. Nevertheless, he expects the car s EPA-rating in the US to be marginally higher for City than Highway.

Driving the Range Rover Hybrid

Bury the throttle and the Range Rover Hybrid will sprint to 60mph in a truly surprising 6.9 seconds, less than half a second behind its arch-rival from Stuttgart. Top speed, however, is only 135mph, which will make perfect sense if you ve seen the frontal area of the fourth-generation Range Rover in the metal.

Range Rover says the Hybrid s performance is more akin to the 339hp 4.4-litre TDV8 model than the TDV6 and they re right. On-road performance is hardly the raison d être for a Range Rover, but in Sport mode the Hybrid goes fast, accelerating quickly and with immediacy, stops well, and hangs on in corners like the proverbial bastard. That s more to do with four-wheel drive system and enormous tyres than a well-honed suspension setup, however.

On the subject of suspension setup, the Range Rover Hybrid builds on the stratospheric levels of refinement enjoyed by owners of its conventionally powered siblings. Fast or slow, in bone-dry heat or torrential rain, along spindly country lanes or firing down the outside lane of a motorway, it is such a pleasure to drive, or even to just sit within, these cars. While the electric motor in this one makes acceleration smoother and allows for some electric-only driving, the car s battery is also water-cooled to reduce noise further (and, on a more practical note, because air-cooled systems require an opening that water might disastrously enter during wading).

Take your foot off the throttle and the revs drop to zero as the engine is cut off while the car coasts.

Like all full hybrids the Range Rover has a number of driving modes, although perhaps the best practice would be to ignore them. That way the car s computer – known as the Vehicle Supervisory Control – makes all the important decisions pertaining to economy and power. This is a good thing because the driver gets the optimum fuel economy/power balance for the majority of the time but performance the second he or she calls for it.

Land Rover HYBRID

There are, however, three further selectable modes.

The EV button on the transmission tunnel facilitates stealth driving, with the car slipping into electric mode whenever possible. This generally happens at low speeds and even when cornering the car will sometimes quickly indulge in some zero emissions driving before more power is called for on the exit. It s keen.

Two further modes concern performance, with Sport mode delivering maximum power at the expense of fuel economy (although the car can still use EV mode) and a more aggressive mode triggered by using the steering column-mounted paddles. In this ultimate mode the engine never stops running.

One facet of Land Rover s hybrid drivetrain that may be the best we ve ever tested is the grace with which it slips between using the electric motor and the diesel engine. Silky isn t the word, and in fact, the change is usually only detectable aurally. This will appeal to Range Rover s target clientele because they will not have the hassle, if you can call it that, of a hybrid drivetrain that confuses itself with jerky and seemingly random transitions. Likewise, the car s eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox is flawless, operating much like a dual-clutch transmission.

Inside, the chief difference between the Hybrid and other Range Rovers is the digital readout, where you get a power-meter instead of a rev-counter. There s also a dial to show when the car is recuperating energy through its regenerative brakes (something that happens surprisingly quickly) and a gauge to show how much energy currently remains in the battery.

At what cost?


The Range Rover Hybrid is only available in top-spec Autobiography trim, which is superb. You get chrome inserts galore and an endless choice of metallic paint (this one is in Aleutian Silver) and interior leather options (again, this one has Navy and Cirrus leather with Shadow Walnut veneer). The full size panoramic roof is also rather nice and all-in-all the car is how a Range Rover should be.

You do, however, have to pay a top-spec price for all of this: £98,415.

That s roughly £10,000 more than the 3.0-litre TDV6 in Autobiography trim, which isn t such a premium when you consider the unique skill-set of the Hybrid. Range Rover s refusal to make lower-spec Vogue and Vogue SE models available will undoubtedly upset interested buyers who have essentially been priced out of ownership (the Range Rover Sport Hybrid is priced at a more modest £81,550).

On first impressions all we can do is highly recommend the Range Rover Hybrid, it s breadth of ability is genuinely staggering. That said, we are not the ones who will be paying for one.

Range Rover Hybrid: First Drive in Land Rover s super-intelligent luxury express Richard Lane 2013-12-05 4.4 Lashings of luxury, unrivalled off-road ability and first-class on-road manners stand the Range Rover Hybrid in good stead. And that’s before you consider its seamlessly smooth hybrid drivetrain offering decent improvements in fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions. Objectively assessed it’s hard to fault.

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