| First Drive | Zurich, Switzerland | Range Rover Hybrid |
Model tested: Range Rover Hybrid
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel mated with electric motor
Transmission: four-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: five-door SUV
Rivals: BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, Porsche Cayenne
CO2 emissions: 169g/km
Combined economy: 44.1mpg
Top speed: 135mph
0-62mph: 6.9 seconds
Power: 340hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 700Nm at 1,500- to 3,000rpm
In the Metal:
It's a good looking thing the current Range Rover, plenty of historical Range Rover references wrapped in body that's big in both scale and presence. Nothing outside shouts about this new Hybrid's improved environmental credentials, the only badging being small hybrid lettering under the vertical slats on the Range Rover's flanks.
Inside the same is true, the only real hint there's anything other than a conventional diesel engine powering it is a tiny EV button secreted on the transmission tunnel. The TFT screen instruments have some additional information among them - including a battery charge indicator - but otherwise it's all standard Range Rover inside. Which, as the Hybrid only comes in Autobiography trim, means sumptuous luxury and more equipment than you could possibly ever need.
As with the discreet styling changes, the hybrid powertrain has a subtle influence on the driving experience. That EV button may promise electric-only motoring, but a combination of the Range Rover Hybrid's 2,394kg bulk and the relatively small lithium ion battery that feeds the 35kW motor (which is itself integrated into the Range Rover's eight-speed automatic transmission) means electric-only driving is an extremely brief, low-speed affair. Any hope you might be able to silently glide around the city for a few miles is shattered by a battery that flattens quicker than an iPhone's, meaning at best you might crawl a few car lengths in traffic before the diesel engine is needed.
Its involvement is smoothly integrated, there being no shunt in the driveline when it arrives, though there's an audible cough as the engine fires - particularly after it's been coasting to save energy. Combined, Land Rover claims performance on a par with the 4.4-litre SDV8 turbodiesel, yet for all the impressive numbers associated with it the Hybrid never feels quite as potent as its conventionally powered relations - even though its 6.9-second 0-62mph time sits comfortably between them.
All the hybrid additions do add around 120kg to the already bulky off-roader, and while Land Rover claims the steering and suspension systems ostensibly remain unchanged the steering did feel lighter and less direct in its response than we've experienced in other Range Rovers. The brakes, despite their ability to regenerate energy to recharge the battery, are free of any hesitation in response. That it feels utterly conventional is unquestionably a strength, but the hybrid powertrain feels more like a development of a stop-start system rather than a genuine rival for the best hybrid drive systems on offer from Land Rover's rivals.
What you get for your Money:
Land Rover perhaps understands the Hybrid's limited appeal, offering it with only the very highest Autobiography specification, which means that, before you tick a single option box you're just over £1,500 shy of £100,000. Sure, the specification list is lengthy, but the 3.0 TDV6 Autobiography costs £11,000 less and that buys you a lot of fuel and any additional taxes. Likewise, the SDV8 Autobiography costs £4,000 or so less.
It's a Hybrid, so we've got to talk numbers. The combined economy figure is 44.1mpg, while CO2 emissions are 169g/km. That compares with 37.7mpg and 196g/km for the TDV6 and 32.5mpg and 229g/km for the TDV8. Reality will see smaller numbers associated with all, but those CO2 figures dictate road (and company car) tax, the Hybrid costing £200 annually to tax, compared with £260 for the V6 and £475 for the V8.
Feeling more mild hybrid drive than the very latest full hybrid models from Land Rover's rivals, the Range Rover might be the first to combine diesel and electricity in the luxury SUV market, but its impact isn't perhaps as big as we might have hoped. Indeed, with the already impressive and cheaper diesels available to Europeans, Land Rover's decision to not target the USA and China with a petrol-electric hybrid seems like a missed opportunity.