It may reduce your tax bill, but you lose out in other ways
Car manufacturers are fast learning the value of the word ‘hybrid’. People hear it, think of a Toyota Prius and automatically assume it confers an aura of unimpeachable environmental saintliness upon its owner.
Of course this is nonsense, as the first hybrid Land Rover will now demonstrate. The Range Rover Hybrid is a TDV6 with a three-litre diesel engine into whose gearbox a 47bhp electric motor is incorporated. Because this engine is the latest version from the Range Rover Sport, with 292bhp rather than the 255bhp motor in other V6 diesel Range Rovers, by the time the output of the electric motor is included (which is not a matter of simple addition because the electric and diesel engines are unable to produce peak power simultaneously), it produces a total output of 335bhp. Better still if you believe the numbers, it’ll return more than 44mpg while producing CO2 at a rate of less than 170g/km.
There are two points to be made here. First – not Land Rover’s fault, because it is how they are required to be calculated – the figures are rubbish. I drove the Hybrid on a circular route, deliberately caning it on the way there and stroking it on the way back: on the outbound leg the trip computer said 20.5mpg, on the return just 33mpg. Yes it will reduce your company car bill or the cost of your tax disc, but don’t expect this to be the world’s first frugal Range Rover because it just isn’t.
The second point is that whatever the Hybrid brings in terms of self-satisfaction to those fond of paying lip service toward our eco-system, it more than takes away from other areas perhaps more relevant to typical Range Rover buyers, none of whom would consider such a car if they had a single environmentally aware bone in their bodies.
This car’s real problem is that it costs almost £100,000, which is not only a huge amount of money but also far more than you’d need to buy the same car but with a 4.4-litre V8 diesel and no hybrid electrification in sight. The V8 diesel has almost exactly the same power and torque as the V6 hybrid, better performance because it’s lighter and incomparably superior manners. While you’re always aware of either the slightly rough edge of the V6 diesel motor, the V8 propels you forward at the twitch of a toe with such regal effortlessness you’d need a car with a Spirit of Ecstasy on its snout to fare substantially better.
My advice to those thinking of buying a Range Rover Hybrid is “don’t”. If you want to limit your impact on the world’s finite resources, buying a 2.4-tonne SUV is not the best way to do it. You won’t fool anyone and the way the system operates might annoy you. If you want to spend £100,000 on a Range Rover as I would absolutely love to, get the V8 diesel and give it a serious spec. It is not only the best Range Rover that has ever been made, it is one of the best cars of any kind that can currently be bought.
Engine: 3.0 litres, six cylinders, turbocharged, 47bhp electric motor
Power: 335bhp @ 4000rpm
Torque: 516lb ft @ 1500 rpm
Transmission: eight-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Top speed: 135mph
Economy: 44.1 mpg
CO2: 169 g/km