Yes, a decade after hybrids first started appearing on our roads, venerated SUV maker Land Rover are finally ready to put their first hybrid model into production -- and, naturally, they chose their halo product, the Range Rover, to debut it.
Following a European trend, the hybrid system differs to the type typically offered in the States. Rather than mate an electric motor to a gas engine, Land Rover have instead chosen a diesel engine as a suitable partner. With diesel the fuel of choice for large SUVs in Europe, it's a no-brainer that they'd choose the more powerful, more efficient oil-burner for their hybrid. What it does, though, is create a rather awkward situation for any Americans looking forward to a Range Rover that sips a little less fuel -- Land Rover have no plans to offer the Range Rover or Range Rover Sport hybrid models in the US. Whether it's due to diesel's relative obscurity in market share, or just out of spite, Land Rover aren't saying.
However, because we're cruel, here's what you can expect to not purchase when the Range Rover hybrid goes on sale overseas. For starters, the diesel engine is Land Rover's trusty 3.0 litre V6 turbo, which is coupled to an 8-speed auto box and has 308 hp and 319 lb-ft of torque powering all 4 wheels. Coupled with the 47 hp and 125 lb-ft electric motor, the Range Rover -- and arriving later, the Range Rover Sport -- hybrid will produce 355 hp and a class-leading 516 lb-ft of torque, which Land Rover claim is good enough to propel the Range Rover from 0-62 mph in 6.9 seconds, with the Sport taking just 6.7 seconds. On a combined cycle, the hybrid system can achieve 37 mpg, and the electric motor can power the car alone up to 30 mph for a distance of... eh... 1 mile. So, yeah, it's a hybrid in the loosest of terms, but 37 mpg in a car the size of a Range Rover isn't something to turn your nose up at.
All of the usual Range Rover charateristics are retained, including the imperious driving position, unmatched all-terrain performance, luxury car refinement, and the satisfaction of knowing that you're just better than other people for owning one. That last one comes free with every purchase, which is nice.
Pre-orders for the Range Rover and Sport hybrids start this month, just not in the US, unfortunately. Sigh.