Iconic is an over-used term, but it definitely applies here. And that means that the introduction of a plug-in hybrid drivetrain to the Range Rover is an important moment both for the brand but also for the plug-in hybrid market as a whole.
They say that first impressions count and the Range Rover starts off on the right foot. The usual mix of executive saloon opulence and go anywhere SUV ability still applies. We tried both by ploughing the motorway network before driving up a mountain and we can confirm that this is very much a Range Rover.
The secret behind that mesmerising mix of abilities is a 13 kWh battery under the boot floor which powers a slim-line electric motor located within the 8-speed automatic gearbox, which can work on its own or in conjunction with a high output 2-litre petrol engine. The system allows up to 31 miles of pure electric running (in theory) and a combined range of over 450 miles thanks to a 90 litre petrol tank. Land Rover has included a 7 kW on board charger which is more powerful than most PHEV systems.
Of course, what we and you really want to know is how the system performs in the real world. Let’s start with the pure electric range; we found that 16 – 21 miles was more realistic, which is not surprising given the kerb weight. Performance is great in EV mode including a motorway-friendly maximum speed, and the already very high levels of refinement notch up another level.
As ever we also tested the system in hybrid mode over a long route. Starting with a full battery, at the end of 122 miles with a full load of people and kit on board it recorded a very respectable 37.1 mpg, on the return journey starting with an empty battery it managed 30 mpg. Again given the weight, performance and relatively small petrol engine, these are very good results. Land Rover suggests that 26 mpg is the best you will see over the full 450 mile range which our results suggest is achievable.
As ever there are several drive options including EV, hybrid, and Save (which maintains battery charge) but the Ranger Rover has an extra trick up its sleeve in the form of Predictive Energy Optimisation (PDO) which uses planned Sat Nav routes to optimise the hybrid usage. We found it very effective and seamless.
Speaking of the 2-litre petrol engine, we were concerned that on its own it could struggle to provide enough go, but in reality we had no concerns. Initial getaway does feel very slightly dulled but once rolling the Range Rover is plenty fast enough and doesn’t feel strained.
Across a week of mixed use we averaged 42.2 mpg which demonstrates that if you can plug in regularly the system will deliver good fuel consumption. Of course if you don’t plan to plug in or if all your journeys are long range you will be looking at nearer 26 mpg, so as we always say, PHEV systems only make sense if they fit your journey patterns.
The PHEV system adds refinement, performance, a useful EV range and if used properly could slash fuel bills. On the negative side? Answers on a postcard. We couldn’t find any area where the system detracts, including full off-road ability, wading heights, and towing ability – although it’s not the most affordable vehicle. Is the PHEV Range Rover the best 4×4 by far? Quite possibly.
Estimated real world range: 16 – 21 miles (electric)
Official range: 31 miles (electric) at least 450 miles (combined with petrol)
Official electricity consumption: 210 Wh/km
Battery pack: 13.1 kWh (gross) lithium ion; 8 year / 100,000 mile warranty >70% SoC
Recharge time: 240 v 7 hours 30 mins; 7 kW charge 2 hours 45 mins
Please note that CO2 emissions quoted for electric cars are not directly comparable to diesel and petrol cars. This is because CO2 emissions quoted are calculated by Green Car Guide and include the emissions created at the power station turning fuel (e.g. gas etc) into electricity and in transmitting and distributing the electricity to an end user. They do not include the actual production of the fuel (e.g. gas extraction and refinery emissions). Petrol and diesel emissions are supplied by car manufacturers and are based solely on the fuel burnt in the engine (tailpipe emissions) and do not include the production of the fuel or distribution to a fuel station. In practice this means that electric car emissions are over-estimated relative to petrol and diesel. For instance if an electric car, a petrol car, and a diesel car are all reported to emit 100 g/km CO2, the electric car actually has lower emissions.