First Drive: Range Rover Range_e Prototype
The Evoque has paved the way for the new generation – a smaller car made with more widespread use of lightweight materials and, like the Freelander, a front wheel drive option. And, next year, we’re due an all-new Range Rover which will feature not only Evoque-style construction but the brand’s first diesel-electric hybrid powertrain.
For now, its closest relation is the 89g/km Range_e, a fleet of five prototypes based on the TDV6 Range Rover Sport that are being used to trial the technology before it goes into full production.
There are a few key differences. This is a plug-in hybrid, which offers a 20-mile electric range from a four-hour charging cycle – the production model won’t have this, but will cover a short distance on electricity. And there are no plans for a hybrid Sport, the technology will debut with the all-new Range Rover due to be revealed later this year.
At 335bhp, the combined power of diesel engine and electric motor means the Range_e isn’t short on performance. But the hybrid system does add 200kg to the Sport’s kerb weight, most noticeable under braking and a figure Land Rover is keen to reduce before it goes into production. Featuring the same transmission as the conventionally-powered car, it’ll also match the Sport’s off-road ability.
Inside, the familiar Sport dials have gained a battery and power meter under the rev counter, which shows charge levels and energy usage and makes it simple to keep the car in electric mode. Production versions will also come better appointed than the cloth interior in the prototype.
Going on recent products from Jaguar Land Rover, Tata ownership is putting investment in the right places to develop new models properly. So while we had no chance to test its off-road credentials, or see the drivetrain in the car it’s destined for, the production hybrid Range Rover should be a very well-rounded proposition.
Range_e shows huge promise, even in pre-production form. Once it has shed a little of its extra weight it should offer a potent combination of power, off-road ability and economy which, with Range Rover’s on-road presence, will make it one to watch in its segment.
Type: Diesel-electric plug-in hybrid
Price: N/A (prototype)
Electric range: 20 miles
CO2 emissions (tailpipe): 89g/km
Charging port: J1772