BBC Autos

Range Rovers that sip, rather than slurp

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Land Rovers are rightly lauded for their ability to claw their way past almost any obstacle – except for maybe a gas pump.

That changes with the introduction at the Frankfurt motor show of hybrid-electric versions of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. The company has made huge strides in the area of efficiency, with new powertrains and lightweight aluminium construction, but to meet looming fuel economy targets requires even more aggressive tactics, which is why it is pursuing hybrid drive so doggedly now.

The goal of the new hybrid-electric powertrain, consisting of a 3-litre turbodiesel V6 engine and a 35kW electric motor, is to match the performance of the company’s 4.4-litre V8 diesel engine, but with improved efficiency. Because electric motors excel at the low engine speeds when diesels can be coarse – and because they eliminate idling entirely – a diesel hybrid diesel is more refined.

Total power for the combined internal-combustion engine and electric motor is an impressive 340 horsepower and a Bentley-like 516lb-ft. of torque. The hybrid can travel as far as a mile on electric power at speeds up to 30mph before switching to the diesel, which is perfect for creeping silently up to, and away from, the valet on Rodeo Drive, among other common Range Rover duties.

Land Rover says that the hybrid accelerates to 62mph in under  seven seconds, reaching a top speed of 135mph for the Range Rover and 140mph for the Sport. Unlike many hybrids, seating and storage are uncompromised in either vehicle.

“The Range Rover Hybrid is the world’s most capable hybrid,” crowed John Edwards, Land Rover Global Brand Director. European deliveries commence in 2014. Wary of the regulatory hurdles for diesel vehicles in the US, however, the brand has not yet committed to North American sales.