Jaguar Land Rover has released details of what it is calling the first premium diesel SUV hybrid, using the proven three-litre SDV6 turbodiesel and a 35kW electric motor built into a ZF eight-speed auto transmission to create a Range Rover Hybrid and a Range Rover Sport Hybrid, each with performance comparable to the SDV8 diesel model but with lower fuel-consumption and emissions numbers than even the conventional V6 diesels.
And it's prepared to put its hybrids where it mouth is, committing three Range Rover Hybrids to an epic trip from Range Rover headquarters in Solihull, England to the home of parent company Tata in Mumbai, India.
The 16 000km Silk Trail expedition will visit 12 countries - France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China and India - starting on Thursday 22 August and driving over some of the world's most challenging roads, passes and trails, including part of the ancient, 6400km Silk Road connecting Asia with the Mediterranean, to finish in Mumbai on 15 October.
The new Range Rover Hybrid powertrain has three driver-selectable modes and adds less than 120kg - including the electric motor, inverter and lithium-ion battery pack - to the weight of the conventional V6 model.
The electric motor delivers 170Nm to boost acceleration, and drives the vehicle in EV Mode at up to 48km/h for up to 1.6km before the diesel automatically kicks in, while also acting as a generator to harvest kinetic energy and charge the battery on the overrun.
DESIGNED IN, NOT ADDED ON
Together, the diesel engine and electric motor deliver 250kW at 4000 revs and a stump-pulling 700Nm from 1500-3000rpm, taking either of the hybrid Rangies to 100km/h in less than seven seconds and on to a terminal velocity of 218km/h - at a combined average of 6.4 litres per 100km and 169g/km of CO2 emissions, 26 percent less than the conventional SDV6 versions.
What's perhaps more important is that the latest-generation Rangies were designed with this hybrid system in mind, so the liquid-cooled battery pack is mounted under the floor in a protective boron-steel cradle without stealing either cabin or luggage space - even the full-sized spare wheel is still there.
Orders for the two Range Rover hybrid models will open on 10 September, with first deliveries scheduled for early in 2014. The hybrids will not, unfortunately, be released in South Africa since their diesel engines are tuned to comply with EU5 emissions regulations, and won't survive on local fuel - not even the so-called 'clean diesel'.
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