Land Rover hasn't exactly cultivated a reputation for environmental friendliness over its history. While its products have always been adept at forging through the wilderness, it could be argued that its engines, rather than its tires, have done the most damage to the natural world.

Still, Jaguar-Land Rover's commercial, technological and environmental progress has been relentless in recent years and from it comes the new Range Rover Hybrid--a car now experienced in prototype form by a handful of journalists.

The statistics look good: the Range Rover Hybrid (and its Range Rover Sport brother) are powered not by a hulking great V-8 gasoline or even diesel engine, but a smaller 3.0-liter V-6 twin-turbocharged diesel unit from the TDV6 model sold in Europe.

To this, and the eight-speed automatic gearbox, Land Rover couples a 35 kW (47 hp) electric motor and a modest lithium-ion battery pack (which doesn't intrude into the cabin, instead stealing some space from the car's gas tank).

37 mpg. Ish.

The result is an equally modest mile or so of electric range--but as with the Toyota Prius, this small electric contribution can have disproportionate results on city economy. The diesel engine does its part for highway driving, leading to (in European testing, with all the disclaimers that entails) combined economy of 37 mpg.

For comparison, the regular TDV6 is rated at 31 mpg in the same tests. Not only does that represent a useful increase, but the electric drive also offers performance benefits.

This combination of factors has seen positive comments in the early reviews.

Autocar remarks that the car feels particularly good in Land Rover's traditional environment, off-road. Electric torque and smooth delivery are particularly important in here, to the extent the writer wonders "why most 4x4s don't simply have it as a driving aid".

Over at Indian Autos Blog, a brief drive at the recent Frankfurt Auto Show is enough to confirm that the car meets the writer's tough criteria for hybrid SUVs--while MSN appreciates the car's normality, retaining all the favorable Range Rover qualities.


Sadly, none of these qualities will make their way to the U.S.

Despite original suggestions the diesel hybrid models could make their way Stateside, Land Rover confirmed to Car and Driver that neither Range Rover nor Sport hybrids will be sold in the U.S.

Hulking great gasoline V-8 it is, then...


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