With V6 diesel and electric motor at full tilt, the Range Rover Hybrid can sprint from 0-62mph in 6.9sec and on to a top speed of 135mph. Brisk enough – and it feels it, especially with the eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox seamlessly shifting through the gears.
In default hybrid mode the electric motor operates to boost power and torque as required. Additionally, there are three selectable drive modes: EV, Auto Stop/Start Off and Sport. EV, as the name suggests, allows for a short period of electric-only driving when possible. Although its range is limited, it's perhaps most useful for low speed or off-road work, when the instant torque comes in handy.
When it’s out of juice in electric drive mode, the diesel engine automatically – and seamlessly – fires up. In EV mode the Range Rover's throttle response is also softened in order to reduce abrupt demands and save power. The 'Auto Stop/Start Off' mode forces the engine to run continuously, recharging the battery as quickly as possible should the need arise for more pure-electric driving.
Sport mode, meanwhile, optimises all powertrain settings for immediate throttle response and higher revs. Land Rover says this delivers SDV8-style performance.
Beyond the powertrain this is all Range Rover, in the best possible sense. On the road it feels like the conventional V6, but it moves off the line with much more conviction. Land Rover claims V8-like performance for the Hybrid, and it's not unjustified in saying so. There's plenty of punch and it's certainly capable of delivering on the claimed performance figures.
The system hasn't compromised the Range Rover's refinement either. When coasting, the V6 engine cuts to save fuel, while restarts are all but imperceptible. The electric motor fills in gaps in the V6's torque output as well, smoothing the power delivery and improving consistency above that of the conventional models.
Unlike some other hybrids, there's no perceptible difference in braking feel, despite the transition from hybrid to friction braking. The Hybrid's full electric power steering system is the same as found on the standard Range Rover, so the driving experience otherwise remains unchanged.
Off-road the driving techniques and experience are near enough identical to the V6 or V8 model, with first-class traction, clearance and climbing capabilities, and the hybrid's high-voltage parts can be immersed in water without mishap – its wading depth is rated at 90cm, the same as the diesel.
One major benefit of the addition of the electric motor, however, is that it supplements the engine's torque output at low speeds. Off-road this becomes particularly noticeable, delivering a much more natural and precise feel – to the extent that I wonder why most 4x4s don't simply have it as a driving aid.
The EV function doesn't work with the low-range mode or with the suspension in maximum elevation, mind, but it can contribute an additional 75lb ft at low speeds. This makes delicate approaches to big obstacles very easy.
Despite the contribution of the additional hybrid components, the weight increase is relatively minimal and any real differences as a result are negligible at best. Most of the extra components are fitted under the floor, on the right-hand side.