Ian Lamming is charged by the new Range Rover Sport PHEV.
IT’S a shock, but a welcome one. So used to being powered by a diesel, it is strange to whisper across the supermarket car park on electric motor; but this is the way of the world and why not?
Range Rover Sport is the latest SUV to go hybrid and, in this instance, a 2.0 litre petrol engine harnesses a plug-in battery/electric motor which then work together to great effect.
It is the utter smoothness that hits you the most as the big Range Rover glides in silence, startling young and old in the process – you just don’t hear it coming. Great care has to be taken passing horses down country lanes as the first they know of you coming is something big creeping into their peripheral vision. Whoa!
But in reality the country loves and welcomes PHEV as the emissions are zero while running on EV and only 69g/km when the motor kicks in, which isn’t that much worse than fresh air. No diesel whiff, no asthma-inducing particulates and the world breathes easy.
It’s also a pleasure on the senses. Sport wafts like no other, indulging driver and passengers with a cocoon of serenity.
Ranger Rover looks and feels solid; it’s a big old boy with presence aplenty and enough might to impose its will on other road users – well nearly. The lady taxi driver who sped from a size road into its path was put off little by its herculean proportions, she just kept coming.
But she heard its formidable horn and was thankful, I’m sure, of its surprising agility and power as it nipped around her in the blink of an eye. There was no chance of arresting Range Rover’s bulk but all was well thanks to its unexpected responsiveness.
Speaking of its sprightly nature, the motors are equally impressive. A glance and a nod at the spec sheet reveals a modest-on-paper 2.0 engine. Surely, that can’t be enough to shift such bulk? But the combustion engine works in harmony with the instantly torquey electric motor to hurl 404PS at the road through an eight-speed auto and four wheel drive.
Benchmark 0-60mph in 6.3 seconds? How? How? Trip computer reading 32mpg? How? How? I’ve no idea; ask Ranger Rover. There is a plug-in (the socket is behind the grille) which attaches to the mains for an overnight charge and it will travel 26 miles or so on full electric. But it goes much longer when it switches in and out leaving the petrol to pick up the slack. Clever that and a worthy successor to out-going diesels.
Peerless off road, the Sport PHEV is better still as the electric motor feeds the power in so smoothly that traction is unlikely to be broken. Wading and all-wheel-drive trickery remains as stunning as ever.
Opulence is up there too. Few interiors can match the desirability of a Range Rover, with its traditional leather and quality fittings, top specification and leading touchscreen technology. It has everything, too much to mention, in fact, but no-one will be disappointed.
Electric is the future but it will take the world some time to catch up and provide the necessary infrastructure to dump carbon forever.
In the meantime, PHEV is doing a splendid job filling it. It provides a better, cleaner, more efficient means of propulsion which is much more than just a passing nod to protecting the environment.
It is a shock that people really are starting to care about the environment, for them and the sake of future generations, and this sea-change is very welcome indeed.
Range Rover Sport PHEV
Engine: 2.0 petrol and plus in electric
Power: 404 PS
0-60mph: 6.3 secs
Top speed: 137mph
Combined MPG: 74.3
Transmission: Eight speed automatic
CO2 g/km: 69