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Frankfurt show: Range Rover hybrids for Australia

Range extender: The hybrid versions of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport have combined-cycle fuel consumption of 6.4L/100km.

Range Rover confirms diesel-electric hybrid models to launch in Australia next year

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Land Rover logo23 Aug 2013

LAND Rover has confirmed diesel-electric hybrid versions of its Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models will launch in Australia next year, following their debut at the Frankfurt motor show next month.

Set to arrive in local showrooms in the second quarter, Land Rover claims the two powerful, lean-sipping models will be the first diesel hybrid SUVs available anywhere in the world.

Mercedes-Benz recently became the first brand in Australia to offer a diesel-electric hybrid vehicle, based on the E-Class sedan, but there is no sign yet of an SUV such as the M-Class to follow from the German luxury car manufacturer.

Another contender, the Volkswagen CrossBlue, is still in concept form and unlikely to debut as a production-ready model for some time.

Both the Range Rover and Rangie Sport models are powered by the British brand’s familiar high-output 215kW/600Nm 3.0-litre SDV6 turbo-diesel engine, which in this case combines with a 35kW/170Nm electric motor to produce 250kW of power and 700Nm of torque between 1500 and 3000rpm.

In terms of raw output, this puts the powertrain on a par with the Range Rover’ s regular 250kW/700Nm 4.4-litre diesel V8.

Both hybrid SUVs are driven through all four wheels via the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission from standard diesel models. Land Rover says the entire hybrid system, including the lithium-ion battery pack and electric motor, weighs less than 120kg.

The hybrid system includes three driving modes, including an ‘EV’ mode that allows the vehicle to travel for 1.6km on battery power alone at speeds of up to 48km/h, before the diesel engine kicks in.

The motor can also store kinetic energy through regenerative braking and charge the battery as the vehicle is slowing.

Land Rover is claiming V8-like performance from its hybrid-powered models, with a 6.9-second 0-100km/h sprint time for the Range Rover – 6.7 seconds in the Sport – while fuel consumption is down to 6.4 litres per 100km on the combined cycle for both models.

This figure betters the most frugal Range Rover currently available – the regular 3.0-litre diesel TDV6 – with fuel economy of 7.5L/100km, while the same unit in the upcoming Sport can manage 7.3L/100km.

The hybrids cannot, however, quite match the smaller petrol-electric Lexus RX450h hybrid, which can return 6.3L/100km.

Land Rover claims the hybrids reduce CO2 emissions by 26 per cent, down as low as 168g/km.

The Range Rover’s liquid-cooled battery pack does not impact luggage or cabin space in either body styles as it is housed beneath the floor in a “protective boron-steel cradle”.

Land Rover Australia public affairs manager James Scrimshaw said that although the Indian-owned British car-maker currently has no firm plans to roll-out hybrid models to its entire range, it could be considered down the track.

“We are engineering that way and it is technology we have been working on for a long time so you would like to think if it’s something that deems popular and if that’s what the marketplace wants, then it’s something we would look at in the future,” he said.

Mr Scrimshaw said Land Rover was dipping its toe in the water with the Range Rover hybrid models, highlighting competitors such as Porsche that already offer the fuel-saving technology.

As GoAuto has reported, the upgraded regular-engined Range Rover Sport series arrives in Australia in the fourth quarter of this year and for the first time will offer the availability of a third row.

The regular Range Rover will remain a five-seat-only proposition.

The hybrid versions of both body styles due in the first half of 2014 will be available in one specification for the Range Rover and two for the Range Rover Sport, although pricing and further details will be confirmed closer to launch.

Expect the hybrid variants to carry a premium over the regular diesel V6 models.

The arrival of the new Range Rover in February this year has boosted sales for the British SUV specialist in Australia, with 172 sales from January to July, a 61 per cent increase over the same period last year.

Range Rover Sport sales have taken a slight dip over the same period, with 817 units shifted, an eight per cent drop on last year, but this is unsurprising given the all-new Sport arrives later this year.

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Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.