One of the most important events in the motoring calendar – the Frankfurt motor show – is underway. Amongst the radical concept cars and worthy hatchbacks, British marque Land Rover has been quietly making waves, unveiling a host of new technology soon to be seen in a showroom near you.
First up is the hybrid Range Rover. Sounds strange, doesn’t it, that a car long regarded as the embodiment of climate change and obnoxious road hogging has now gone all hair-shirt, claiming to have eco credentials.
In reality, the new diesel/electric motor combo only allows for emissions-free battery only progress for up to a mile. However, Land Rover insists the 35kW battery is more about increasing the 3.0-litre V6 engine's output rather than driving extended periods solely on electric power. It also offers a 26 per cent improvement in emissions and better fuel economy -169g/km and 44.1 mpg respectively.
"The battery acts as a booster for the engine, constantly helping it during the drive," said Peter Richings, Land Rover's director of hybrid technology.
Drivers can select all-electric power – but only for that one mile – and Land Rover expects owners to select this when wanting to make an elegant, silent arrival to a posh event.
More pertinently, performance has been subtly improved, with the big Rangie taking just 6.7 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standstill, and despite its enormous weight and bluff dimensions, it will go on to a top speed of 135mph.
Impressive as it is, the hybrid Range Rover is more of a grudging concession to the changing times in which we live rather than a full-on change of policy from the Gaydon based outfit. Land Rover itself admits this, and expects hybrid sales to make up a maximum of three percent of Range Rover sales when it reaches showrooms early next year.
Land Rover also brought along its 2014 model Evoque, complete with a brand new, nine speed gearbox. Yes, NINE. Though don’t worry about getting your gearstick in a muddle negotiating all those ratios – it’s offered solely in silky-smooth automatic guise.
The additional gears improve the car’s flexibility – offering responsive acceleration on demand, then barely idling in higher gears on a cruise. There are so many ratios to choose from, the Evoque will only start in first in boggy conditions – mimicking a low-range gearbox on bigger SUVs – opting for second gear in normal road use.
The new ’box will replace the six-speed automatics currently offered and if just one of the many additions being introduced to the car. Also fitted is ‘Active Driveline’ – a new on demand four-wheel drive system that uses a system of clutches to automatically send exactly the right amount of power to any of the four wheels.
As well as aiding traction in slippery conditions, Active Driveline has also been calibrated to provide greater stability in high-speed cornering.
To complement the under-the-skin changes, the Evoque’s aesthetic has been lifted by a number of subtle tweaks both inside and out. Order books are open now.
Prefer to buy used? You can browse our selection of Land Rover products here.
September 10, 2013