WHAT has the world's most capable and desirable SUV and the humble Toyota Prius got in common?
On the face of it very little, however, like the little Toyota so beloved of cab drivers, the Range Rover is now available with a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid powertrain.
But, as the Range Rover weighs in at over two tonnes, its electric motor is paired with Jaguar Land Rover's latest 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol engine matched to a super-smooth eight-speed automatic transmission. This produces an outstanding 399bhp - with a stonking 640Nm of torque on tap - more than Land Rover's supercharged 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine produces.
Fuel economy is officially 91.1mpg but as with most hybrids that's pure fantasy. I achieved a more realistic 26.2mpg. CO2 emissions are impressive at 82g/km.
Land Rover significantly updated the latest model for 2018 with a new interior - impossibly even more luxurious than before - extra safety and infotainment technology and the option of this plug-in hybrid. It is available in Vogue, Vogue SE and Autobiography trim.
The petrol-electric Range Rover is little different to drive from a standard diesel or petrol version. The most noticeable change is the lack of any engine noise when you press the engine starter button.
Slip the eight-speed gearbox into Drive and the Range Rover hybrid pulls away using just the power from the electric motor - the only sound being the crunch of gravel under the alloys. Then, within a few seconds, the four-cylinder petrol engine cuts in seamlessly and only a little less more quietly.
The system will function according to the driving conditions. Most of the time, the electric motor works with petrol, so running silent is not something that happens often unless you hit the EV mode button - on which you get an official 31 miles. On the road, the hybrid system acts like most others including the aforementioned Prius.
They work best gathering braking energy when not driving on motorways and dual carriageways. They harvest battery power more efficiently when gliding up to traffic lights, roundabouts and junctions, or in rural areas on the overrun going down hills and so on.
With the engine and electric motor working in tandem, the immediate availability of torque is most noticeable and welcome under strong acceleration. Other than that, the hybrid power doesn't really affect performance at all.
And there's the usual ‘waftability 'as the air suspension smooths out the lumps and bumps in the road. It's a wonderful place to sit back, relax and let the Range Rover take the strain as you eat up the miles in sumptuous limousine style comfort. It shows some pretty nifty handling to but even at speed, there's only the faintest hum from the engine to disturb your peace.
Passengers get an extremely good deal, too. Even the tallest can stretch out most of the way should they feel the need. For practicality, there's the huge, 802-litre boot and the Range Rover 's signature split-level tailgate.
Then of course, there's Range Rover's full range of legendary off-road capability which remains entirely unaffected by the hybrid technology. In fact, Land Rover claims its latest hybrid powertrain takes that prowess even higher.
The electric motor has no creep speed and is able to deliver maximum torque from zero rpm, to all four wheels, giving greater control during low-speed off-road manoeuvres.
All models are equipped like a suite at the Ritz. Its size also means there is plenty of space to be comfortable in and while aged or smaller relatives might find the step up a little intimidating, you can, because of the Range Rover's air suspension, ask it to bow down to let them in.
The Automatic Access Height is immediately operational once the transmission is in park. When the ignition is switched off or the driver's seatbelt is removed, the vehicle automatically lowers by 35mm to aid entry and exit. Should any door handle be activated, the height decreases by an additional 15mm for even more convenience.
The elegance of the interior has been elevated by the addition of Touch Pro Duo, the most advanced infotainment system yet created by Jaguar Land Rover. This combines two high-definition 10-inch touchscreens - one on top of the other - but working in perfect harmony. These control virtually all the functions you could ever want or need and information can even be swiped from one screen to the other.
There's also more gimmicky items such as a gesture-controlled sunblind and ‘Air Cabin Ionisation' which uses nano-sized charged water particles to cleanse and purify the air for enhanced passenger wellbeing.