Hybrid Range Rovers tackle ‘Silk Trail’

Range Rover Hybrid prototypes

Feel guilty about owning a big Range Rover? Now you don’t have to.

Land Rover have released details of their first ever hybrid model of both the Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport. Range Rover promises not only better fuel economy but also substantially lower CO2 emissions. The new Hybrid models will be on the road in early 2014, when first deliveries start.

The two vehicles are all-aluminium models, based on Land Rover’s Premium Lightweight Architecture and share an identical power-train. Both the Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport Hybrids are powered by a 3.0L SDV6 engine coupled with a 35KW electric motor and an eight speed ZF automatic gearbox. The power output is on par with that of the bigger SDV8 engine.  Both models accelerate to 62 mph (100 km/h) in under seven seconds, with a top speed of 135 mph (218km/h), reducing CO2 emission by 26% down to  169 g/km from 196 g/km.  Fuel Economy is up with the Hybrid models averaging 44.1mpg on combined cycle up from the standard 37.7 mpg. The electric motor produces 170 NM of torque for added acceleration and allows you to trundle around town in EV mode. The motor also acts as a generator, harvesting kinetic energy through regenerative braking, charging the battery when the vehicle is slowing.  In driver-selectable EV mode the Range Rover Hybrid can travel at speeds of up to 30 mph (48km/h) for a range of up to 1.6km before the diesel engine seamlessly restarts.

To completely validate this vehicle as a true Range Rover, capable of handling all types of terrain, a convoy of seven hybrids embarked on the ‘Silk Trail 2013’ driving from Solihull, UK, the home of the Range Rover brand to the Tata Headquarters in Mumbai, India. A total of 16,000km. The Silk Trail expedition is divided into 10 stages and is scheduled to visit France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Nepal and India. This is the first time this route has ever been tackled by a hybrid vehicle.

silk trail

Only four punctures and a cracked windscreen hindered the vehicle’s progress in the first 20 days of their gruelling battle with the treacherous conditions including asphalt surfaces riddled with deep potholes and layered with small stones; mud tracks that have been dry and rutted or wet and slippery; and dusty desert trails sometimes hard as gravel and sometimes soft as sand. All seven vehicles will be crossing the Himalayas and entering India for their final stretch to Mumbai.



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The Mk7 Volkswagen Golf

The new Golf is here. We have seen it evolve for over 7 generations and here is the new Mk7 Golf. Cars have got lighter, more fuel-efficient, larger, more powerful and safer and this car is no different.

Volkswagen, means ‘people’s car’ or ‘car of the people’ and not many people know, but it started in the late 1930’s in Nazi Germany founded by Ferdinand Porsche himself, to take on the luxury car makers and produce a ‘people’s car’. Nowadays, it is one of the biggest if not the biggest car maker in the world.

The Golf has been in people’s hearts since it was introduced to the public in 1974, filling various car segments from family car to hot hatch. It has always been a car that wasn’t in your face, very inconspicuous and has always punched above its class when it came to quality in and out of the cabin. That is something that I love about this car. You need to be around it every day to discover its quirky design cues. Something I hope to do in the near future.

The Mk7, shares its architecture with the new Audi A3 which will be surely shared among the other lines such as Seat, Skoda’s, more VW’s and Audi’s. We are looking at a larger version of the modern-day Golf being 56mm longer 13mm wider than its predecessor yet Volkswagen has managed to shed 100kg from it. Obviously it will be released in a petrol and Diesel engine, the petrol being a 1.2l with 84bhp and 1.4l with 138bhp. These will both do over 55mpg and less than 115g/km of CO2 (claimed by VW). Now the diesel, which will do extremely well here in Malta, will have a 1.6l with 104bhp and a 2.0l unit with 148bhp. Both claim to do over 65mpg and less than 107g/km.  In the near future, we will be seeing a plug-in hybrid and GTI version.  Something the teccies will love is that, all cars will be fitted with a 5-inch touch screen which lets you slide through screens like an iPhone.

Can it be considered an icon? I definitely think so… even Volkswagen themselves have marketed it in such a way with the legendary television advert where cars sound like a Golf, look like a Golf but are not a Golf.