You'll have probably noticed that Jaguar Land Rover has made an impressively good job of launching an all-electric model before most of its direct rivals, yet has been woefully tardy in getting its head round the concept of a fully functioning plug-in hybrid. Well, that changes now: the new P300e - which debuts in the Land Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport, but is destined to end up pretty much everywhere - is a proper, designed-from-scratch-for-the-job petrol-electric hybrid. Not as technically ambitious as the I-Pace, perhaps - but something plenty of people have a proven interest in buying right now. And that's decidedly handy in the volume car-selling business.
Even on paper it's easily the most compelling hybrid powertrain JLR has come up with, not least because the headline figures look vaguely convincing. As the name sort of suggests, you get a combined 309hp and 398lb ft of torque - which is really the minimum you need to properly spirit a JLR platform around the place - and around 40 miles of battery range, which, as automotive industry likes to remind us, is the sort of distance that most of us do in a daily commute. Additionally, the method of getting to those numbers feels decade-appropriate: the P300e combines an electrified rear axle with a new 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine. That's right - the long-promised smallest Ingenium unit, driving the front wheels through a new eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Land Rover has packaged all this newness in very familiar surroundings. The Evoque and Discovery Sport are perfect because a) the Premium Transverse Architecture beneath them was built with battery packaging in mind, and it leaves interior space largely untouched (though you can't have a P300e seven-seat Disco) and b) they are the brand's biggest global sellers. Thanks to the low-mounted 15kW lithium battery, the manufacturer claims 201.8mpg and 175.5mpg for the Evoque and Discovery Sport, respectively, alongside 32g/km and 36g/km CO2 emissions.
Even accounting for the usual hybrid nonsense, it's clear that those figures represent a sizeableadvantage over what is possible with JLR's combustion engines. And because the P300e PHEV battery maintains a proper hold on much more juice (when compared to the firm's mild-hybrid solution) it can more consistently enhance power and efficiency than an MHEV. With a belt-integrated starter generator to seamlessly kill and restart the engine, kinetic energy recovery hardware and an electric top speed of 84mph, the battery-powered rear axle's assistance can be prolonged and continuous, even on long journeys.
Peak output is achieved by combining the 200hp and 207lb ft of torque of the turbocharged 1.5-litre motor with the 109hp and 192lb ft of the e-axle, delivering all-wheel drive and a 0-62mph times of around 6.5 seconds for both models. The slightly lighter Evoque P300e (comparatively speaking at 2,082kg versus 2,093kg for the Disco Sport) can eke out 41 miles without waking the petrol motor, while the Disco Sport runs out of battery puff at 38 miles - not far off double what most other PHEV SUVs offer at the moment. And before you ask, rapid charging with a 50-100kW plug will get you 80 per cent capacity in just 30 mins in both cars (both convert the input to a max of 32kW).
A domestic 7kW wallbox will, inevitably, take longer, but not much - Land Rover claims 80 per cent battery charge can be reached in one hour 24 minutes, while a full charge requires six hours and 42 mins, which for most of us is easily slotted into an overnight schedule. And the system is smart enough to pre-condition the batteries for maximum efficiency before you set off, with users able to remotely change settings on JLR's InControl Remote phone app. The P300e tech can even pre-set cabin temps on the climate control before you set off, so the plug power - rather than battery juice - is used.
That JLR's petrol engine looks similarly impressive speaks volumes for the technical leap made here. The three-pot, which is a cylinder and 37kg short of the modular four-pot that ranks above it, gets JLR's latest advancements including a manifold that's integrated into the aluminium cylinder head, while a water-cooled charge air cooler ensures inbound gases remain dense, boosting efficiency and throttle response. The new automatic transmission is said to be 5kg lighter and smoother shifting than the former nine-speed. And it all - even the new battery pack - remains protected so off-roading abilities are claimed to be unaffected. Land Rover has added a 6mm-thick steel undertray to be doubly sure.
Pack that all into the proven popularity of Land Rover's PTA-based SUVs and, on paper at least, things do appear promising. Neither model is what you'd call cheap - the Evoque starts at £43,850, the Disco Sport, £45,370 - but neither model has a reputation for affordability anyway. Land Rover will be betting that the claimed reduction in running costs (which ought to be significant for anyone indulging mostly in the school run) prove enticing to the established fan club. If the P300e turns out to be as convincing on the road as it appears on paper, expect the timely mix of old and new to fly from the shelves.
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