Land Rover’s Best-Selling Models Are Getting More Powerful and More Eco-Friendly

We call that a win/win.

The Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque may not be the most iconic vehicles to wear those badges, but they do have a lot going for them. As the entry-level members of the Land Rover family, they’re the least expensive way to put that distinctive blend of style, luxury and off-road capability in your driveway (assuming you don’t want to roll the dice on a used one), while their compact proportions make them ideal for urbanites and apartment-dwellers. In fact, it’s these sorts of traits that have made the compact duo the company’s best-selling models.

Now, they’re also fuel-efficient, to boot. At least, in the form of the new Evoque and Discovery Sport plug-in hybrids.

In spite of their tidy size, the existing Disco Sport and Evoque aren’t quite as easy on the gas as you’d think. (Blame those trademark blocky proportions and all the metal, rubber and plastic it takes to make a sturdy, luxurious off-road vehicle.) The new Evoque only gets 23 miles per gallon on the combined cycle, according to the EPA; the Discovery Sport is even worse, turning in just 21 mpg combined. To remedy that, Land Rover has whipped up a pair of PHEV versions that rip out the old powertrain in favor of something new.

Both Evoque and Disco Sport PHEVs — which are known as P300e models in LR parlance — combine a turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-three engine up front with an electric motor out back in the rear axle, with a 15-kWh battery slotted between them underneath the rear seats. Funny charged, that battery lets the Evoque travel up to 41 miles and the Disco Sport up to 38 on EV power alone, at speeds of up to 84 miles per hour. Using a fast charger, both of them can take their batteries from drained to an 80-percent state of charge in half an hour.

Of course, most Land Rover drivers will want to dally out more than 40 miles at a time every so often. In that case, the turbo three and EV motor can team up to provide the four-wheeled grip Landies are known for, as well as help them zip around faster, thanks to a combined output of 305 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque — significantly more than the 246 hp / 269 lb-ft the gas-powered versions make. Better yet, the largely-disliked nine-speed automatic found in those models has been replaced for an eight-speed one — presumably, the same transmission that works well across the rest of the Jaguar Land Rover lineup.

Land Rover’s press release makes no mention of when these models might make it to American shores, but given the advantages they bring to bear in both power and efficiency, we’d be shocked if they didn’t come Stateside soon enough.

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