The three Range Rover Hybrid prototypes participating in the Silk Trail expedition have now passed through seven countries in Europe in little more than a week. Since starting the 10,000-mile (16,000 km) adventure from Land Rover’s home in Solihull, UK on the afternoon of Thursday 22 August, the convoy has progressed south through the UK, east through France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, and south-east through Poland and the Ukraine.
This expedition will visit 12 countries and takes in some of the world’s most challenging roads, passes and trails, including part of the ancient, 4,000 mile Silk Road connecting Asia with the Mediterranean. These are the first hybrids to ever attempt this challenging route.
This first section was always expected to be the most straightforward part of an otherwise ambitious journey, with the toughest challenges still ahead – but even so, the route has already presented the vehicles with the stresses of urban congestion, the hazards of some poorly maintained former Eastern Bloc roads and the first of many official border-crossings.
In London, Brussels, Dusseldorf, and Berlin, the Range Rover Hybrids made short work of dense rush-hour traffic, their 35kW (47 bhp) electric motors automatically taking over from the V6 diesel engine at urban speeds to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. Combined with command driving position, smooth ride and luxury cosseted cabin, progress in the Range Rover is effortless.
In the historic city centres of Krakow and Lemberg in Poland, where traffic runs nose-to-tail over ancient roads made bumpy by cobbles and tramlines, the Range Rover also impressed occupants with the suppleness of its ride. Even with the vehicles fully laden – load areas, rear seats and roof-racks piled high with heavy expedition gear – the air-suspension gracefully absorbed the bumps.
With most of the urban journey over for now, the expedition is now poised to enter Russia, where it will spend the next six days before crossing the border into Kazakhstan.
View more photos of the SILK TRAIL EXPEDITION.