Land Rover LRX Concept

It’s rare for a Land Rover to make an appearance in Green-Car-Guide,
however it’s also no secret that Land Rover has got various plans for
lower CO2 vehicles in the future, by utilising technology such as
hybrid powertrains and lightweight materials.

Therefore it’s interesting to see the appearance of the LRX concept.
Although Land Rover says that further details of the LRX’s powertrain
and sustainability technologies will be released at its world debut at
the Detroit Show in January, information about certain sustainable
elements of the vehicle has already been released. For instance the LRX
concept adopts intelligent power management systems and other
technologies first shown by Land Rover in the Land_e concept in 2006.

The
company says that as it prepares to celebrate its 60th anniversary
during 2008, the three-door LRX, with its more compact size, lighter
weight and sustainability focused technologies, “clearly addresses the
needs of a changing world”.

“The LRX
concept delivers the powerful message that we are as serious about
sustainability as we are confident about the continuing relevance and
desirability of our vehicles,” says Phil Popham, Land Rover’s managing
director. “The LRX is in every respect a Land Rover, but it’s a very
different Land Rover.

“LRX has
unmistakable Land Rover design and the breadth of capability that you’d
expect from our vehicles. But it carries those essentials into a
segment where the brand has never been before, and with a proposed
level of efficiency that would make it one of the cleanest vehicles in
its class. It is Land Rover’s way of affirming the brand’s responsible
approach to future product development. At this stage, LRX is purely a
concept, designed to help us develop our thinking as well as gauge
customer reaction – but this feels like a hugely exciting direction to
take.”

The LRX is described as a
cross-coupé. Though smaller than the Freelander 2, the LRX is conceived
as a premium car, designed to appeal to new customers in the luxury and
executive sector – those who want many of the benefits of a 4×4 and the
visual presence of a larger vehicle, but in a more compact package.

Land
Rover goes on to say that “its compact size is one of its greatest
assets, which will appeal to anyone who wants the versatile ability of
an agile 4×4 with the cachet of the Land Rover name. In addition, its
lower weight and the reduced aerodynamic drag resulting from the
smaller frontal area give significant gains in fuel efficiency and
reduced CO2 emissions.”

Land Rover
describes the positioning of the LRX as moving subtly from traditional
SUV to crossover, with its more car-like appearance and dynamics that
are sportier and on-road biased. But while Land Rover ams for the LRX
to excellent agility, handling and performance, it is also designed to
have the widest breadth of capability in the class. To help achieve
this, it has full-time four-wheel drive and Hill Descent Control, as
well as a special version of Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, to
optimise traction on difficult surfaces ranging from icy roads to wet
grass, gravel and snow. But to reflect the LRX’s more on-road bias,
Terrain Response also gains a new ‘Eco’ mode for lower emission urban
driving.

In the interior, the different
drivetrain modes are matched by changes in the cabin’s background
lighting colour – green in economy, red in sports and blue in standard
mode. The structures of the seats and instrument panel have been left
exposed – which reduces vehicle weight, and the glass for the side
windows and roof has been replaced with polycarbonate, which is around
40% lighter. Other interior materials include aluminium for lighter
weight, and other recycled products.

Land
Rover says it is waiting to see the reaction that the LRX concept gets
at the Detroit Show, however the company will have no choice but to
give us greener 4x4s if it wants to survive.