Geneva '08 Preview: Land Rover LRX puts on a tux, looks sharp
And here we thought it looked good in white. Land Rover is quick to remind that the LRX is just a concept, but it's sending a pretty strong message in Geneva, where a second, black-and-silver LRX will join the original white truck that premiered in Detroit. And the new one is even hotter than the original, itself one of the best concepts of the last year. It's supposed to demonstrate how a (potential) production LRX could be personalized, and we would like to have one delivered to our personal garage approximately yesterday.
The rakish shape now features a silver roof fitted with side rails and a removable carbon-composite panel. This beautifully contrasts the black primary finish, and aluminum-accented details do their part to further dress up the exterior. As a subtle reminder to onlookers that this is still a Land Rover despite its elegance, matte-finished protective trim adorns the side sills and wheel flares. Furthermore, carbon-composite skidplates supply underbody protection. Inside, a sumptuous-sounding (LR hasn't released any pictures yet) tan-and-dark chocolate interior awaits. Motivation comes from a 2.0L diesel hybrid that is theoretically capable of 60 mpg on the EU combined cycle. The Electric Rear Axle Drive can power the SUV on its own up to 20 mph, and it also can be used to supply additional torque when the LRX is playing in 4x4 mode. Like we said earlier, the LRX is still only a concept, but Land Rover will be actively monitoring customer and dealer interest in Geneva.
The white one got our attention, but this one closes the deal. Hey Land Rover: white or black, just color us interested.
[Source: Land Rover]
LAND ROVER LRX CONCEPT
- Land Rover shows two different versions of its LRX concept in Geneva - desirable, premium and compact 4x4s which extend the definition of 'breadth of capability'
- Brand new, black and silver version of LRX designed to highlight the concept's suitability for contemporary personalisation
- Conceived as capable of having a range of powertrains, including a 2.0-litre turbodiesel hybrid, with potential CO2 emissions of 120 g/km and fuel economy of 60 mpg (4.7 l/100 km)
- Demonstrates Land Rover's commitment to sustainability – with new technologies, lightweight design and environmentally-responsible materials
- A bold evolution of Land Rover design – but still unmistakably a Land Rover
- Impeccable attention to detail and precision of execution underpin LRX's premium credentials
"With its metallic black paintwork, silver roof and precisely detailed exterior features, the second version of the LRX concept is designed to show how well the vehicle can deliver a contemporary example of personalisation," says Gerry McGovern, Land Rover's design director.
"The LRX concept already has an abundance of character, but you can tune the appearance to reflect a customer's own personality and lifestyle. Clever use of colour and subtle additional details enable the vehicle to be tailored to suit an individual's style, without compromising the clean design of the LRX," he adds.
No production plans have been confirmed yet for the LRX concept, and both versions will now be used to gauge public, dealer and media response to Land Rover's cross-coupe concept, as well as its interesting new opportunities for vehicle personalisation.
"We were hugely excited by the positive response that the original LRX concept generated when we showed it at the Detroit Show a few weeks ago," says Phil Popham, managing director of Land Rover. "But we've always seen scope for LRX to provide a whole showroom of different models, with a range of powertrains including hybrids and bio-fuel capable engines."
Using lightweight material technologies, Land Rover has developed a series of bespoke features for the black and silver LRX that add to the vehicle's individuality and flexibility. The removable carbon composite roof panel contrasts with the silver-coloured roof, and has integral anchor points for fixing snowboards and other sports equipment. The sleek black roof bars provide another option for roof-top loads, and a compact step above the rear bumper provides for easy roof-top access. More carbon composite is used for the protective underbody plates at front and rear, while new, lightweight alloy wheels with unique-design tyres signal purposefulness. And to protect the vehicle when the going gets tough - in either urban or off-road situations - there are smart, resilient mouldings on bumpers and sills.
"The black and silver LRX shows a real world breadth of capability. Its all-terrain ability, extra protection and load-carrying versatility help emphasise that it's an authentic Land Rover, while its compact dimensions, agile handling and efficient powertrain make it a practical proposition for everyday driving," says Phil Popham.
The LRX concept marks a bold evolution of Land Rover design, signalling the brand's potential shift into new areas of the market, while remaining true to its core values. As the company celebrates 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 and offers the potential of 120 g/km CO2 emissions and fuel economy of 60 mpg (4.7 l/100km) on the European combined cycle.
"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. "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."
COMPACT AND PREMIUM
LRX is described as a cross-coupé and dramatically extends the scope of what Land Rover represents. Though 149 mm (5.9 in) shorter than the Freelander 2 / LR2 and 205 mm (8.1 in) lower, 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 4x4 and the presence of a larger vehicle, but in a more compact package.
The first all-new Land Rover revealed since Gerry McGovern became the company's design director, LRX is a natural extension of the Land Rover range, complementing the existing models and helping to define a new segment. Its many recognisable Land Rover design cues include bold new interpretations of the signature clamshell bonnet, the floating roof and the solid 'wheel-at-each-corner' stance.
"LRX is a design born out of passion for the brand, but it is different, relevant, engaging and exciting – because Land Rover has never built ordinary cars," says Gerry McGovern. "LRX has a highly desirable identity and the design alludes strongly to its capability, while clearly underlining our forward-looking philosophy – it's a Land Rover that would be comfortable on Bond Street or Fifth Avenue, but wouldn't flinch at getting its wheels dirty."
Its compact size is one of its greatest assets, which will appeal to anyone who wants the versatile ability of an agile 4x4 with the cachet of the Land Rover name. In addition, its lower weight and the reduced aerodynamic drag resulting from the smaller frontal area would help give significant gains in fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions.
HIGHLY EFFICIENT POWERTRAIN
The white LRX is conceived as a highly fuel-efficient 2.0-litre, turbodiesel hybrid, capable of running on bio-diesel. In combination with other Land Rover technologies, this powertrain could reduce fuel consumption by as much as 30% compared with other 4x4s of comparable size, and reduce CO2 emissions to approximately 120 g/km.
LRX's improved efficiencies are the result of advanced mechanical and electrical energy-saving elements, which are combined to achieve cumulative gains in many areas.
The concept's integrated Electric Rear Axle Drive (ERAD) is particularly significant in Land Rover terms as it would allow LRX to use electric drive alone at lower speeds while retaining full (even improved) 4x4 ability in tough conditions. Unlike the hybrid technology used by some 4x4 rivals, Land Rover's unique solution retains mechanical drive to all four wheels.
Off-road, the ERAD would provide additional torque only when it is needed, and with maximum electrical torque from standstill, this solution offers even better low-speed control and enhanced pull-away on difficult surfaces (such as packed snow or wet grass) or when towing.
On the road, the ERAD would allow low-speed traffic creep up to 20 mph (32 km/h) on electric power alone, with the Integrated Starter-Generator (ISG) function re-starting the engine automatically when needed. The electric drive would then continue to assist the mechanical drive until the engine is running in its most efficient range, benefiting both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
The ISG would also stop the engine automatically when the vehicle halts in traffic, so the engine does not idle needlessly, and restart it quickly and smoothly as required.
The electrical drive system uses power stored in a dedicated high-voltage, high-capacity, lithium-ion battery pack, independent of the normal 12-volt battery. This is charged by a regenerative braking energy system, also working through the ERAD.
LRX also incorporates Hill Descent Control and Land Rover's acclaimed and user-friendly Terrain Response system, which optimises vehicle drivability and comfort, as well as maximising traction. On LRX, this has five modes, including the new and efficiency-focused 'Eco' mode. Principally for on-road use, this configures all the integrated elements of the car's system for optimised fuel economy. The other four Terrain Response modes provided are sports (also new), general driving, sand and 'grass/gravel/snow' (a single programme for slippery surfaces).
EXTENDING 'BREADTH OF CAPABILITY'
The positioning of LRX could be described 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 its character is underlined by excellent agility, handling and performance, LRX also promises the widest breadth of capability in the class.
The design of LRX was developed entirely in-house by Gerry McGovern's team, driven by a passion to create a car that truly represents Land Rover's future thinking. It has a very dynamic profile, with a distinctive taper to the floating roofline and a muscular shoulder running the length of the car, accentuated by the rising beltline. The glazing wraps right around LRX, with no exposed pillars, creating a bold design graphic. The architectural structure of the upper body can be glimpsed through the windows and roof – echoing some of the best contemporary buildings.
Pushing the wheels out to the four corners helps give the car its purposeful stance, and its front-end design makes a powerful and instantly recognisable statement of Land Rover's identity. The carefully sculpted corners dramatically reduce the car's visual overhangs front and rear.
There are new interpretations of Land Rover's traditional clamshell bonnet, distinctive headlamps and perforated two-bar grille. The car has jewel-like, tapering blade indicator clusters front and rear, and the wheelarches are wide but softly integrated, housing highly polished, 20-inch alloy wheels.
The fine detailing includes additional polished aluminium in the form of side-strips, side and bonnet vents, and the exterior door releases, which are concealed in the car's shoulders. Graphic details such as these appear to be 'punched out' of the smooth body surfaces rather than overlaid on them. The 'frosted' white paint colour was especially developed for LRX and its visual depth helps to highlight the car's form.
IMPECCABLE, PREMIUM INTERIOR
The interior of the LRX concept clearly demonstrates how a compact Land Rover can still be roomy, practical, versatile – and sophisticated. The impeccably executed cabin features a combination of soft leathers in rich tan and dark chocolate, with polished aluminium details, while the visible structures of the seats, instrument panel and roof architecture not only give a highly distinctive look but also help save weight.
The 'fast' sloping architecture of the centre console reflects LRX's sporty dynamics, as does the distinctive binnacle over the instrument cluster. The electronic display uses 'floating' LCD graphics to create a three-dimensional look that can be personalised for different drivers, as well as interacting with LRX's touch-screen display.
The instrument graphics present data in layers depending on their level of importance, to give maximum relevant information with minimum distraction. When appropriate, displayed information transfers between the main instrument cluster and the touch screen. Further adding to LRX's involving personality, different Terrain Response modes are matched by changes in the cabin's background 'mood' lighting colour – green in 'Eco', red in sports and blue in general driving and off-road modes.
CLEVER USE OF SPACE
Although LRX is compact, clever use of space makes it impressively roomy, and many neat design touches maximise its practicality. A second touch-screen area gives a fully interactive display and control for LRX's iPhone docking facility.
On either side of the horizontally-split, power-operated tailgate, removable and power-adjustable speakers include an iPod docking station. There is also a coolbox, plus a bottle chiller that can be clipped to the lowered tailgate. The tailgate also has integral aluminium cupholders between two padded seating areas, for a new twist on the idea of a traditional Land Rover tailgate lunch.
Every interior design detail combines to maximise both actual space and the feeling of space. The clear roof is supported by a 'spider' frame running into the A-pillars, and the rear quarter pillars have glazed apertures for improved visibility and a lighter feel in the cabin.
LRX's distinctive seats 'float' on individual plinths and have open frameworks to reinforce the impression of light, airy interior space – while also creating useful under-seat and under-floor stowage areas. The clever, articulated mechanism of the powered seat backs maximises interior flexibility and helps create a large, flat storage area when needed. With the rear seats folded forward, two mountain bikes can be fitted upright behind them, with front wheels removed and stored in dedicated slots in the floor. Alternatively, skis and surfboards can be accommodated in the generous load space, which has multiple tie-down options and a through-loading option.
"Flexible load-carrying capacity is fundamental to the concept of LRX," says Gerry McGovern. "With this car, we've interpreted the idea of Land Rover 'breadth of capability' to be more about versatility and on-road dynamics than about ultimate off-roading. This meets the needs of the new customers that we believe would be attracted by this type of car; they will not only appreciate LRX's flexibility, but will also recognise that it has been packaged with the highest levels of precision."
SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN
The exposed structures of the seats, roof and instrument panel are just one novel approach that Land Rover's designers have taken to reduce vehicle weight. Another example is replacing the glass for the side windows and roof with polycarbonate from SABIC Innovative Plastics, which is around 40% lighter. The polycarbonate also blocks virtually all UV light (protecting interior materials from fading), while special nano-technology within the material reduces infra-red transmission, helping to keep the interior cool.
Even the choice of premium-quality trim materials reflects Land Rover's deep thinking about sustainability, with vegetable-tanned leather (chromium-free, so better for recycling), extensive use of aluminium (both lightweight and readily recyclable) and carpeting made of felt from sustainable sources. And the luxurious, vanilla-coloured 'fine suede' on the door inserts and headliner is a 100% recycled material made from used plastic bottles and fibres.
"We are determined to make sustainability a key element in our future product design and the way we do business, while still creating vehicles that have a strong emotional appeal as well as fulfilling people's practical needs," says Phil Popham. "No single technology delivers all the answers to whole-life sustainability, but the LRX concept brings together some of the ideas for the future that interest us, integrating them into a car that we believe represents an exciting way forward for Land Rover."
Length: 4351 mm / 171.3 in
Width (excluding mirrors): 1895 mm / 74.6 in
Width (including mirrors): 2083 mm / 82.0 in
Height: 1535 mm / 60.4 in
Wheelbase: 2660 mm / 104.7 in
Engine (proposed): 2.0-litre turbodiesel
Fuel economy (potential): 60 mpg, 4.7 l/100 km (on European combined drive cycle)
CO2 emissions (potential): 120 g/km (on European combined drive cycle)
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