Recent news from England has indicated that the Land Rover LRX Concept vehicle will be debuting in 2010 with full production starting in 2011, and considering the genius of this concept, it’s about time. The LRX, which may end up being branded a Range Rover when it hit dealerships in early 2011, was first shown off at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2008 and represents an evolution for Land Rover. The vehicle is much lighter than the company’s other SUVs, features a more efficient engine, and openly embraces the next generation of technology to the point where it fully integrates with an iPhone.
The official press release from Land Rover calls the LRX a “cross-coupe” which is, to be honest, a silly name. Call it a compact crossover vehicle, or a two-door ute. And yes, the LRX does have two doors, which is a break from the traditional Land Rover SUV design. The essential design philosophy of the LRX is to take the idea of a premium or executive car (like a BMW or Jaguar sedan or coupe, for example) and imagine it with a 4×4 twist.
The powertrain offers another twist on the old Land Rover formula. Due to the lighter weight of the LRX (and its presumably toned-down off-road abilities), a smaller engine is possible, and it looks like a 2.0-liter turbodiesel, a traditional V6 gasoline engine, and potentially a hybrid model could eventually see release. Land Rover, a sister company of Jaguar, has access to the hybrid powertrain that the latter company has been developing for sometime, and considering the already prolific sharing between the two companies (the new Land Rover LR4 and Range Rover both use Jag’s V8), a Jaguar-developed hybrid drivetrain doesn’t seem very far fetched. Exact power specifications have yet to be released but, considering the above mentioned goal of making the LRX similar to a premium or executive vehicle, the vehicle probably won’t lack in power.
While the exterior of the LRX is definitely appealing, it is the interior that truly represent a giant leap forward for the company. Land Rover’s designers had to figure out a way to take a physically smaller space than they normally work with and make it seem spacious and comfortable. One of the most obvious additions is that glass roof, which provides a tinted panorama of the sky and helps add to the feeling of vertical space in the cabin. The seats are also specially designed to provide extra space. While certainly evoking a space-age vibe, the seats are actually very thin, leading to extra leg room for passengers in the rear. Also, a lot of the technological gadgets are cleverly integrated. For example, a recessed pocket in the center console serves as an iPhone docking station, interior panels in the rear seat area open to reveal a chilling box for beverages, and an intuitive LCD display controls many of the vehicle’s functions, making myriad buttons unnecessary.
Definitely the most exciting thing about the LRX going into production is assurance from Land Rover that they will be sticking pretty close to the design of the LRX Concept. All too often, a concept vehicle will get the greelight for production and all of the special features that made it a great concept will be stripped out to make it more appealing to the general market. Thankfully, due to Land Rover’s rather specialized market niche, they do not need to compromise and can produce a compact SUV that truly looks to the future.