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/100 km) 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).