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Land Rover LRX concept

Tue, 18 Dec 2007 00:00:00 -0800

By Tim Pollard

First Official Pictures

18 December 2007 11:19

Here is Land Rover’s riposte to the anti-SUV brigade: the long-awaited baby Landy – a hybrid 4x4 so small it shares a footprint with a Ford Focus. The LRX will be shown at the Detroit Motor Show in January 2008 and presages a new, compact Land Rover due on sale in the next decade.

Think shrunken Freelander coupe and you’ve got the LRX in a nutshell. It’s just 4351mm long (149mm shorter than a Freelander) and 1535mm high (-205mm). Land Rover calls it a ‘cross-coupe’ and in the metal this car looks surprisingly compact – every inch as small as a Focus or Golf.

Smaller dimensions won’t bring smaller prices, however. The LRX will be pitched as a replacement for the three-door Freelander and priced accordingly. This is a car for people who deride the unnecessary heft of large SUVs, but want to retain the visual presence of 4x4s. It’s Land Rover lite.

That’s the $64,000 question. Forget all the chat about ‘gauging interest’ and the usual concept-car nonsense. Land Rover is deadly serious about stretching its range down into smaller segments, as the market turns against big, lumbering off-roaders cluttering up city streets.

The LRX concept is equipped with the necessary green technology to get the right message across. There’s a 2.0-litre hybrid diesel powertrain that has been Federalised for US sales (a detail that makes it sound like it’s heading for production) and E-RAD, Land Rover’s new system for electric rear axle drive.

This is the first car to be designed under new Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern. He references cars like the Mini, Audi TT and VW Beetle, saying ‘they all appeared at motor shows as concepts, but the production cars were very faithful to those designs. That was unusual back then, but not anymore. There’s no reason why any of what you see on the LRX can’t happen – interior included.’

A solid hint that the LRX will be built in similar form, then. Our advice is to expect something as toned down as the transition from Range Stormer to Range Rover Sport.

By Tim Pollard