NEW_CAR_PREVIEW

Concept-Land Rover LRX Hybrid Preview

2/24/2012


Critical Knowledge:
  • 2.0-liter, turbo-diesel hybrid powertrain

  • Electric Rear Axle Drive (ERAD)

  • Modern interpretation of traditional Land Rover design elements

  • Use of lightweight, recycled polycarbonate materials


Introduction
Land Rover has only produced two concept vehicles in its history. The first was the Range Stormer, introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in 2004. That concept became the Range Rover Sport-so chances are good that a production version of the LRX will come along in the not-too-distant future. This concept marks Land Rover's first automotive foray into the world of alternative fuels, in a vehicle that can tackle the non-roads of Belize or roof-deep waters of the Amazon. The LRX will focus on reducing weight, increasing the use of sustainable materials, and reducing its carbon footprint on the environment.

Exterior Design
Swoopy may not be a technical design term, but it works when describing the LRX concept. Because it's from England, we can't call it a crossover. It's described by Land Rover as a cross-coup_, which involves delivering the benefits of an SUV in a more compact package. Size-wise, the LRX is almost six inches shorter than the LR2, and just over eight inches shorter for easier access. It retains many of Land Rover's design cues, like a clamshell hood and floating roof, but with a more modern interpretation. The LRX, while muscular-looking, has a strong taper toward the back of the greenhouse. There are no exposed pillars, and 20-inch wheels and tires add to its overall aggressive stance. A perforated 2-bar grille, jewel-like headlamps, polished aluminum side trim, air vents in the hood and on the sides, and a shade of frosted white paint peculiar to this model make it a standout in the crossover category.

At the New York International Auto Show, Land Rover showed off the LRX, but this time dressed it a bit more formally, in metallic black paint with a silver roof. This color change was presented as a way to show how the vehicle can be personalized for discerning buyers. Other differentiators between the black LRX and the white one shown previously include a removable carbon-composite roof panel with integral anchor points that will provide attachment points for snowboards and other sports equipment. In addition, the newest edition of this concept added black roofbars, a compact step above the rear bumper for easy roof access, front and rear carbon-composite underbody plates for off-road protection, and lightweight alloy wheels with tires that sport a unique tread pattern. The LRX also featured moldings on the bumpers and sills to continue the all-terrain capabilities theme.
Interior Design
The fresh styling outside is carried over to the inside of the LRX concept.In keeping with Land Rover's luxury appeal, the vegetable-tanned, no-chromium leather seats are soft and supple, and the trim features polished aluminum details for contrast. The instruments use LCD graphics that appear to be floating, giving it a 3D look that drivers can personalize to suit their tastes. Touch-screen operation makes all functions easy to control, and the LRX includes a docking station for the iPhone. Because it's a crossover, cargo-carrying capability is a must. The tailgate is split horizontally, and is power-operated and incorporates power-adjustable speakers along with an iPod docking station. In addition, a cooler box and bottle chiller can be attached to the lower tailgate. In addition, the tailgate integrates aluminum cupholders between two padded seat areas so you can sit and sip at the same time. Interior room can be monopolized by adjusting the seats to create a large, flat storage area for bikes, skis or surfboards.

Hardware
With a 2.0-liter turbo-diesel engine, the LRX hybrid is also capable of running on bio-diesel fuel. The goal for the LRX was to reduce fuel usage by 30 percent compared to other crossover vehicles in its class, as well as reduce CO2 emissions. The bottom line is a fuel economy number close to the 50-mpg range. ERAD allows the LRX to use electric drive at lower speeds and provides additional torque only when needed, while delivering drive power to all four wheels. This helps give the LRX better low-speed control as well as excellent grip on low-traction surfaces like wet grass or snow, Land Rover says. It also should help when towing. The ERAD system will power the vehicle electrically up to 20 mph, with an Integrated Starter-Generator (ISG) restarting the engine automatically when needed. The electric drive system would assist the mechanical drive until the engine is running at its most efficient capacity. At idle, the engine stops, but will start up again instantly with the ISG. Regenerative braking also is used to recharge the electrical system's power.

Two other features Land Rover customers are familiar with include Hill Descent Control, which basically turns the braking capability over to the vehicle during steep descents, and Terrain Response, which maximizes traction and optimizes the vehicle's drivability, the automaker explains. The LRX's Terrain Response system includes a new "Eco" mode that is designed to improve fuel economy when driving on the highway.

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