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Official: Land Rover signs off on LRX

Mini-Rangie: LRX concept will morph into reality next year.

Smallest, lightest, most efficient model confirmed for production by Land Rover

Land Rover logo25 Sep 2009

By MARTON PETTENDY

LAND Rover has finally confirmed what was widely expected both inside and outside the company: a version of the sleek LRX compact SUV concept will go on sale globally in 2011.

The news was released yesterday in the UK, along with a fresh design sketch that “hints at (the) style of (the) new small Range Rover”.

While the announcement confirms that a production version of the striking 2008 Detroit motor show concept will debut next year before joining the Land Rover line-up as a Range Rover in 2011, the new image shows a vehicle that retains the concept’s unlikely two-door design – this time with Range Rover, rather than Land Rover, bonnet lettering.

But the latest LRX image also features larger wing mirrors, slightly larger foglight recesses and a revised front bumper with additional horizontal air intake slot.

24 center imageLefT: Images of the LRX released last year, with Land Rover badging.

More details of the production version have promised for when the vehicle is revealed in 2010, with a June 17 unveil date having been speculated to coincide with the Range Rover’s 40th anniversary.

According to Land Rover, the new Range Rover – which is expected to wear a showroom name other than LRX – was designed and engineered at the company’s Gaydon facility and will be the smallest, lightest and most efficient vehicle the British off-road maker has ever produced.

As we have previously reported, it will be made alongside the Freelander, upon which it is based, at the Halewood factory in Liverpool. “Subject to quality and productivity agreements”, it will be sold in more than 100 countries around the world, including Australia.

“The production of a small Range Rover model is excellent news for our employees, dealers and customers,” said Land Rover managing director Phil Popham yesterday.

“It is a demonstration of our commitment to investing for the future, to continue to deliver relevant vehicles for our customers, with the outstanding breadth of capability for which we are world-renowned.

“Feedback from our customer research also fully supports our belief that a production version of the LRX concept would further raise the desirability of our brand and absolutely meet their expectations,” said Mr Popham.

Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern said the production iteration of the LRX would remain true to the concept.

“The new vehicle will be a natural extension to the Range Rover line-up, complementing the existing models and helping to define a new segment,” he said.

“It will be true to the concept and have many recognisable Range Rover design cues, including the signature clamshell bonnet, the floating roof and the solid 'wheel-at-each-corner' stance.” However, Mr McGovern told GoAuto at last week’s Frankfurt motor show that a five-door version of the LRX concept would be less dramatic.

“The three-door coupe is the image-leading vehicle – that’s the vehicle we did as the concept. How it manifests itself when it comes into production, you’ll just have to wait and see.

“If you introduce the extra doors clearly you’re going to lift the roof at the back to give more headroom ... it would give you a slightly different look.

“It might give you a less dramatic vehicle, but not necessarily a less interesting vehicle.” The LRX concept was shown at Detroit with a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel hybrid electric powertrain that Land Rover said at the time would use about 30 per cent less fuel than other 4WDs of comparable size.

A similar drivetrain is expected to be at least an (expensive) option within the compact Land Rover’s model range, with an electrically driven rear axle likely to work in combination with the engine-driven front wheels.

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