Thursday, February 14, 2008

Land Rover LRX Cross-Coupe

Amid strong speculation that Land Rover (and Jaguar) soon would be sold off by Ford, the Land Rover folks took the wraps off the LRX Cross-Coupe, only the second concept vehicle in the English company's history. With an emphasis more on on-road prowess than the mountain-goat abilities we typically associate with Land Rover, the LRX concept vehicle is seen as a compact, lightweight, fuel-efficient and ecologically friendly way to help Land Rover expand its global sales and perhaps become more attractive to potential suitors that include India's Tata.

As such, the LRX is built with environmentally friendly materials on a shortened version of the company's LR2 sport-utility vehicle, which means it's powered by a transverse-mounted inline-6 that sends power to all four wheels. We like the sloped-roof styling of the 2-door LRX, which maintains traditional Land Rover cues (particularly in front, with the clamshell hood) while incorporating bold elements such as strong fender flares. Inside the modern cabin, the four seats appear to hang from an exposed (and structural) center spine, covered in an attractive vegetable-tanned leather not unlike that of a baseball glove. What's more, the rear seats fold in a non-traditional way, creating enough room beneath the rear hatch for a pair of mountain bikes.

Land Rover will gauge public reaction to the LRX Cross-Coupe at the Detroit show, hoping it strikes a chord with people much like the Mini and Audi TT have done. If it does, and if the company can keep a production LRX looking just like this attractive concept, they may have a winner on their hands, as it will be the first Land Rover in which versatility and on-road dynamics do not take a back seat to off-road abilities.

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