Few diesels are offered in North America, fewer still in sports-utility guise. Consumer concerns over high(er) diesel fuel prices, due to global demand, are outweighed by fuel economy benefits. The LRX further improves upon this with a hybrid powertrain; electric assist motors power the rear axles in a system already used in vehicles like the Japanese Nissan Cube.
Up front, the LRX Concept has a 2.0-litre diesel four-cylinder motor, whose power is geared manually with six forward speeds. In a similar production unit, about 150 horsepower would be expected, with a 0-100 km/h sprint in a speedy 9 seconds - speedy, at least for a 50 miles-per-gallon SUV.
With only two doors, the LRX tops BMW's X6 for the title of sports-utility coupe, although even more than with the X6 are real-world usability, or utter need, questioned. If the LRX Concept went into production, expect a model with four standard doors to be optional, if not mandatory. Compared to Land Rover's LR2, the LRX Concept loses 6 inches in length, almost 5 inches in ground clearance, and 7.5 inches in overall height, however both share similar wheelbases.
One bonus to the LRX's smaller size is that it punches better through the air, something Land Rovers are not known for. This notably eases fuel consumption at speed. The LRX also benefits from a reduction in sheer girth. In addition, weight savings are made with further use of aluminum, as well as with polycarbonate windows (40% lighter than glass).
Although set with lower standard ground clearance, the LRX could remain capable off road if fitted with Land Rover's height adjustable air suspension; the LRX Concept already features carbon composite protective underbody panels. Even with its hybrid power plant, the LRX Concept still retains full-time four-wheel-drive with Hill Descent Control, mated to Land Rover's distinctive Terrain Response system. This system optimizes traction on a multitude of conditions, from ice or snow, to gravel or wet grass; however, in the LRX Concept, another 'Eco' mode has been added to optimize urban efficiency.
Selecting the Eco mode also changes the interior lights to a softer green from either the sports-mode red or off-road blue. Inside, the LRX Concept has decent space for four people; meanwhile, there is significant under-seat and under-floor storage. Incorporated into the Range Rover styled tailgate is not only a place to sit, but also a bottle chiller and speakers with an iPod docking station. Furthermore, Land Rover says the LRX can be fitted with an internal bike rack with the back seats folded.
Many like Land Rovers, but rarely are they considered environmentally kind. To further battle this notion, the LRX Concept uses more recycled materials - the 'fine suede' trim pieces were once plastic bottles. Additionally, its carpet felt is from sustainable sources, and the chromium-free leather is more recycle-friendly. The LRX Concept embodies the future of Land Rover, and even after spending $2.3 billion to purchase both Land Rover and Jaguar from Ford, Tata can't afford not to put the LRX into production. Given how the 2004 Range Stormer Concept eluded to the 2006 Range Rover Sport, we could see a production LRX on our roads by 2010.