Leav­ing the land be­hind

Af­ter 60 years, Land Rover takes the soft-roader op­tion, writes Paul Gover

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - LUXURY CARS -

THE first Land Rover de­signed for the city and not the coun­try will hit Aus­tralian show­rooms within 18 months. The pro­duc­tion ver­sion of the LRX con­cept car — one of the last projects given the green light by Aus­tralia’s Ge­off Po­lites be­fore his death — is now con­firmed for pro­duc­tion as a 2011 model, point­ing to a pro­duc­tion start be­fore the end of next year. But it will not be called LRX — a new name will be cho­sen for show­rooms.

The LRX is a ma­jor change of di­rec­tion for Land Rover, since it is a se­ri­ous soft-roader and not re­motely re­lated to the off-road fam­ily, which has its roots in the 1948 Se­ries I that the com­pany de­vel­oped to ri­val the Willys Jeep in the years fol­low­ing World War II.

Con­fir­ma­tion of LRX pro­duc­tion comes from Phil Popham, the manag­ing di­rec­tor of Land Rover, who says it will be built at the com­pany’s fac­tory at Hale­wood in Liver­pool.

Popham says the go-ahead is ‘‘ex­cel­lent news for our em­ploy­ees, dealers and cus­tomers’’.

The LRX is in­tended to be a fash­ion item with a Land Rover badge and will go up against the new breed of pres­tige SUVs in­clud­ing the BMW X1 and the up­com­ing Mini cross­over wagon. Even so, it will have a new Haldex all-wheel drive sys­tem.

Land Rover has high hopes for the LRX and is mak­ing big claims for the ve­hi­cle, which it says is the small­est, light­est and most fuel-ef­fi­cient ve­hi­cle the com­pany has pro­duced.

It is the first com­pletely new model from Land Rover un­der its new own­er­ship by Tata Motors, which is based in In­dia.

The LRX has been fast-tracked from the time it was re­vealed as a sin­gle teaser pic­ture at the Frankfurt Mo­tor Show two years ago, be­fore a string of ma­jor show ap­pear­ances in Europe and the USA start­ing at the Detroit show in 2008.

It is clos­est in style to the Range Rover Sport, which was the first model to step away from the bush in the search for city sales. It is in­tended to drop in be­low the Free­lander and will not share the com­pact four-wheel drive’s ma­jor me­chan­i­cal parts.

‘‘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 worl­drenowned,’’ Popham says.

‘‘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.’’

TAR­MAC TER­RI­TORY: Land Rover’s LRX and its in­te­rior.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.