Land Rover LRX ~ Greatest Vehicles

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Land Rover LRX

Not many concept vehicles have made it to production in nearly the same guise as those that wow showgoers. So when first shown as the Land Rover LRX at the North American International Auto Show, most people assumed that this was purely a figment of some designer’s imagination. What many were not prepared for was that Land Rover committed the LRX project to production changing just a few scraps (and crucially re-badging it to Range Rover) resulting in what we now know as
the Evoque.
Positioned to take on the BMW X1 as well as the forthcoming Audi Q3, the Evoque is Range Rover’s smallest SUV yet. It is billed as a coupe utility vehicle and not an SUV, quite like BMW’s sports activity vehicle. The definitions for these are thin but essentially what they do point out is an elevated driving character within a vehicle that has the good bits of a coupe rolled into an SUV. But where the dynamics and engine options are quite impressive on paper, what is most impressive is Range Rover’s design and style take on what the next generation of SUV should look and feel like both from the outside and inside. The Evoque as I mentioned is a cross between a coupe and an SUV, and while it immediately provokes debate on just how much space a coupe-like form provides inside the cabin due to that low slung roof, let me assure you that for the average Indian body size and weight, it’s enough. Yet there is a sense of claustrophobia because the glass areas by which I mean the windows and not the optional panoramic sunroof are small. The sense of claustrophobia is not eased much by the sunroof either, whose benefit to spaciousness is only apparent when you leave the overhead curtain open in which case it gets relatively hotter inside the cabin. The cabin is otherwise well appointed to seat four passengers with all the modern amenities that one could wish for in a luxury SUV. What’s new to the Evoque is an 8-inch touch screen with audio/video and satellite navigation controls all placed on a dashboard that looks more mature and handsome than the conventional Range Rover yet integrates several traditional features such as the rotary gear selector for the automatic version and that chunky steering wheel.
Having put those aspects out of the way the Evoque otherwise is a brilliant design exercise. The exteriors are simply too juicy to ignore when it drives past. It’s got an overpowering presence thanks to that high hood line and those chunky flanks all wrapped around that bevelled front end. What makes it even more tantalising is the detailing, such as the ventilated grille, the led clusters, the air intakes on the hood and the massive front bumper and air dam. Together they make a very arresting visual and hide the nightmarish challenges designers faced in packaging the Evoque. The sense of dynamism is elevated even more with the high shoulder line, the low roof and the narrow windows and I quite like the way those lines lead toward the rear tapering in a very strong and muscular visual. There is a latent power suggested by those lines and the thick and broad bodywork heightens the sense of excitement of wanting to get inside the Evoque.
A critical part of the brief for the LRX concept, which spawned the Evoque was to keep the dimensions compact without losing any of the Land Rover heritage and traditional strengths. What that essentially meant was that designers had to come up with an SUV which was compact enough to take on the X1 and the Q3 but yet have all the necessary all-terrain abilities of any full scale Land Rover. The only place the designers could find the bandwidth to package the Evoque the way it is, was by extruding a new chassis from their Land Rover Mid Size platform which is also the base of the Freelander. So the platform was compressed to keep the height and interior space requirements as specified in the original brief. To retain structural integrity and strength new construction methods and stronger and lighter materials were employed to build the chassis. Eventually smart packaging for instance resulted in the 70-litre tank being shaped in a very un-tank like shape retaining a high ground clearance, a 420-litre boot, a space saver spare wheel in the boot and the option to go with full 20” wheels and tyres if a customer desired it.
Even the engine bay had to be packaged to accommodate the engine and its ancillary components. So a new sub frame was built and new engine installation points as well as a new air induction system were created to keep in mind that the Evoque was a go anywhere as extreme as it gets Range Rover.
But a review of just how well all these aspects work together is still a few months away when the Evoque finally hits production.
It however is not possible to cut corners when it comes to technology, while aiming to provide the same driving experience as any other Range Rover. And the Evoque in fact remarkably adds a few more skills to its burgeoning list of capabilities, one of which is a new terrain response system that now also features a dynamic drive mode.



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