These are leaked images of the Land Rover LRX concept, a lightweight cross-coupe that has come to light five days before it was due to be released on December 18th.
Company bosses say this upmarket junior crossover SUV is no flight of fancy. It is, they say, very close to a brand new Land Rover production car that will go into production at the Halewood factory in mid-2009. And Autocar.co.uk can bring you full pictures and information on it before anyone else.
LRX: the sustainable future of Land Rover
The LRX will be shown at the Detroit show in January and represents what Land Rover global marketing director Colin Green calls "the future of the brand”.The LRX's design is intended to show how serious Land Rover is about building efficient and sustainable cars for the future, whilst still including all the features customers expect.
The styling is quite different from any previous Land Rover, but the brand identity remains in the grille design, clamshell bonnet, dark pillars, floating roof and what Gerry McGovern calls “visual robustness”.
Even the interior highlights environmental credentials, with a cabin that bristles with natural and biodegradable materials, such as vegetable-tanned leather and natural felt.
Smaller than Freelander, and better-looking
Despite its big car looks, the LRX is actually 10mm shorter, and a striking 250mm lower than the Freelander. The LRX will start with the same powertrains as its bigger stablemate, and even have the same basic chassis and suspension.
A developed version of the Land Rover Terrain Response system will ensure that it has a similar breadth of ability as the Freelander, too.
Stop-start technology will be fitted to the car as standard from launch, but expect green credentials to get even better when a hybrid powertrain joins the lineup later in the model's life.
More than any other model or concept of the past five years, the LRX shows what Land Rovers will be like in the 2010s, when CO2 output and fuel economy will become every bit as important as horsepower.