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Stripped-down Hummer sets sights on Wrangler


The greens will have difficulty carping about this Hummer

Look out Jeep, Hummer has the iconic Wrangler in its sights with the HX off-road oriented concept unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show.

And this is one sports utility vehicle that the greens will have difficulty carping about – it runs on an 85 per cent ethanol/15 per cent petrol fuel blend.

The reconfigurable off-roader is more compact than a Hummer H3, and the HX’s body can be converted to suit varied trail conditions, cargo needs or passenger whims.

The HX offers open-air driving via a pair of removable roof panels above the driver and front passenger, and a modular, removable rear roof assembly.

The HX was designed to be configured alternately as a Sports Utility Truck (with the roof assembly removed), a slant-back or a traditional, wagon-like design that offers a bit more cargo space.

The HX was shown with a slant-back and a desert-inspired matt olive paint scheme, at Detroit.

Easily removable pins in the exposed hinges allow the doors to be removed quickly, and removable fender flares are attached with quarter-turn quick-release fasteners.

The composite fender flares can be quickly removed for additional trail/rock clearance, or if the flare is damaged during off-road driving.

Its design is based on ideas developed by three young designers who are new to the Hummer studio.

As part of their initiation they were tasked with developing concept drawings for a smaller, youthful Hummer.

The HX, based on one of the designers’ original illustrations, incorporates ideas thought up by all three.

“This is the Hummer design language stripped down to its essence,” says creative designer David Rojas.

Its lightweight theme is enhanced by exposed, billet aluminium suspension components that feature CNC-machined lightening relieves, as well as clean, unadorned bodywork and minimal trim.

Classic Hummer design cues include round headlights located in square housings, an upright windscreen profile, minimal overhangs, bonnet vents and prominent air intakes. The grille slots and lights, as well as elements on the interior, look like circles or ovals that have been clipped at the top and bottom.

“The cut-off circles suggest larger, heavy-duty components that were trimmed to fit the compact HX,” says Rojas.

The HID headlights have focusing rings that adjust automatically when they’re turned on, much like the lens of an auto-focus SLR-type camera. LED technology is used for the front indicators and the taillights.

The HX’s interior was inspired by aircraft.

“Aeronautical parts are designed to be both lightweight and strong, and that’s the feeling exuded by the HX’s cabin,” says interior design manager Stuart Norris. “There isn’t superfluous trim or decoration; it’s a purposeful design that conveys beauty through strength.”

Furthering the aeronautical influence is the instrument panel, which uses an exposed, extruded aluminium cross-vehicle beam as its foundation.

The instrument cluster and other vital controls are mounted on the beam that has a removal cover that provides significant storage capability.

A rubberised floor and ballistic nylon-material covering on the instrument panel and other interior components reinforce the functional aesthetic.

Like aircraft seats, the HX’s are built on a lightweight framework with minimal components that feature lightening holes and strength-enhancing cross braces or triangulations.

They’re mounted on exposed, aircraft-style tracks and trimmed with weather-resistant neoprene.

The HX seats four; the second row seats can be removed for more cargo room. All the seats have four-point, racing-style safety harnesses.

The gear-shifter mounts low and out of the way when the vehicle is parked, and has a spring-loaded cover that pops up when the driver is ready to select a gear. Norris says the variety of storage spaces make the HX “like a four-wheel backpack that’s already fitted with the necessities.”

A reconfigurable instrument layout uses LCD screens with multiple layouts, including a navigation system with GPS and compass information. It’s designed to upload trail information before setting off on an excursion.

The centre gauge pod houses a speedometer and tachometer, but changes to a wheel angle indicator when the transmission is set in low position.

The off-road mode changeover from the highway mode gives the driver information that is more pertinent.

Other off-road equipment includes a folding shovel, torch and first-aid kit.

The HX has body-on-frame construction, and its front suspension features an electronic-disconnecting stabiliser bar for enhanced manoeuvrability when driving off-road. The rear suspension is located by Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC)-machined, billet trailing arms. Heavy-duty shocks with piggyback reservoirs were custom-made for the HX by Fox.

A full-time 4WD system transfers torque to the front and rear axles, each of which is equipped with a locking differential.

The torque meets the trail via custom 35-inch-tall off-road tyres that are mounted on a set of custom, bead-lock-style wheels that have a two-tone appearance; dark-painted wheel centres complemented by silver-anodised outer rims.

A complete underbody armour kit, including a front skid plate, powertrain protection and more, protects the HX from wayward rocks and other potentially damaging objects. A power-operated winch is located in the front bumper, and the HX has recovery hooks mounted on the front and rear bumpers.

And the HX is green, running an E85 FlexFuel 3.6-litre SIDI V6 and a six-speed automatic transmission.

Will Hummer build a production version? Almost certainly, as it vies with Jeep to be the King of the off-road.

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