The iconic Land Rover Defender is still, along with the venerable Mercedes-Benz G-Class , one of the few remaining old-school off-roaders, both cars representing an era that will soon become just a romantic memory inside the minds of 4x4 purists everywhere around the world.
When Tata-owned Land Rover launched its two latest concepts during the Frankfurt Auto Show, the DC100 and the DC100 Sport, its marketing people were probably gunning for the children of the very same 4x4 purists mentioned earlier.
Unfortunately, according to the purest definition of the word “purist”, those Land Rover fans will probably be the ones completely saddened by the launch of the aforementioned concept cars. Why, you ask? Well, both the Land Rover DC100 and the DC100 Sport preserve almost nothing from the tradition of the old and trusted Defender model, which has been manufactured in more or less the same form since 1983, while being based on the original Land Rover, the Series.
Thankfully for the die-hard fans, the DC100 and DC100 Sport represent just the start in a four year journey of reinterpreting the Defender in a modern, twenty first century form. They are both like a pilot episode for a new show, if you wish.
Interested in every detail of the Defender Concept 100? Hit the jump and you’ll find out.
UPDATE 01/05/12: Land Rover’s decision to skip the 2012 NAIAS has cast a few raised eyebrows in the industry. Apparently, their new Indian ownership - Tata Motors - decided to bring Land Rover and Jaguar to their home auto show at the Delhi Auto Expo. In the case of the former, it meant that the Land Rover DC100 Concept would be in attendance dressed in a fancy Firenze Red paint finish. In so many words, this version of the DC100 Concept is all sorts of hot! Check out the new photos in the gallery!
gallery: Land Rover Defender
At first glance, some of our American readers might take the DC100 for a futuristic interpretation of a Ford Bronco, or an International Harvester Scout, but the similarities would only be a coincidence, since the Defender and the original Land Rover Series look like DC100’s grandparents as well.
Unlike the original LR Series or the Defender, the DC100 has a completely new wheelbase, which is also hinted by its name: Defender Concept 100 (inches). Which is pretty much in the middle of the two famous wheelbases the Defender and some of the original Land Rover Series vehicles, Ninety and One Ten.
Still, we’re talking about a rather short three-door SUV that hasn’t completely lost it rugged features, despite the heavy addition of modern and futuristic design cues. Overall, you could say that the DC100 looks like a Defender 90 with body armor, if it had been designed by a Manga fan.
John Edwards, Global Brand Director, Land Rover was quoted as saying: "Loved the world over for its simple, honest and distinctive design, we are determined that the new Defender will be true to its heritage, while meeting the requirements of a changing global market.”
Considering the DC100 might also be taken as a modern Bronco or International Harvester Scout, especially from the front, we sure hope the concept following the DC100 will adhere more strictly to the Land Rover design heritage, since design will be the only connection with the past for the next generation of the Defender, slated to appear in 2015.
The interior, on the other hand, despite the overall quality (it’s a concept car, after all) and the addition of a gargantuan and also removable central display, looks just like the futuristic reiteration of the Defender, crossed with the Land rover Series. Nothing more, nothing less.
For example, the door structure continues with a beam running the entire width of the dash. The absence of a central console design somewhat recreates the Series 1 three-abreast seating layout. All in all, even if you might be somewhat dissapointed by the exterior design, depending on your point of view, naturally, the same simply cannot be said about the DC100’s interior.
Even though it’s a concept car, we’re still talking about an off-road-ready looking vehicle which is supposed to provide a glimpse into the Land Rover Defender’s future. With that being said, “performance” can only be used in conjunction with all-terrain capabilities, as long as we’re talking about the past, the present or the future of the Defender.
Details like zero to sixty, top speed or Nurburgring times are obviously completely irrelevant in this discussion. Unlike the Defender’s only remaining true competitor, the Mercedes -Benz G-Class, the DC100 doesn’t adhere to a monstrous supercharged V8, but to a somewhat eco-friendly and torquey two-liter diesel.
To provide a further nail in the Defender’s ruggedness coffin, the four-pot oil-burner is powering just the front wheels. Thanks to a switchable traction system, which physically decouples the rear driveshaft from the center differential, the DC100 apparently achieves potential fuel savings of up to seven per cent. Whoop-dee-doo! Well, at least a version of the acclaimed Terrain Response system also found its place among the many electronic nannies on board Land Rover’s latest concept.
Obviously, the fact that we’re talking about a one-off car should prohibit us from making any assumptions about the Land Rover DC100’s price. The actual vehicle present in the Frankfurt Auto Show spotlight might cost a heft five to ten million dollars, as that is the average production cost for almost any one-off concept car made by a known company.
Still, considering the DC100 will eventually spawn a production vehicle, namely the Defender’s 2015 replacement, we speculate it will have a similar price with the current car. Only time will prove us right or wrong, but we’re currently betting on a 30,000 to USD 40,000 price tag.
As we mentioned before, the only true competitor for the current Defender is the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. Obviously, at least for the time being, there is no similar G-Class concept car from the Stuttgart carmaker, but the current G-Wagen production is also sporting a 2015 expiration date. Sin ce from that year onwards the pedestrian safety regulations will no longer permit the selling of such an... let’s say obtuse type of off-roader, we can only assume that the G-Class will also spawn a more modern replacement.
Long story short, the 2015 G-Class replacement, along with current retro SUVs like the Toyota FJ Cruiser or the Jeep Wrangler are probably the only competition for this Land Rover. Time will tell if other iconic models will have “children” by the time the DC100 transforms into a production car in about four years.
It doesn’t try to mess the Defender recipe too much
Interior is just what you’d expect from a futuristic Defender
It also sports a version of the Terrain Response system
Exterior design could sport more traditional Land Rover elements
It’s normally uses just the front axle for traction, like any compact SUV
The 22 inch wheels look nice, but not for off-roading