2011 Frankfurt: Land Rover Defender concepts blaze a 21st-century trail

Consumer Reports News: September 13, 2011 10:28 AM

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Land Rover has unveiled the DC100 concepts at the Frankfurt motor show, previewing a next-generation Defender that is scheduled to blaze trails in 2015. Big news for off-road enthusiasts, a new Defender comes along so rarely, some have wondered if there would be a redesigned model. And now the question is, will it come to the United States?

Two concepts were shown, a DC100 and DC100 Sport. Both decidedly 21st-century vehicles are based on a lightweight platform that explores the use of high-tech materials. Numerous technologies are showcased, such as Terrain-i, a scanning system that can warn of obstacles and suggest alternative routes. Wade Aid measures water depth with sonar to aid in fording streams. Going into a sci-fi realm, the DC100 also demonstrates tire spikes that can be deployed by the driver.

The DC100 concepts feature a permanent four-wheel-drive system motivated by either a 2.0-liter gasoline or diesel engine paired to an eight-speed transmission. Both engines are part of a hybrid system.

The Defender has been a British motoring icon for 60 years, much like with Jeep Wrangler here in the States, with a key difference—it has changed very little through the years. Offered in several distinct configurations over time, the Defender has served military duty, transported adventurers, and worked farms. For off-roaders, its purpose-built simplicity gives it appeal, and for well-heeled Anglophiles, it has served as the equivalent of driving a civilian Hummer.

These concepts promise to leapfrog the Defender into a new century, but will it be too much of a departure for legions of fans, or just the right mix to garner a fresh audience? Time will tell.

See our Land Rover LR2, LR4, and Range Rover Sport road tests.


Jeff Bartlett

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