Land Rover's upcoming Defender takes the stage in DC100 concept form
Land Rover's global icon, the Defender, is due for a remake - and we have the details inside.
Though only sold in limited quantities over a handful of sporadic years in North America, Land Rover 's Defender - a direct descendant of the first 1948 Land Rover - continues to thrive in many markets across the world.
Based heavily on the T5 steel platform chassis currently used in the Range Rover Sport and LR4, it is suggested that the Defender replacement will be capable of meeting the ever-stricter emissions and safety laws that have spelled doom for the Defender as U.S. laws outlawed the sale of new Defenders beginning in 1997 due to the lack of airbags.
The chassis will allow the next-generation rig is expected to be offered in a multitude of bodystyles, including hard- and soft-top variants and a utilitarian pickup style. For now, Land Rover has presented us with a pair of concepts which share the name of DC100. Both trucks are design studies for a new generation of the Defender, a hard-core off-roader that has been the backbone of the Land Rover brand for more than 50 years.
The DC100 concepts represent what Land Rover calls a "modern interpretation" of the iconic Defender. Penned under the watch of design chief Gerry McGovern, the DC100 variants clearly depart from the current Defender in a number of ways - like their much larger wheels and almost vintage Ford Bronco-like side profiles.
The roofless Sports Concept echoes canvas-roofed Defenders of the past and features a chopped, wrap-around windshield and what look like rollover protectors mounted over the seat headrests.
Land Rover says that a new Defender will launch in 2015, and while the automaker hasn't released many details, the next-generation off roader will have to be quite a bit different to meet increasingly stringent global safety and emissions regulations. Land Rover isn't commenting on North American availability, although the British brand hasn't officially ruled out such a possibility.
For now, Land Rover is keeping quiet on just what platform the concept cars ride on, though it does say it's a lightweight, mixed-alloy unit. Our guess for the production Defender is a stripped down, toughened version of the LR4"²s platform. Both concepts share an eight-speed automatic transmission. The hardtop variant is powered by a torquey diesel four cylinder, while the roofless Sport Concept has a gas-powered four pot. Both engines displace two liters and are hybrid ready, according to Land Rover.
As for off road capability, the DC100 concepts rely more on high tech features like Land Rover's sophisticated Terrain Management system than the big rubber and articulating solid axles of the current model (the concepts have 22-inch wheels outfitted with low-profile tires). That's a trick that has worked well for those few LR4s and Range Rovers that venture off the pavement, so it combines well with the DC100s' approach and departure angles to make for surprisingly adept performers.
Helping to keep the DC100s moving through the rough stuff is an off-road terrain scanning device that detects potential obstacles as well as a sonar depth-sounder for fording through rivers.
For worst case scenarios, Land Rover has chosen equip both trucks with a built-in winch.
Beverly Hills facelift
For their visit to Southern California for the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show, the two concepts received a light makeover.
The DC100 hardtop gets a new Heritage Blue paint job with a Candy Weiss white roof. Revised 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Cooper all-terrain tires complete the look, while some additional accessories geared at off roaders - like a snorkel (pictured in the official photography but missing from the show car) and a roof rack - further what Land Rover calls its "expedition" abilities.
Expect the LR4"²s 195 horsepower 2.7-liter diesel V6, which isn't currently offered in North America, to be the standard powertrain in the next-generation Defender for global markets. If the model is earmarked for North American consumption, the advanced 5.0-liter V8 developed with Jaguar used in the LR4 and Range Rover Sport seems like a match made in heaven.