Land Rover pulled the covers off a Sport version of its ‘New Defender’ concept, in addition to the DC100 previewed in the lead up to Frankfurt, supporting the announcement that it plans to replace the current Defender in 2015. The launch of a new off-roader will coincide with the incoming Euro 6 regulations, which will pretty much render the Defender unsaleable within the EU, and as it’s already unavailable in the United States due to ever-tightening emission and crash regulations, something clearly needs to be done.
Replacing such a highly respected and loved British icon is a tough step for the company, almost reminiscent of what Rover, and subsequently BMW, had to deal with when launching the MINI back in 2000. No matter how outdated the Defender may be, when people hear the name Land Rover they picture the Defender.
Without this truly utilitarian, farm-ready vehicle in it’s model line-up, the brand could lose the market-sector altogether, focusing purely on its much more profitable premium Range Rover brand. Sales of the current Defender are slow, production is painstakingly complicated and expensive, so unless something is done to revitalise the model soon, it could be lost forever.
But… Land Rover is not prepared to let it die just yet, and has officially confirmed that they are working on several possible projects to keep Defender alive. The DC100 is just one, and it’s not by any means a production ready concept car. It’s simply a way to ‘test the water’, probing public opinion on the idea of a cutting-edge modern day Defender.
Both concepts seen here were overseen by Land Rover’s Design Director, Gerry McGovern, who was keen to emphasise that design can work in harmony with function. LR insists that any Defender replacement will be as capable over rough ground as it’s predecessor, but a lot more at home on the road. The fact that the DC100 has been displayed in two different forms also indicates that any new Defender stemming from this project will be designed around a lightweight modular platform, available in seemingly infinite combinations…