News : Land Rover DC100 unveiled at Frankfurt

Matthew Hayward

The new DC100 looks good along side this early Series Land Rover, but does it have what it takes to replace the Defender?

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 No matter how outdated the Defender may be, when people hear the name Land Rover they picture the Defender.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…


It’s influences are clear, and McGovern’s team has obviously done a good job in making the DC100 a viable next step from the current Defender, but could it ever be as rugged in this new-age form?

DC100 Sport

Clearly more of a sporting pickup than the standard DC100, missing the winch and tow-hooks of the standard car, gaining a lower roof-line and  stylish load-bay.





  1. I must admit as snazzy as it looks I cant see the MOD ordering a fleet of these to replace their current Land Rover lineup. I just cant picture a military version

  2. I’m trying to imagine it in white with a ladder rack with two large ladders on it. Or with a hoist/cherry picker on the back. I work for a electricity utility company who do buy quite a few Defenders.
    As a whole I like it.

  3. Will the MOD ever buy many vehicles like this again anyway? They simply aren’t heavily armoured enough.

    So Land Rover’s Defender must adapt and this is the right direction.

  4. Yup, the influences are clear at that – build box, with doors, attach to smaller rectangular box, add wheels – stick the front end of the futurama were-car on it – pub o’clock. Its lucky the futurama writers dont work for apple, JLR would be sued for look and feel in seconds.
    There were so many things they could have done, and this is what they managed. Truly a product of the age, where progress means the kiss principle (Keep It Simple for Stupid) and eureka is the new ‘duh?’. Welcome to the brave new fondlebrick world – good luck with that.

    St Steve Jobs has a lot to answer for.

    “I dont wanna die yet, there’s still too much I dont own…”

  5. Yup, the influences are clear at that – build box, with doors, attach to smaller rectangular box, add wheels – stick the front end of the futurama were-car on it – pub o’clock. Its lucky the futurama writers dont work for apple, JLR would be sued for look and feel in seconds.
    There were so many things they could have done, and this is what they managed. Truly a product of the age, where progress means the kiss principle (Keep It Simple for Stupid) and ‘duh’ is the new eureka. Welcome to the brave new fondlebrick world – good luck with that.

    St Steve Jobs has a lot to answer for.

    “I dont wanna die yet, there’s still too much I dont own…”

  6. Looks nice but can’t see many utilty companies,charities or any other customer who requires a tough easy to fix 4×4. que more sales lost to toyota and the likes. I know that Land Rover is doing well for itself but its losing its roots. The one car in their range that could have kept them grounded. First they make a 2 wheel drive??? car and now this. Could they not have made something like a hilux/L200/ VW amorok, somthing like that would be more like it!

  7. Some of the comments already posted highlight that any successor to the current Defender must be adaptable in its function, not just form. The current Defender with its three platform sizes and ability to offer at least three different bodystyles on each one, is a very important quality.

    But then, so are the needs of the Ministry of Defence, forestry commission, utility companies, farmers… These are customers where Land Rover has lost some of its presence to in the past few years, and which it ideally needs to claw back with a creditible proposition.

    Looks are of course completely subjective, although I can’t say I find these propositions retaining what I would call a distinctive Land Rover silhouette. Then again they are design concepts, not an actual indication of how the final production design might ultimately look.

  8. Overall, I like the look of the car.

    A few more practical touches could quite easily be added.

    On the second photo, the current Defender in the background makes me think the frontal styling of the DC100 should be altered make it more obviously Defender.

  9. The important thing will be to be able to export this against the HiLuxes and L200s. Looking like a Land Rover will really help, but it also needs to be tough and dependable. This looks good to me, but the real test isn’t about looking like a Defender

  10. I think the real solution is build it on girders, in India(!), bolt on panels and the ability to change its appearance with nothing more than a 1/2″ (sorry 13mm) spanner.

  11. Clearly LR need to lift the Defender’s game, but is this the vehicle to do it? Is it farm tough? Those fancy body-colour bumpers don’t look it to me. Can it be repaired at the roadside with a half-inch spanner and a pair of pliers? I’ve read that the Hilux is losing ground to Chinese utes all over the less developed world because it has become a bit too flash and complicated, and nowadays lacks that rural repairability that gave it market share previously the domain of the once unconquerable Landy.

    I guess it all comes down to the market that is out there these days. Perhaps there simply isn’t enough demand for a traditional LR anymore.

  12. Tbh plastic bumpers are probably more resilient than the steel ones these days, although self coloured like we see on the cross-over cars (Polo Dune, Megane Scenic, Streetwise etc) are a better choice than painted. Decent ABS bumpers will put up with a lot of stick before they break, although that will be down to how good the fixing lugs are. So long as they’re not those terrible foam filled things Ford used to use of course, they were as bad as the ez-crack Maestro ones!

    Of course if it’s too pretty for the developing world there is no reason why they wont shift production of the old Defender to india and stick an old engine in it. Much Like PSA still build Peugeot 504’s in Africa.

    As for the MOD. The Land-Rovers they buy now have little in common with the current civilian ones. The ‘Wolf’ has a different chassis, old series 3 style doors and is powered by an upgraded version of the old 300tdi engine i think. This is one reason why they’re only sold to military customers, because they don’t meet or need to meet the type approval that normal road cars do. So building Wolves along side a DC100 type vehicle wont be any different to what they do now.

    This is just a concept though, and i expect the finished article will differ greatly from this in practice. Looks like more of a styling mule to me. I would imagine the finished thing would be designed more like a van, where there is an obvious seam to the rear of the front doors to allow for chassis cab or pick-up versions.

    The photo of Hue and the DC100 is an obvious photoshop, and not a good one. Paint colours look fake (no reflections) and the shadows travel in different directions. Oh and unless the DC100 comes with a levitation feature which they’ve retro-fitted to Hue the lack of tyre tracks in the sand are a little give away.

  13. Please, no stupid concept cars with 20″ wheels and “urban warrior” looks!! buyers of defenders buy defenders to avoid such bulls#it!!! A simple, tough and reliable vehicle is what is needed to replace a simple tough and reliable vehicle, not a yuppyfied, urban cruiser, full of mega complicated, expensive and tempramental electrics, and £250 a piece low profile tyres etc…

  14. Looks good, but unlike the Jeep JK Wrangler, which has a seven-slat grille to link it stylistically to the CJ2A, there’s nothing about that face that to me says “Land Rover”. Could be a Nissan from the front.

  15. The more I look at it, the more pants it looks- and I like to think I’ll give most designs a chance. I really don’t understand the point. I’d much prefer a cut-and-shut Disco rather than this dressed up nonsense…

    On the upside though, The JLR engine plant will soon be opening up in Wolverhampton!!!!!!! GOOOOOOD TIMES!!!

  16. @Steve McGill: You read my mind. I’d like to see it on grey steel 13 inch wheels with a proper set of tyres. I’d also like to test drive it in my local deserts of Qatar so I could give AROnline a proper review *MASSIVE HINT ALERT*

  17. 13 inch wheels? Would they even fit over the brakes? The current one runs on 16 inch as standard. Actually when you think about it the 16 inch steel wheels are a key styling cue. They’ve not changed greatly in appearance since the 50’s. A carry over from being designed as a farm vehicle, they’re the old Tractor tyre size.

  18. It’s a show car, so I wouldn’t take it too seriously.

    A future Defender should
    Be rugged (like the current model)
    Be reliable (like a Land Cruiser)
    Pass western emissions and safety standards
    But be simple enough to fix with a few spanners when in the wilderness
    Look like a Land Rover
    But also look modern to attract non converts
    Have all the incredible versatility of the current model
    But also be cheaper to make

    Good luck JLR!

  19. I’d have thought something based around a pickup type chassis would work well and cheap to make. Refine it a bit and you’d be there I’d have thought. The yanks love pick ups and profit margins on these are pretty good.

    My trouble is I can’t figure out who actually buys a Defender these days? Too expensive and agricultural for Joe Public and nowhere near refined enough for Farmers who just drive Mazda B Series and Mitsubishi Warriers as far as I can see, at least round here.

  20. Problems I see with this are:

    1) It’s the spitting image of the Skoda Yeti
    2) LR said they wouldnt “Bling” it up to compete with RR but they have done exactly that with the “lifestyle” open top
    3) The show car should be dressed in full utilitarian gear, big tyres, no alloys, flat paint to really get the message across to the market the Defender lives in. The freelenader and above have the lifestyle market, so why does the Defender need to do that too, otherwise why have a defender at all?
    4) The variants displayed should have been fire truck, ambulance, mountain rescue, farm vehicle, military vehicle – NOT the bling stuff. If I want a comfortable blinged up off roader I would buy a Freelander/Discovery. Most people who want their car to look bling will be more than happy with the off road capabilities of those cars, anyone with serious off road intentions probably doesnt give a hoot how shiny the thing is.

  21. Oh, and another thing. The LAND ROVER lettering on the bonnet should be replaced with DEFENDER, as with the current car and this also helps to distinguish it from the mainstream LAND ROVER cars, otherwise, you have to do a double take just to be sure it’s not a Freelander etc.

  22. How can there be a ‘Sport’ Defender? It’s replacing a utility vehicle, but LR thinks it can fill all the market niches with all models, so in trying to be everything it makes it’s true purpose hazy and therefore confuses potential purchasers about what it’s meant to do.

    I’m not a fan of LR, but the basic concept of the original Defender is right, so why try and make it a fashion accesory? If it ain’t broke…

  23. I think there still needs to be a market for self-fixable, rugged farm vehicles that you aren’t afraid to scratch or stick livestock in the back of – I suspect this new venture will increase the second-hand defender market significantly! At least they’ll still be a plentiful sight for many years to come.

  24. “How can there be a ‘Sport’ Defender?”

    They did one in the early 90’s it had fair success in the US as a rival to the Jeep Wrangler. It came with posh seats, a V8 and a soft top. Obviously being a soft top you wont see many in the uk!

    You could also argue that the Tombraider LE was a sport defender. There is a market for people who want one as a car, although if they stray too far from the utilitarian base model then that market might evaporate.

  25. Why do people not understand that this car will never be a true replacement for the Defender as the BMW Mini was not a replacement for the original Mini. The current Defender, like the original Mini are one off’s. The new cars will have design features of the originals but that is all and will develop their own fan base.

  26. [QUOTE]Couldn’t imagine an armoured version being deployed by the PSNI at summertime.[/QUOTE]
    Aye, it’ll be impossible to control the summer Orange marches now

  27. @Dennis – You are referring to the NAS 90 – the North American Specification Defender 90 that featured the 3.9-litre V8 engine, 16-inch ‘Tornado’ style alloy wheels, special canvas soft-top roof designed by Tickford (although it was soon redesigned by another party) and a range of high impact colours such as AA Yellow.

    The influence of the NAS 90 lead to a limited edition Defender 90 SV for the UK market with similar features, although there was a 200 TDI engine under the bonnet, Caprice Turquoise metallic paint finish and a full roll-cage. Land Rover France would later build on the soft-top concept further for that market.

    The Americans loved the NAS 90 and not even the introduction of automatic transmission in approximately 1996 diluted its appeal.

    Also consider the 2008 Defender SVX limited edition as a more ‘sporty’ looking Defender derivative.

    A ‘Sport’ Defender may not have mass appeal but that does not stop them from selling and attracting new buyers to Defender ownership.

  28. Looking at those pictures again, it seems strange in a clean sheet, fantasy concept vehicle, to feature frontal styling so similar to the current Freelander, a vehicle with nothing in common with the Defender (apart from it’s engine perhaps)!

  29. The pointlessly large bonnet is bigger than the pick-up area and the enormous wheels look ridiculous. It’s a real exercise in style over substance but with a flawed style – an exaggerated expression of the fat-fronted look started by the original Audi TT.

    I hope that Land Rover don’t make the mistake of replacing an icon with a fad!

  30. @ Ramsey MGR

    “I hope that Land Rover don’t make the mistake of replacing an icon with a fad!”

    Brilliant comment, I’d email that to LR!!

  31. Leslie – good point. Where are the Alpine Windows? Surely an essential styling link to the current car. In fact, overall, the proportions and overall shape are good but the detailing needs to reflect the original far more.

  32. I always thought the Defender wears its dents and scratches well: almost to the point that the more battle-scars it has, the more desirable it is. However, while the new DC100 (sounds like an electrical spec) looks fine, one scratch and it’ll be ruined!

  33. Grey one has an unhappy Soviet look about it. A tad disappointing.

    Why a droopsnoot when the Disco can have a vertical face? Why blacked out pillars, they’re a Range Rover feature.

    Why can’t the designer’s be really radical and just stick some cheap, simple round lights on it?

    As for alpine lights, I think they’re now illegal – the Disco’s are just cosmetic.

  34. Why of course! Project Icon was not to create an icon but to kill an icon! Throw out absolutely everything unique behind the undisputable success of the product, create a cute fast-food-4×4, give it the name of a real icon and wait for the Rupee to flow! What marketing genius ever came up with this clever idea? As you Brits say, “Smashing”! Really, why did I expect anything else? It’s so easy to ride on the shoulders of greatness.
    My first impulse was like most of you to criticize everything point by point. But what would be the point? Sadly, but proudly though, I believe we must assume that the icon has become a memorable part of engineering history. I for one would prefer an honorable harakiri than life as a Big Mac in a Styrofoam box. Please, call it anything else you like, but not a Defender!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.