New DC100 could appeal to traditional Defender owners and new customers who care about comfort, style and technology

Our Verdict

Land Rover Defender
The chassis and body are hugely strong and should last a lifetime. The detailing, such as the interior trim, is dreadful

The Land Rover Defender is an institution and unbeatable off road, if crude on it

4 March 2012

What is it?

The debate over how Land Rover should replace its venerable Defender rages on. The Land Rover Defender DC100 concept twins undoubtedly poured fuel onto the flames of this when they were unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show and now it's time to get behind the wheel of the most relevant of the two show cars, the fixed roof model. Can it offer more clues to how the 2015 Defender will turn out?

What's it like?

Parked up on a snowy piste in France the ruby red concept looks nothing short of dramatic. Many show cars look out of place away from the spotlights of the motor show, but the DC100 is right at home on the snow. The location of our drive somehow moves the concept closer to reality, and snow stuck in the grooves of the chunky off-road tyres serves to emphasise that.

The wheel-at-each corner stance seems more pronounced in the fixed roof model, and though some doubters liken the shape of the DC100 to the Skoda Yeti, it's unmistakably a Land Rover when you're standing next to it. Like the iconic Defender 90 it's relatively compact, though the show car is much wider than its predecessor.

That width makes itself known inside, where the two occupants have room to stretch out. You do step up into the car, but the seats are mounted right on the floor so overall it feels as if you sit lower than in the current Defender. Regardless, the upright windscreen and see-through C-pillars ensure that visibility is good.

Decent visibility is thought to be a basic requirement of the Defender's replacement and Land Rover cites several others, including industry leading approach and departure angles and an impressive wading depth. Since the first outing for the DC100 concepts there's been plenty of feedback and Land Rover is acutely aware that the new Defender must do everything the current one does, and more.

On one hand that means a chassis that can adapt to various body styles, from pick-up truck to open-topped safari wagon. It also means that the core vehicle must retain all of the current car's off-road ability, without resorting to fancy electronic sub-systems. And yet Land Rover's research team appears to have an arsenal of innovative technology ready to deploy that would make the vehicle not only more capable than ever, but also easier to extract that capability from.

Die-hard off-road enthusiasts may not like the sound of that, but murmurings from Land Rover suggest that this car would be available in many states, from the most basic to the highly advanced. And even possibly part-time four-wheel drive with an electric motor on one axle.

Our brief drive on compacted snow indicated that a car with this square footprint is a lot of fun. A quick steering rack and willing V8 petrol engine added to that for sure, but more importantly, the basics are in place already.

Should I buy one?

If Land Rover is incredibly clever it could conceivably create a new model that appeals both to the traditional Defender buyer and to the mass market that cares more about comfort, style and technology. The DC100 is a glimpse into that thought process and this drive further cements its relevance. Roll on 2015.

Shane O' Donoghue

Join the debate


5 March 2012

I'm sure it's bristling with clever off-road tech under the skin, but for my money it looks too chintzy and urban - and too Skoda Yeti-ish.

Needs to be less Victoria Beckham/Cheshire hairdresser's idea of ruffty-tuffy, more Judge Dread's.

5 March 2012

Well, without sitting in the driver's seat to assess space and pace, I like everything I'm seeing on the illustrations, including the Volvo derived honeycomb rear pillars for better vision. So far, so good.

Are all the instruments to be collectively on a screen, or only on the concept? Surely a vehicle designed to take the rough and tumble needs bullet-proof instrumentation, not those dependent on an ECU and a single screen?

5 March 2012

As well as Skoda Yeti, it seems to have a hint of Suzuki Swift from the front three-quarter view.

5 March 2012

[quote 6th.replicant]

I'm sure it's bristling with clever off-road tech under the skin, but for my money it looks too chintzy and urban - and too Skoda Yeti-ish.

Needs to be less Victoria Beckham/Cheshire hairdresser's idea of ruffty-tuffy, more Judge Dread's.


The same sort of though crossed my mind, it's too pretty! I am sure this is just something to do with the fact it is a concept and they are trying to make an impact with it but for me it makes the wrong sort of impact.

They'd do better producing something that looks like a work horse to help convince the old guard that they really can replace the original.



It's all about the twisties........

5 March 2012

Is it going to be available in North America, Canada in particular?

You can't buy the origin Defender here, something to do with engine emmissions. You can, of course, go out and buy a 6.7 litre diesel Ford pick-up truck... muppets.

5 March 2012

From what I can see this is moving in the right direction looks-wise. I'm sure that the model we see here is very 'dressed up', so a more basic, simplified version of this would still look good.

5 March 2012

I rather like that. It's very Yeti-esque, but still very Land Rover.

5 March 2012

I really like the look of the thing, and some of the clever details like the honeycomb rear pillars. But I just don't think it's a Defender replacement. If anything, it's more of a throwback to the original idea of the Discovery - very practical off-road, but more upmarket and sophisticated than a Defender.

If they really want to emphasise the practical aspect of it, then: paint it solid Keswick green, lose all the chrome, replace the show car wheels with steel 16" heavy duty wheels and a basic spare wheel holder, lose the sunroof, and so on. Show us the concept in its most basic and rugged form if it's supposed to replace the Defender. JLR have never built a Defender that looks like these concept cars, so why are they putting so much emphasis on style when the whole point of the Defender is that it's diametrically opposed to style over substance?

And let's hope they can make the new one more reliable in extreme conditions than the old one. So far, this offers no-one in harsh environments any reason to change back from their current Land Cruiser.

5 March 2012

They are though mucking us around a bit - I mean, 2015 is a long time to wait. I wonder whether they're having to roll out the new (re-aligned) Discovery first, see how the market takes to that, and then fine-tune the "Defender" accordingly. Can anyone else remember when the next Discovery is due?


5 March 2012

[quote disco.stu]But I just don't think it's a Defender replacement.[/quote]

I dont think that is the intention Discostu....I think the game has moved on too far now for L-R to ever get that market back (reliability is too compromised for a start) to get the rough/tough market back from Africa/Australia etc.

Anyway there is a lot more money to be made from Urban muppet wannabe's who will buy all the very expensive baubles to bling their Defander up...probably spray on mud too for the Kensington & Chelsea set!


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