An evolved, more rugged version of the Land Rover Defender DC100 concept will be shown off at the Los Angeles motor show today.
The revisions – which include optimised off-road 20-inch alloy wheels shod with Cooper all-terrain tyres and expedition accessories such as a raised air-intake 'snorkel' for wading and a roof rack – have been made to assert the go-anywhere looks and off-road credibility of the Land Rover Defender DC100 concept, which will appear alongside the open-topped DC100 Sport at Los Angeles.
Land Rover wants to return the new Defender to its roots and connect with the third world. Land Rover boss John Edwards told Autocar that the new 4x4 “must be capable, usable and abusable and appropriate for the third world market.”
As well the DC100s at Los Angeles, Land Rover had another variant at the recent Dubai motor show that featured all-terrain wheels and tyres better suited to desert driving.
Edwards wants to assert the off-road cred of the new Defender after criticism that the first two DC100 concepts focused on ‘lifestyle’.
“Sometimes we talk too much about Californian surfer dudes and not enough about the Red Cross, Zambia or the Australian Outback,” said Edwards. “If we happen to be able to sell it in California as well that’s nice, but that’s not the most important bit for us.”
Both concepts feature a suite of off-road technological aids aimed at reducing the workload on the driver. These include Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, which optimises the car for any conditions without driver pre-selection.
In addition, a new Terrain-i system creates a map of the topography in front of the car, identifies potential hazards and suggests alternative routes. A new Wade Aid system utilises sonar sensors mounted in the bumpers and wing mirrors to measure water depth and optimise the car for water crossings.
The Land Rover DC100 concepts also feature an intelligent twin-solenoid stop/start system mated to the latest eight-speed automatic gearbox and a ‘driveline disconnect’ system, which sends power to the front-axle only unless conditions demand all-wheel drive.
Edwards has developed a three-pronged brand strategy, focusing on utility, leisure and luxury. While the new Range Rover will place the emphasis on luxury, the Defender will maximise the utility. According to Edwards, this strategy will allow Land Rover to develop “a whole family of vehicles” catering to different needs.
It also leaves the door open to the continuation of the existing Defender models when the new 100 model goes on sale in 2015. Autocar understands that the existing Defender can comply with emissions and crash legislation up to 2017.