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

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

Add a comment…
rogerhudson 1 February 2017

Land Rover 'defender' future

It's now 2017 and we've still not seen a proper pre-production vehicle, perhaps we never will ( they just can't manage it).
trickii 14 July 2016

New Defender options

Think new concept? Why the defender has it all developed and rugged modular vehicle for arm contracts.This is a new category called a life style vehicle not an SUV an area Mercades is updating the Defender's competitor the GWagon.

What options do Landrover have.

Assemble this vehicle as kits outside the EU..a very popular option as it requires no hi tech manufacturing.

Design another aluminum body concept to be easily assembled at low cost to fit on existing running gear...very popular thought.

Design a new defender at high cost and time penalties...not popular..however to beat the GWagon the new vehicle should simply be a road going modified light version of the successful foxhound the replacement for the snatch landrover. Answers tend to be easy when and if you actually recruit the right management at Landrover !!

Compromise engineer,lighten and despected the outgoing discovery 4 with similar ladder chassis..many like this idea as well.

You here first from the experts!

Mike in Bath 9 October 2013


That Sat Nav touch screen is is a bit mucky. However, I actually like the overall design of the car. Replacing an iconic car is always going to divide opinion but it would seem JLR can't win; they get slated for years for not progressive enough designs so they change their design language and now get slating for making cars too pretty. Pretty or not, this will be brilliant off road, after all it is a Land Rover, it is almost like saying Volvo's next car will not be safe!