Land Rover Chief Designer Gerry McGovern, who unveiled the new DC100 Concept to the Los Angeles Auto Show crowd, stressed that while the company is serious about building a new Defender, this particular concept may not be representative of the future production version. "The reality is that we're serious about putting this vehicle into production – not necessarily this design, but a Defender into production," he tells us. "It's one of several design studies under consideration at the moment."
It's apparent that McGovern's design team at Land Rover has struggled wrestling with rendering a modern day Defender that doesn't abandon the model's loyal followers. "Should it be evolutionary or should it be revolutionary? How much of the design cues based on the original functionality are relevant in a modern context? For us we feel it's important to recognize our past but not be harnessed by it. The retro trap is one we have to be very careful of. If you're too retrospective it can be a kiss of death."
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McGovern also stresses the need to create a Defender that is relevant to people's current needs and lifestyles. "When we think about the Defender replacement, we will redefine it for today's world," he tells us. "We want it to have great breadth, greater appeal to a wider group of consumers."
That's not to say that the next generation Defender will be watered-down. McGovern assures us that the future design will uphold the tradition of off-road prowess built up by past models. "This vehicle, when it comes out, will be incredibly capable," he says. "Make no doubt about that. It will be versatile, it will have real 4x4 capability, it will be a real working tool. It will be as hard as nails. It will be the real deal."
As if to reinforce that reality, the DC100 includes a new Wade Aid system to gird the truck for water crossings. The system includes bumper and side-mirror sensors that measure water depth, and Wade Aid prepares the vehicle for fording duty by raising ride height, closing external vents, pushing the transmission into low gear and suggesting a speed for the water crossing.
• Two concepts from Land Rover investigate potential future design direction for the Defender
• DC100 demonstrates the future of Land Rover versatility and capability
• Automatic, intelligent, next-generation Land Rover Terrain Response®
• Terrain-i device helps warn the driver of approaching off-road obstacles
• Wade Aid uses sonar technology to assess water depth
• Permanent four-wheel drive with an eight-speed transmission, Intelligent Stop/Start and a transfer case
• Driveline Disconnect physically decouples four-wheel drive to help save fuel
Land Rover's DC100 and DC100 Sport concepts investigate the potential design direction for a replacement for the iconic Defender. They will make their North American debut at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show on 16th November 2011. Land Rover is taking these concepts to North America to gauge reaction and explore the possibility of bringing the Defender back to the US market.
John Edwards, Land Rover Global Brand Director said: "The Defender has always been at the heart of the Land Rover Brand and single-handedly defines our go-anywhere, can-do sprit. Our ambition is to create an all new Defender for a global market that remains absolutely faithfully to its original DNA: tough, versatile, durable and capable. At the same time, it will be developed for the 21st century and adaptable for the needs of future generations.
Our intention is to introduce the all new Defender in the middle of the decade - there's a lot of work to do to meet these dates and our concepts are just the start of the journey. We are here in LA to showcase our DC100 and DC100 Sport concepts and start to actively explore the possibility of bringing the future Defender to North America."
Capturing the rugged, dependable and adventurous spirit of the original, the DC100 concepts are intended to showcase the potential breath of capability for the future Defender family. Evolved since their unveiling at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2011, the concepts now ride on optimised off-road 20-inch alloy wheels shod with Cooper all-terrain tyres. The DC100 also features expedition accessories with a raised air-intake 'snorkel' for wading and a roof rack.
Finished in the Land Rover signature combination of 'Heritage Blue' paint with a Candy Weiss white roof, the DC100 reinvents the essential Defender design cues for the 21st century. These include short overhangs for extreme approach and departure angles, vertical panels, an upright windscreen and strong shoulder line for visibility and ease of positioning and, of course, the honest Defender 'face' with its signature round lamps and prominent grille, incorporating a winch.
The DC100 Sport takes all these key design cues and adds to them the spirit of freedom first embodied by the early canvas-roofed Land Rovers with their fold-down windscreens to create a concept bursting with California cool.
Core Land Rover attributes of capability and versatility are underpinned in both concepts by a suite of innovative off-road technological aids that reduce the workload on the driver.
Foremost of these is the next generation of Land Rover's acclaimed Terrain Response system which will optimise the car for any conditions without driver pre-selection. In addition, a new Terrain-i system creates an intelligent map of the topography in front of the car and displays it as a 3D visualisation. Terrain-i automatically identifies potential hazards and suggests alternative routes. In urban environments the same system is able to identify pedestrians and hazards with great accuracy.
A new Wade Aid system utilises sonar sensors mounted in the bumpers and wing mirrors to measure water depth. As with Terrain Response, Wade Aid will optimise the car for water crossings by closing body vents, raising the ride height, selecting a low gear and advising on the safest speed.
Sustainability has always been a Land Rover hallmark - more than three-quarters of the almost two million Defenders made are still doing regular duty - and the DC100 concepts extend this commitment with new technologies that will reduce their environmental impact. The first is an intelligent Twin-Solenoid Stop/Start system mated to the latest eight-speed automatic gearbox, both of which have been designed with future hybridisation in mind. Second is the unique Driveline Disconnect system, which sends power to the front-axle only unless conditions demand all-wheel drive. Unlike conventional systems, this physically, rather than electronically, decouples the rear-axle to reduce friction losses but can reengage drive almost instantaneously.