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Land Rover unveiled two new Land Rover Defender concepts at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. The reaction from the public was extreme, not unlike the concepts that Land Rover are bringing to the market like this DC100 and the Range Rover Evoque. Any changes to the 60+ year old Land Rover Defender are always going to be difficult and not easily accepted by the hardcore Defender owner.
The question is not can Land Rover replace the existing Defender with something better, but rather how must they do it and what should it do and look like. Clearly Land Rover has the capability, their 60+ year track record tells you that. The DC100 concept vehicles are a very realistic exploration and discussion starter for this process going forward. Unlike most other concept vehicles that never leave the auto show stage the DC100 and DC100 sport are out there for people so see touch and if lucky drive. If there was a recommended method for Land Rover to follow to develop the new Defender then you have to agree that this would be it. Complete engagement and input with the market to make sure that they get as much right as possible as they bring the Defender into the 21st century. Subsequent to this concept vehicle revealed in 2011, Land Rover launched the Land Rover Discovery 5 which is actually using alot of the technology that was presented in this concept, this indicates that this concept is not that far off the real thing.
"The entire Land Rover team is excited about the opportunity, and the responsibility, of creating the replacement for the iconic Land Rover Defender. Loved the world over for its simple, honest and distinctive design, we are determined that the new Defender will be true to its heritage while meeting the requirements of a changing global market. We plan to engage with existing and potential customers to help us finalise the details of the new vehicle. One thing's for sure, it's going to be an exciting journey, and we can't wait to get going." - John Edwards, Global Brand Director, Land Rover.
For more than six decades, Land Rover has been designing and building 4x4s that define capability, versatility and usability. Like no other vehicle, Defender inspires affection and loyalty the world over. It is the original reconfigurable vehicle, inspiring people to go beyond whether they are explorers, ecologists, UN aid workers or Red Cross medics.
From just two core platforms, Defenders have, over the years, been put to every task and reconfigured in every way, from fire engines to tracked exploration vehicles. The only limit to a Defender's ability is the imagination of its owners, one of the many reasons that an estimated three-quarters, of the nearly two million Defenders built, are still in regular use.
The next chapter in the Defender story opened at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. The two DC100 concepts unveiled there will build on the essential elements of Defender's character and allow Land Rover to open the debate and inspire people to dream about the Defenders of the future.
Two modern interpretations of the iconic Land Rover make their debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. Both concepts capture the adventurous, daring, indomitable spirit of Land Rover. This spirit was established in 1948 by the Series 1, the first mass-produced civilian 4x4, which swiftly earned a global reputation for itself, for British engineering and for the Land Rover name.
The DC100 and DC100 Sport concepts preview a potential future direction for Land Rover. There is no doubt these concepts demonstrate that this world-famous and well-loved brand is firmly focused on the future, and is one that recognises its heritage but does not allow it to impede innovation.
The four key elements of Land Rover Design are again evident, but with a different tonality:
Every Land Rover design starts with great proportions, and these concepts are no exception. Short front and rear overhangs, four-square stance, Command driving position and superb ground clearance are fundamental design elements that give these vehicles their unique character and capability. The exterior surface language is all about simplicity and strength, with a strong shoulder running the full length of the vehicle and defining the corners.
The interiors have been developed to have a uniquely Land Rover feel. A sense of open space is created by the low centre console and the strong chamfers on the instrument panel elegantly integrating into the A-pillar structure. The design has an inherent flexibility; for example the central instruments can be removed from the vehicle and used outside for continued 'on foot' navigation or to capture remote explorations on film, through inbuilt cameras.
All these features are common to both DC100 and DC100 Sport. The former is the epitome of tough durability whilst the latter then takes this philosophy and extends it into new territory. This exciting combination of go anywhere capability and adaptability results in concepts fit for all lifestyle choices.
Replacing a true automotive icon, these two concepts are intended to explore the potential future design language that takes the open and honest character and timeless simplicity of the original and updates them for the 21st Century.
The concepts are based on the same advanced mixed-alloy underpinnings with a 100-inch wheelbase and represent the flexibility of design and use inherent in this very capable platform. An eight-speed transmission with integrated Intelligent Stop/Start and a transfer case provides a wide spread of high and low ratios for on and off-road driving.
Also showcased is the next generation of Land Rover's world-leading, all-terrain technology. Building on the acclaimed Terrain Response system, these will work seamlessly together to reduce the workload on the driver by identifying potential hazards and advising on safe routes to avoid them. An advanced telematics programme unites the systems and allows vehicle to smartphone communication.
"These could not be designs from any other company. Defender became a global icon because of the integrity of both its design and engineering. In creating these concepts we took the functional design cues from the past and reinterpreted them for the 21st century. These studies represent our thoughts on how we will forge an entirely new generation of Defender models which will prove that design can work in harmony with function." Gerry McGovern, Design Director, Land Rover.
Land Rover has a design integrity that stretches back more than 60 years. Reinventing and reinvigorating that design ethos is a challenge that has been met in very different ways by the two concepts, each of which represents different points on the Land Rover spectrum.
The bodywork below the waist reflects the Land Rover practice of avoiding extraneous detailing by following the principle of design working in harmony with function, leading to a purposeful simplicity of surface. The sharply defined shoulder line and near vertical panels of the concepts place all four corners within sight of the driver, to create Land Rover's hallmark confidence-inspiring Command driving position.
Compact dimensions, short overhangs and 22-inch alloy wheels lend both all-terrain concepts a fittingly purposeful, four-square stance. Further detailing common to both concepts - such as the triangular vent in the front wings, the bonnet edges set into the shoulder line and the prominent handle set into the trailing edge of the doors - also reference existing Land Rovers.
There is arguably no other car in the world that inspires such loyalty and affection as a Land Rover, from the original Series 1 to today's Defender. Crucial to that appeal is the front-end design and DC100 Sport and DC100 represent the latest evolution of the Defender face that has retained its timeless appeal for 60 years.
The key elements were a sense of openness and honesty; as a vehicle used in the most extreme conditions, a Land Rover must exude dependability. This is seen to greatest effect in DC100 with its signature twin round headlamps and purposeful grille. DC100 Sport represents a more assertive, performance-oriented interpretation of this classic Land Rover look.
The radically different design treatments above the waist demonstrate the modularity and flexibility of the platform. The shape of DC100 is instantly recognisable to generations and, like the original Land Rover and the Defender that followed it, looks equally at home alongside an English village green as traversing an Icelandic lava field.
As a dependable all-terrain workhorse, DC100 firmly emphasises the practical side of Land Rover. The upright windscreen provides excellent visibility on and off-road while the interchangeable rear cover allows for either maximum cargo capacity or transporting additional passengers. A winch, capable of supporting the weight of the car, is neatly integrated into the front grille and towing eyes have been built into each corner of the concept.
As a further extension of its capabilities, the DC100 roof is equipped with solar panels to power on-board systems, reducing the load on the engine and lowering emissions. The DC100 exterior is painted in soft metallic silver specifically intended to reflect the sun's rays, keeping the interior cool in hot climates and reducing the demands on the climate-control system.
With DC100 Sport, Land Rover has created a unique concept that occupies its own territory. It takes its cue from the early canvas-roofed Defenders with their fold-down windscreens that still typify the Land Rover spirit of adventure and exploration.
Reimagined as a performance concept for the 21st century, it features a wrap-around aero screen and cut-down side windows for exhilarating open-air motoring. Flowing back from the seats is a twin-humped fastback roofline that encloses a generous load bed that includes fittings designed to secure extreme sports equipment.
The DC100 Sport is finished in an exhilarating metallic amber that echoes the vibrant ochre hues found in Africa; eye-catching whether exploring mountain tracks, breezing along a beach or cruising through town.
Functionality and usability are two key characteristics of Land Rover interiors, the position and logic of every control should be obvious the moment the driver enters. The concepts take this premise and address it in a truly contemporary way. The form and function of the concepts are visually integrated in the interior layout; the door structure flows into the cabin before forming an elegant beam running the width of the dash. This means that the concepts can recreate the Series 1 three-abreast seating layout.
This seating arrangement, as well as creating a more social vehicle, extends its versatility. The passenger seat can be folded out of the way to increase carrying capacity. The middle seat conceals a large secure storage area while in front of it is a machined aluminium tray which contains induction charging technology to power electronic devices. This innovative layout is particularly space-efficient, allowing for integrated storage areas both above and below the central beam and for the gearlever to be mounted on the centre console. This reduces the time the driver's hand is away from the wheel while changing gear, increasing control during off-road or high-speed driving.
Like the original Land Rovers, the DC100 concepts have a central instrument binnacle mounted above the gear lever. Combining the informatics functions of an instrument panel with an intuitive touchscreen interface, the unit is backed by powerful telematics technology that co-ordinates the ground-breaking technologies to be found in these concepts.All of the concepts' functions can be controlled via this interface, using a combination of swipe and press gestures on the touchscreen. The steering wheel includes four shortcut keys that reconfigure the touchscreen to control functions such as navigation, audio and climate.
The control unit is removable from the concepts to extend its functionality. Finished in shock and water-resistant silicon and equipped with its own power source, camera and satellite connectivity, this allows it to be used as a portable navigation tool with an internal hard drive that can record waypoints, HD video footage and stills images.
The cabins of both concepts have been finished with materials that share certain rugged, durable qualities. All these have been chosen for their sustainability both in terms of composition and manufacture, such as seat foam derived from castor oil, a first for a European manufacturer, and semi-structural panels and sound insulating boards made from flax and natural polymers.
Taking its cue from technical sportswear, DC100 uses the latest generation of performance materials to create an interior of premium quality that is adaptable and hardwearing. The beam running the width of the cabin, door panels and seat bolsters are trimmed in Obsidian Grey and Carbon Black Ultrafabric, a technical cloth found on designer furniture and super yachts. Ultrafabric is not only antimicrobial, water-repellent, breathable and resistant to solar ageing, it is also PVC-free, low in volatile organic compounds and lightweight, making it a very sustainable product.
Complementing this is Superfabric, an almost indestructible textile with a premium feel. Normally found in protective clothing for extreme environments, including spacesuits - DC100 uses it on the seat cushions and to line the footwells and rear load space. The base fabric is 100 per cent recycled and the printed plate is made of eco-friendly non-toxic materials. Aluminium also features extensively and as a trim material, such as the drains in the fully washable rear load bed, it is made of 100 per cent recycled metal.
DC100 Sport achieves the same singularity of purpose with a mixture of ultra-modern and traditional materials. The seats are trimmed in the original protective material; leather, with a lightweight, breathable mesh insert in a bold Tribal Tech pattern. The hide, itself a by-product, is sourced from Bridge of Weir, a Scottish company with impeccable environmental credentials that make it 97 per cent self-sufficient. The hide is covered with a 3D-textured mesh that alternately reveals and hides the Tribal Tech pattern.
The Tribal pattern is repeated on the floor of DC100 Sport where floor mats are made of Ombrae, a sculptural medium used in art installations and modern architecture. This dynamic 3D material changes its appearance through the use of light and shadow, depending on the angle from which it is viewed. The same pattern is also echoed in the hand-cut Pirelli tyres.
The concepts outward modularity is repeated in the interior where the door canisters can be configured according to requirements with options ranging from portable barbecue sets to field first-aid kits. This inclusion of technology extends to the rear of the two concepts with cutting-edge features in the fully configurable load spaces. Down the centre of each is an aluminium inductive charging strip which in the DC100 Sport is used to either chill or heat a removable compartment, perfect for picnics on the beach or hot drinks on the slopes, while the remaining space has been designed to accommodate three kite surf boards.
In DC100 the inductive strip can be used to charge a range of power tools on the move, with supplementary equipment carried in flanking canisters. A further charging area to one side is used in DC100 Sport for charging a bespoke removable speaker system from audio specialists Meridian that wirelessly streams music from concept to cabana. In DC100 this feature can be used to charge communication equipment or laptops.
These two concepts showcase the next generation of technologies that will extend Land Rover's reputation for legendary all-terrain prowess and 365 day-a-year usability. As with any Land Rover, both DC100 designs have towing and load-carrying capabilities that exceed expectations but use two different and well-proven Land Rover suspension systems specifically tailored to their distinct performance parameters.
DC100 uses a development of the existing air suspension system that allows ride height to be altered by up to 320mm for extreme approach and departure angles, axle articulation and ground clearance. The DC100 Sport's performance remit sees it use the third-generation MagneRide adjustable suspension for sports car like on-road handling while losing little in all-terrain ability.
Powerful new off-road tools will extend the capabilities of the much-praised Land Rover Terrain Response programme to allow it to automatically optimise the concepts for any environment without driver pre-selection. The system combines data from sensors that assess suspension travel, steering angle, wheel slip and braking and acceleration inputs to allow the vehicle to react by continuously and unobtrusively altering spring, damper, gearing and power delivery parameters.
Terrain Response on the DC100 concepts also features High-Definition cameras mounted on the front to analyse the visual spectrum of the ground ahead. This is then compared to images stored within a predictive neural network and allows the system to visually determine, for example, the difference between sand, grass, mud, gravel, snow and asphalt. Terrain Response can then actively alter the off-road performance parameters.
Acting as an early-warning system is the state-of-the-art Terrain-i mapper that creates a virtual 3D visualisation of the ground ahead and displays it on the central touchscreen. Similar to systems used by fighter pilots, Terrain-i uses a headlamp-mounted scanner that runs complex algorithms to assess the route ahead and warn the driver of obstacles potentially too large to be safely negotiated.
Instead Terrain-i will suggest alternatives, displaying the safe route on the central screen. Cameras mounted on each corner of the concepts, giving the driver a 360-degree field of vision of the immediate vehicle environs, supplement the system. Terrain-i also plays a vital support role to the driver in crowded urban environments where the intelligent 3D scanner can identify pedestrians and other hazards with far greater accuracy than current systems. This can initially warn the driver and, if avoiding action is not taken, safely stop the vehicle.
Land Rover has developed a sonar-based system for assessing water depth that allows the driver to make informed decisions as to whether to proceed into flooded areas. The system utilises sensors mounted in the bumpers and wing mirrors. These are able to measure depth and by working in conjunction with inclinometers recognise whether the level is increasing or decreasing. All this information is displayed in an intuitive graphic on the central touchscreen.
The system will also automatically optimise the concept for a water crossing by raising the ride height, closing body vents, selecting a lower gear to maintain engine revs and advising on the optimum speed for the depth of water, allowing a maximum wading depth of 750mm.
Further allowing the concepts to adjust to changing conditions is a driver-deployable spiked tyre system. This is operated by an electro-mechanical system mounted within the tyre on the inside of the wheel; activation of the technology causes air to inflate a secondary air chamber, filling pods moulded into the tread of the tyre which contain the spikes. The spikes rise just above the tread surface and fix into place for driving on packed snow and ice. When conditions have eased, the spikes can be retracted, obviating the need to carry two sets of tyres or snow chains.
Underpinning these systems is a powerful telematics programme that seamlessly integrates many of the vehicle functions and presents information to the driver in the clearest, most straightforward manner. In addition to this, the telematics allow communication between the concepts and a smartphone or laptop, letting the owner to check everything from the tyre pressures to the cabin temperature and, for instance, operate the climate control remotely. In addition, the telematics system can store data from every one of the car's journeys and download them for comparison. So, for instance, information from the Wade Aid system could chart changes in water depth or data from the traction control could be used to assess the rate of terrain erosion. The system also has full on-the-move connectivity via 3G and satellite and can deliver not just traffic alerts but also weather warnings for remoter areas.
Land Rover prides itself on offering solutions to everyday as well as extraordinary situations. Land Rover has adopted Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to increase the accessibility, usability and security of the concepts. The concepts come with a set of RFID chips built into impact and water resistant items such as wristbands and watches. These allow the main key fob to be left in a slot in the glovebox, which deactivates it and transfers its lock and unlock functions to the rugged RFID chip. Once the system is armed and the car secured, only that specific RFID smart tag will allow it to be unlocked and reactivate the key fob. Future developments of the system will allow each family member to have their own smart tag, which would save their personal audio, climate, communication and seating settings. This would also allow parents to restrict vehicle power and speed when their children used it. Third-generation smart tags could also include biometric data that would use facial systems to increase security.
Extending the DC100 Sport's capabilities in the urban environment is a Park Assist system, which parallel parks the concept with minimal input from the driver. Sensors scan the side of the road to select a suitably sized space. If the driver confirms the selection, the DC100 Sport can then reverse into the space, performing all the steering functions automatically while the driver retains control over the brakes and accelerator.
Land Rover is actively researching the next generation of powertrains appropriate to the extreme uses and environmental challenges to which its cars are put. In association with research centres, suppliers and universities, the company is looking at a wide range of options to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
The eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, with Intelligent Stop/Start fitted to the two concepts represents the first stage in Land Rover's programme to introduce suitable, sustainable technology. Designed with future hybridisation in mind, the gearbox utilises the Twin Solenoid Starter system that offers considerable benefits over more conventional Stop/Start technologies such as the ability to restart the engine during its rundown phase. The addition of a transfer case for a wide spread of ratios and wheel-mounted paddles for manual selection allow for great control both on and off road.
Both concepts are powered by variations of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. The go-anywhere DC100 is diesel-powered for maximum mud-plugging torque while the more performance-biased DC100 Sport is petrol-powered for a sportier drive. Both engines are capable of being configured as parallel or plug-in hybrids, as appropriate to their role.
A new electronic torque vectoring system greatly extends the stability, traction and handling of the DC100 concepts on any surface. As opposed to purely mechanical differentials, those designed for torque vectoring use electronic control systems to channel specific amounts of power to each individual wheel. In on-road driving situations this allows for both a sportier and safer drive, with the torque vectoring acting to further enhance vehicle performance by working in conjunction with stability programmes. During off-road driving, torque vectoring confers even greater benefits, being able to infinitely and instantaneously send torque to whichever combination of the four wheels has the most grip.
Driveline Disconnect reduces friction losses by sending drive to the front axle only unless conditions dictate that all-wheel drive is required. Unlike conventional switchable four-wheel drive, which reroutes engine power electronically, the Land Rover system physically decouples the rear propshaft from the centre differential for greater efficiency benefits with potential fuel savings of up to 7 per cent. The system can recouple and send drive to the rear wheels when it detects a loss of traction as swiftly as an electronic programme.
The Land Rover DC100 concept previews the car that will replace the 60-year-old Defender, which reached the magic two million mark earlier this year. The show model debuted at Frankfurt last September, and we drove the open-top Sport version on sand in November. But this time it's the hard-top on snow in the French Alps. Replacing the revered Defender is a daunting task, but the designers have carried over some of the legend's styling cues. The grille is clearly Land Rover, as are the near-vertical windows. There's also a pick-up-style load area, like the canvas-covered section of the Defender, with a solar panel in the roof.
Inside and out the DC100 has far more glitz, from the funky door handles to the trendy yet spartan interior. The seatbacks are built into the bulkhead and the bases appear to float like stadium seats. Shiny aluminium and bright orange grab handles surround the auto gearlever and centre display, while there are silver-finished details on the transmission tunnel and door handles. Tactile, high-quality cloth and plastics are used on the seats and doors. It's all very modern, with bold shapes giving a strong and robust look.
Climb in and there's plenty of head and legroom, while the flat, wide dash is neat and simple. The DC100's engine fires with a meaty sound. This car is a Range Rover Sport under the skin, and the 510bhp supercharged V8 has an angry rumble that gives it the character of a Monster truck. Push gently on the throttle, though, and you realise how much lighter the DC100 is than the Sport, helped by that empty, Defender-like rear cargo area. It leaps forward with real ferocity, crushing the ice we tested it on, although we were asked to avoid the softer snow drifts where possible. While the steering is a long way from production-ready, it feels quite direct, so even in these slippery conditions it's easy to place this priceless one-off.
Land Rover says this car is only a design concept, but the DC100 has an impressive list of technical innovations, the kind of features all Land Rovers could soon get. These include Auto Terrain Response, which can tell whether the car is on gravel, snow, sand, mud or tarmac, and adjusts the settings accordingly. This set-up is so sophisticated that if the DC100's front axle is on mud and the rear on grass, for example, it can switch to the correct mode on each axle. The next step, says Land Rover, is for high-definition cameras to read the terrain and highlight areas where inclines are too steep or rocks too large for the car to tackle.
But off-road ability isn't the only focus of the new Defender; the company wants to add some more everyday usability. Most impressive is the mobile key, a chip to operate the keyless entry that can be embedded in almost anything, such as a waterproof, shockproof bracelet. The idea is that you leave the regular keyfob locked in the car while you surf, for example, and use the band to get in when you return. Clever.
Read more: Land Rover DC 100 Test Drive
Top Gear - Driven: Land Rover DC100 Expedition
Autocar - DC100 concept review