Defender Concept 100 in Fuji White

The saga of the Defender Concept 100 continues to play out this week as reports that the DC100 could see a shift in purpose. While Land Rover has maintained from day one that the DC100 is the Defender, it seems that the company may be considering positioning the DC100 not as the “utility” category Defender, but as the new entry-level “leisure” category Land Rover.

This would make the DC100 the sub-Evoque/sub-LR2 that we have mentioned in the past.  The article speculates that if this strategy is adopted, the DC100 could end up on the Evoque’s chassis. However, there’s no reason that is set in stone even if the DC100 does see duty in the “leisure” category. The Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited, for example, does very well in a number of segments with its more traditional chassis.

A Green Light for Production

At the 2011 LA Auto Show press conference, Land Rover’s John Edwards stated the DC100 has been green-lit for production.

Although anything is possible, it seems unlikely to us that Land Rover would make such a dramatic change after so staunchly defending the concept as the penultimate evolution of the Defender. Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralph Speth even went as far saying 98% of the feedback on the DC100 concept has been positive. While we feel that 98% is a rather optimistic estimate, it seems that Land Rover changing the DC100 from a rough-and-tumble Defender replacement to a entry-level “leisure” car would entail some significant backtracking on the message they have tried so hard to maintain over the past several months. In fact, back at the 2011 LA Auto Show press conference, Land Rover’s John Edwards stated the DC100 has been green-lit for production as a Defender and the company would consider bringing the Defender to the United States.

For the Record…

We greatly dislike the category term “leisure” that Land Rover has assigned the LR4 and LR2. To us, a Mazda MX-5 Miata or a MINI Cooper Convertible you buy to drive every other weekend is a “leisure” car. In comparison, the Defender is considered the company’s “utility” line and the Range Rover brand makes up the “luxury” category.

DC100 vs. Jeep Wrangler

Should the DC100 become the entry-level Land Rover, it seems the most likely scenario would be one where it remains a Defender, but enjoys a Wrangler-like spread of trims. For example, the 2012 Jeep Wrangler has six two-door trims that range in price from $22,045.00 (Sport) to $36,860.00 (Call of Duty MW3 Edition). Buyers can then step up into the four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, which mirrors the trim selection, but with prices that range from $25,545.00 to $40,455.00. This gives the Wrangler a total of 12 trims over two models with introductory MSRPs that almost double across the range. In the Defender’s case, it could start somewhere between $30,000.00 and $40,000.00 and work its way up to the $60,000.00 to $70,000.00 range.

Given the role of the current Defender, any replacement vehicle will have to appeal to an incredibly wide variety of customers. Current buyers range from suburbanites to off-roaders and military fleets. Should the DC100 be based on a more traditional chassis (read more below), we could see a Defender line that serves both “leisure” and “utility” functions, much like the Jeep or even the HUMMER did back during its time. 

Other Land Rover Speculation

Now, on to other rumors. The Economic Times out of India has said the new Land Rover Defender will be based on the same platform as the next generation Tata Aria and the Tata Safari. This neither supports nor detracts from the idea that the DC100 could be a “leisure” category vehicle. The Aria is a crossover that’s very much like the Dodge Journey in size and purpose, but the Safari is positioned as a rather capable off-road vehicle. Since primary production of the DC100 will likely take place in India, sharing platforms with Tata vehicles is almost a given. 

Another long-standing platform option rumor centered around the LR3/LR4 chassis, which is now a tried-and-true platform that has proven its capability both on and off the highway. 

Larger Range Rover Evoque

The article also mentions that the Evoque could see a larger version, something Land Rover previously told What Car? is not happening. Instead, there is talk of expanding the Range Rover or Range Rover Sport to fill the seven-seat niche currently lacking in the Range Rover line. We feel there is still hope for a Grand Evoque somewhere down the line, but would not be at all surprised if it was the Range Rover Sport that was tapped to provide two additional seats. This is in part due to the fact that the Range Rover Sport has much in common with the LR4, Land Rover’s only seven-seat vehicle in the U.S. market. 

Defender Concept 100 in Fuji White

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