Land Rover has taken the wraps off its already controversial DC100 Concept in Frankfurt ... and it has a stablemate - the convertible DC100 Sport. The Concepts are intended to float new ideas and spark debate on the design of the next-gen Defender which is slated for production 2015. Land Rover has also tossed-up some interesting possibilities as to what sort of high-tech kit might find a home in future models.
Design-wise the stated goal is to capture "the inherent simplicity and reassurance of the original short-wheelbase Land Rover" - we'll let you be the judge of that. The familiar short overhangs and near-vertical panels are there along with 22-inch alloy wheels. The angled windscreen and raked front end are the biggest departures from past design language, that is, apart from the a canvas roof and cut-down wind-screens on the DC100 Sport.
Inside there's three in the front bench seating and the outboard passenger seat can be folded away to boost carrying capacity. Land Rover says interior materials have been chosen with sustainability and durability in mind and the DC100 Sport (which let's face it is pretty unDefender-like anyway) gets the added-injection of leather trim. Seat cushions and to line the footwells and rear load space also feature "an almost indestructible textile" used in spacesuits called "Superfabric".
On the gear side of the equation, the Concepts include a "Terrain-i scanning" for assisting with off-road navigation, always-on telematics and a sonar system called "Wade Aid" which detects the depth of the water you are crossing and works out the optimum gear, speed, ride height and engine revs required.
The intelligent mapping system builds a 3D visualization of the surrounding terrain using a headlamp-mounted scanner and cameras mounted on each corner and the vehicle can react to potential problems ahead by, for example, changing the ride-height to increase approach and departure angles.
The roof of the DC100 roof is equipped with solar panels to supplement power supply to on-board systems while both Concepts feature built-in induction charging stations and future paint technologies (when they arrive) would also be used to give the vehicles self-cleaning and self- repair capabilities. And the bit we really like - a button-operated, electro-mechanical spiked tire system that sees air injected into pods moulded into the tread to create extra grip (and make snow chains a thing of the past). A ruggedized removable touchscreen tablet housed in the dash would control navigation, audio and climate and double-as a navigation device when on foot. The Meridian speaker system is also removable so you can stream tunes straight to your campsite.
There's also a set of RFID "Leisure Keys" that can be built into wearable items like watches. Using this would enable the main key fob to be left in the glovebox at which point it would deactivate and defer lock and unlock functions to the RFID chip.
Land Rover says the DC100 Concepts would use 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol and diesel powerplants with hybrid and plug-in capabilities with an eight-speed transmission and a "Driveline Disconnect" system that physically decouples the rear axle to save fuel when all-wheel drive is not required.
Finally, "Park Assist" functionality would enable the vehicle to parallel park with minimal input from the driver.
Reaction to our earlier story on the pre-show announcement of the DC100 suggests that Land Rover could have its work cut out in terms of pleasing Defender devotees with the new design. Gizmag commenter Rodrigo Beja sums up the prevailing sentiment nicely - "It never was meant to be the weekend playcar (DC100 sport) ... What I see in the DC100 is just another fashion design that could have been produced by any brand."
So will details on tech goodies and the unveiling of the convertible Sport concept sway this view? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
(All images: Land Rover)