Wrangler or Defender? A New Battle Looms for Rock-Crawling Supremacy

Land Rover DC100 concept

Land Rover DC100 Concept

I once spent the majority of a day driving a Land Rover Defender through the desert sand dunes and rocky back country of Aruba. I came away with a newfound love for the bare-bones Defender workhorse. It wasn’t pretty, or even comfortable, but that truck went places I wouldn’t dare go with a Range Rover. Or even a Jeep Wrangler.

I’ve also spent considerable time in modern Land Rovers, basking in the glory of all the luxury and security they offer. Part of me, though, has longed for the utilitarian Rovers of the past.

It turns out Land Rover has heeded those calls and will bring us a modern descendant of the Defender.

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When I’ll Stop Laughing at Land Rover

Land Rover DC100 Concept Sport

Land Rover has had a troubled history as a company. The original 1948 firm got sold to British Leyland in the ‘60s (maybe the worst British car group ever), then British Aerospace, then BMW, then Ford, now Tata Motors.

None of these corporate shifts appear to have done it any good. Tata merged Land Rover with Jaguar (JLR), and the company has dropped 30 percent in market value over the last six months.

The Economic Times (of India) says the company needs to develop synergies between its two brands or, perhaps, split them apart. JLR says it plans to double its sales in India this year. Who are you going to believe here?

What JLR really needs is to determine, finally, its identity in today’s marketplace. Is it going to make fashion-statement cars, like the Evoque or the DC100 Concept Sport (above, shown in Frankfurt)? Or will it return to its roots as the world’s best off-road vehicle?

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Land Rover May Get Its Roots Back

The Land Rover Defender has been around in something like its present form since 1944. Like the Jeep, it evolved from a successful military light truck in World War II, and the Defender got its own badge in 1948. A good history is here, and the Brits have loved that beast forever.

It’s probably the best off-roader in the world, certainly an icon. In the past, the car had its problems getting certified in the U.S., and the company finally moved upmarket to its Discovery and Range Rover models.

Now, with Tata calling the shots, LR has come forward with a concept redesign for the Defender, called the DC100 (above), a far cry from the utilitarian, in-your-face, bone-rattling Defenders of the past.

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