Land Rover released some pictures of its new Defender concept two weeks prior to its scheduled unveiling at the Frankfurt Motor Show today and the softer design of the SUV, which is meant to test public reaction as the company prepares a production model for 2015, did not go down well with many Defender fans. Suddenly we had staunch loyalists crying blue murder on internet forums around the world.
But as Land Rover unveiled the 'beast' at the show today it threw in another surprise - an open-top version of the concept and this one's simply called the DC100 Sport.
Land Rover refers to the 'Sport' as an active expression of freedom and leisure and it also shows that the new platform might allow the same versatility as the current one's - in fact both are built on a 100-inch wheelbase.
Although they feature hi-tech materials and the latest technology to ensure fuel economy that meets modern expectations, Land Rover has designed this vehicle for proper off-roading too, but we can't imagine the technologies they've concocted to aid off-road driving going down too well with the traditionalists.
These include 'Terrain-i' scanning to warn of obstacles when off-roading, as well as 'Wade Aid' sonar technology to assess water depth and then there's the familiar Terrain Response System from the Discovery, which automatically adjusts the mechanical settings to the conditions at hand. Too many electronics for a Defender, if you ask us.
These Defender concepts are built on a lightweight, mixed-alloy platform and boast permanent four-wheel drive with an eight-speed gearbox and a transfer case. Driveline Disconnect physically decouples the rear axle to save fuel when four-wheel drive is not required.
Under the bonnet, both concepts have 2-litre four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines with hybrid and plug-in capabilities.
They have different suspension systems though, the DC100 using 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 and the Sport version employing a MagneRide adjustable suspension for better on-road handling.