The Land Rover Defender is an icon among off-roaders and British car enthusiasts alike - and after years of stalwart sameness, it may finally be getting a makeover. Land Rover recently unveiled the DC100 concept ahead of its debut later this month at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Intended as a concept version of the next Land Rover Defender, the DC100 provides a new take on the four-wheeler's classic styling.

Although Land Rover says the DC100 is purely a concept vehicle designed to gauge customer reactions, the futuristic SUV likely features several styling cues that will find its way into the next Defender. Such design elements include a two-door body style, a rear-mounted spare tire, "kidney" grilles mounted ahead of the doors, and black-painted C-pillars designed to give the SUV the appearance of wrap-around rear glass. But it also retains enough of the Defender's iconic shape to satisfy purists, from its flat, upright sides to its commanding driving position and steeply raked windshield.

"Replacing the iconic Defender is one of the biggest challenges in the automotive design world," said Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern. "This isn't a production-ready concept but the beginning of a four-year journey to design a relevant Defender for the twenty-first century."

The DC100 also features softer lines than the current, boxy Defender, which Land Rover confirmed would be replaced in 2015. Although Land Rover removed the Defender from the US market following the 1997 model year, the SUV remains on sale in many markets globally. Used models have gained a cult following in the States, where values of well-maintained original Defenders can approach their original sticker prices.

"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," said John Edwards, Land Rover's global brand director. "We plan to engage with existing and potential customers to help us finalize the details of the new vehicle."

While Land Rover has not announced further details such as the DC100's seating capacity and engine size, more information will be available when the SUV is displayed at Frankfurt.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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