Mike Stevens | Aug 8, 2011

Like the Toyota 70 Series, and the 40 Series before it, Land Rover's rugged Defender is an icon of the off-roading world. Steeped in legend, the Defender has been the British brand's workhorse for over 60 years.

Now, the prospect of 'retire or replace' looms for the ageing 4WD - but reports out of the UK this week suggest Land Rover is planning to reveal a concept for a possible successor at next month's Frankfurt Motor Show.

According to Autocar, the plan behind the concept is to prove that Land Rover's parent Tata is serious about the brand's future, and also to gauge buyer interest in the Defender's future.

The company's brand director, John Edwards, reportedly told the magazine that he "can't imagine" a Land Rover line-up that doesn't include a Defender badge.

The challenge, he says, is to produce a 4WD that competes with its high-volume rivals, while still offering the features that buyers expect from any Land Rover, Defender or otherwise.

The top priority will be ensuring that the new platform allows for the different bodystyles that have been offered with the Defender in the past, and to maintain a relatively simple and easily-repairable engineering programme.

With a 2015 production debut in sight, Edwards reportedly wants to maintain the Defender's military appeal, with the various international forces contracts making up a significant portion of the off-roader's vehicle and parts sales.

Edwards acknowledges that, as with the larger modern MINI range and the 'new' front-engined, front-wheel-drive Beetle, the new Defender will not please everyone. But with only 18,000 built in 2010, the company will be hoping to please as many buyers as possible.

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