Land Rover’s new Discovery has broken cover a day before its global debut at the Paris motor show, sporting a radically different look, lightweight structure, fresh engines, advanced technology, and a starting price of $81,590 when it lands in Australia in July next year.
Land Rover Australia has also confirmed the local Discovery range - now without any numeric suffix - will be entirely diesel powered and available exclusively as a seven seater. Pricing for the rest of the line-up has not been announced but will kick off with a four-cylinder SE grade before stepping up to HSE and the HSE luxury specification. A First Edition launch grade will also go on sale in Australia.
This is the fifth iteration of the large SUV and a major departure from not just a look which the Discovery has worn for the past 26 years, but also from its aging integrated body and ladder frame platform.
Staying true to the styling of the Discovery Vision Concept which gave the world its first proper sniff of the SUV’s future design in 2014, the new Discovery has lost its boxy body and gained a more curvaceous shape.
Sleeker, wraparound headlights, a slimmer and a more heavily raked windscreen see the new SUV adopt the new family face already worn by the Discovery Sport. Fans of the Disco will be pleased to hear that the signature stepped roofline has been retained. The forward slanting C-pillar and rear window treatment is bound to split opinions, so too will the one-piece hatch which has replaced the split fold tailgate.
In typical Discovery style storage throughout is excellent.
Jaguar Land Rover senior public affairs executive James Scrimshaw says it won’t be the first Discovery to ruffle a few feathers.
“The Discovery 3 really polarised opinions when we launched it in Australia in 2004,” he said. “And with the success of vehicles like the Range Rover Sport and Discovery Sport in Australia we feel this design language will have great appeal here.”
At 4970mm nose to tail, 2220mm mirror to mirror and 1846mm tall the new Discovery is 141mm longer, 167mm wider and stands 41mm shorter than the outgoing Disco. The wheelbase has grown by 38mm to 2923mm, too.
In the cabin there’s theatre style seating which allows seven adult passengers to sit comfortable in each row and see over those in front. For the first time on a Discovery as well, the third row is fitted with ISOFIX points and top tether anchor points for child seats.
In typical Discovery style storage throughout is excellent. Up front there’s a twin glovebox, deep centre console armrest storage box, door bottle holders and two cupholders, while the third row has two large cupholders and storage bins. Those in the second row compartments miss out on cupholders, but get double map pockets in the front seatbacks and bottle holders in their doors.
Boot capacity with the third row folded is down by 29 litres at 1231 litres. For those who might miss the split tailgate, rest assured there’s a fold down platform which can be used as a table or seat and handle 300kg of weight.
The Discovery no longer has an integrated body and ladder frame chassis, instead an aluminium monocoque provides the SUV’s structure. This has helped reduce weight by 480kg for a far less hefty 2105kg.
The reduction in the SUV’s weight also means faster acceleration with the Td6 capable of sending the Discovery from 0-100km/h in 8.1 seconds – 1.3 seconds quicker than the previous TDV6-powered model.
The weight loss means the Discovery can be powered by smaller engines and this fifth iteration will see the introduction of the two new Ingenium four-cylinders. The Td4 is a 132kW/430Nm 2.0-litre single turbo unit while the Sd4 is a twin-turbo version of the same engine making 177kW and 500Nm.
Joining these powerplants will be the Td6, a 190kW/600Nm 3.0-litre single turbo V6 with slightly more power and better fuel efficiency than the TDV6 it replaces. The reduction in the SUV’s weight also means faster acceleration with the Td6 capable of sending the Discovery from 0-100km/h in 8.1 seconds – 1.3 seconds quicker than the previous TDV6-powered model.
Carried over is the smooth-shifting ZF eight-speed automatic transmission.
Headlining the new technology in the cabin is an automatic seating system. The function allows seats to be folded and configured remotely with a phone app or by using the buttons located cargo area, on the C-pillar of through the touch screen.
Buyers can also get the optional Activity Key which is worn like a fitness band but will actually lock and unlock the SUV and is waterproof to 50m.
Speaking of which, the previous Discovery’s 7-inch touchscreen has been replaced by a 10-inch display with a better resolution and a dual view function allowing the front passenger to watch TV without distracting the driver. It’s part of the new InControl Touch Pro media system which brings sophisticated sat nav, houses the climate control functions, provides Wi-Fi for eight devices and lets the occupants use their phone apps.
Buyers can also get the optional Activity Key which is worn like a fitness band but will actually lock and unlock the SUV and is waterproof to 50m. Jaguar’s F-Pace first introduced the Activity Key which removes the need to carry around an actual key fob during running or swimming.
The new Discovery also benefits from an enormous step up in advanced safety features. This includes AEB with a pedestrian detection system, adaptive cruise control, auto high beam, auto parking, blind spot warning and lane keeping assistance, fatigue detection, traffic sign recognition and a speed limiter system which knows how fast the driver is allowed to travel and will reduce the speed to avoid fines – but the driver can override it.
While there’s been huge changes to the look and structure of the Discovery, Land Rover assures its adventurous fans that its enormous off road capability has been retained. There’s a ground clearance of 283mm, although Land Rover is yet to confirm its highest and lowest settings; there’s a better departure angle of 30 degrees (up from 29.6) and approach angle of 34 degrees (down from 36.2) and an increased wading depth of 900mm (up by 200mm).
Like the previous model the new Discovery is a full-time four wheel drive, and comes with the next-generation Terrain Response 2 system, the difference compared to the previous version is an auto mode which judges which setting best suits the conditions.
The Discovery keeps its air suspension but Land Rover says on-road composure and handling has been improved, with wide-spaced double wishbones up front and an integral link rear setup.
The 3500kg braked tow rating has also been retained and those who aren’t particularly proficient at reversing a trailer will be relieved to hear that the new Discovery has a semi-autonomous tow system. Using the centre console dial to keep guidelines shown on the display aimed at the where you’d like the trailer to go, the Discovery will steer itself into the position.
The Discovery has been a success story for Land Rover in Australia, the current iteration however has had the same platform since 2004, and while it is still one of the brand’s biggest sellers its competition has overtaken it in terms of technology.
The earlier versions of Discovery have really underpinned the success of Land Rover in Australia for decades, but it was time to update it.
“Discovery has been Land Rover's main volume seller in Australia since its launch 27 years ago,” Scrimshaw said.
“Our current sales rate for Discovery is the highest it has ever been, and it contributes approximately 25-30 per cent of our current total sales volume.
“The earlier versions of Discovery have really underpinned the success of Land Rover in Australia for decades, but it was time to update it and the all new Discovery. This new vehicle will offer all of the benefits customers expect from such a versatile vehicle, but will now offer the added benefits of JLRs aluminium expertise, new lightweight Diesel engines, plus it will be the most connected and advanced Discovery yet.