Land Rover’s fifth-generation, seven-seat SUV promises radical new looks, a significant weight loss and a more upmarket cabin
25 August 2016

A near production-ready fifth-generation Land Rover Discovery has again been spotted almost undisguised ahead of its launch later this year.

The UK model was spotted in the same state of minimal disguise as previous images, revealing much of the car's styling and shape as well as another alloy wheel design. 

The Discovery seen before was spotted in Leamington Spa, close to Jaguar Land Rover's Gaydon headquarters, and was fitted with a 2.0-litre diesel engine thought to be one of the manufacturer's Ingenium powerplants from the Discovery Sport and Jaguar XE.

The new pictures confirm the Discovery will feature a lower, sleeker design, similar to 2014's Discovery Vision concept. The offset registration plate also suggests it will have an asymmetrical tailgate - a nod to previous generations of the model. It will also have a plusher, more upmarket cabin that will be no less practical or versatile than that of the current model.

Hot Land Rover Discovery Sport spied

The new model will also be significantly lighter than the current car and come packed with new technology when it goes on sale.

It will be the largest in a family of three or more upcoming Discovery models.

Land Rover has left the door open for another Discovery model below the smaller Discovery Sport as it looks to cash in on a growing global SUV market that will soon top 20 million sales worldwide.

The new Discovery will be underpinned by the same bonded and riveted aluminium monocoque structure used in the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models, alongside which the new Discovery will be built at Jaguar Land Rover’s Solihull plant.

This should contribute to a significant saving over the 2622kg kerb weight of the current car, which is underpinned by the strong but heavy T5 ladder chassis.

Engines

The core engine for the fifth-generation Discovery in the UK and Europe is set to be an updated version of the current 3.0-litre SDV6 diesel.

Despite Jaguar Land Rover recently revealing hybrid and electric research projects, this technology is not destined for production until the next decade.

Engines from the Ingenium family look likely to find their way into the car, either in current four-cylinder form with mild hybrid systems, or in V6 guise, if JLR further develops the new modular engine technology, as is widely expected.

Design

Land Rover previewed the next-generation Discovery at the New York motor show in April 2014 with the Discovery Vision, a concept that McGovern said was “very important in terms of being a benchmark for new-generation Discovery models: the versatility of the car, the seats, the reconfigurability, how you use it inside”.

The overall intention is to create a car that’s sportier and more modern-looking than today’s car but no less practical or versatile.

The production model, prototype versions of which are now regularly spied around JLR’s Midlands base, stays true to the concept on the exterior at least, with only detail changes at the front and rear ends. The concept’s radical, pared back interior is unlikely to carry over as extensively as the exterior, however.

Despite the radical exterior styling departure, McGovern said there were still “certain guidelines” in designing any Discovery. He said there would always be a stepped roof to accommodate the “stadium seating” for seven people, a visible pillar in the side to break up the mass and optimum proportions to maximise the volume inside the car.

He said the Discovery was being made more premium and would be brought “deliberately closer to Range Rover”. He added: “There will be a premium execution in Discovery, more Range Rover-like. But we need to not confuse and get the balance right.”

Despite the new design language, McGovern said the new Discovery “wouldn’t be polarising”. He said that, as much as he loved the current car, it was always seen as specialised in its design and ethos, so the new model would be “more universally appealing, without compromises”. He added that he had “no desire to upset traditionalists; the trick is to bring them with you”.

Technology

McGovern also spoke of the ever-closer ties between design and engineering and making sure the needs of both were met. He hinted that the Discovery would continue to have class-leading off-road ability, but in an altogether more stylish package.

“We won’t back off from that capability, but it has to be appropriate and relevant,” he said. “We need to be about more than that. It’s a killer combination: core engineering technology and truly desirable and bespoke design with our own twist. Design is playing a more fundamental role with engineering. Not design to engineering’s detriment, but a collaboration.”

In addition to its class-leading off-road ability, the Discovery could also become home to new technology in development at JLR. This includes a laser scanning system that can automatically adjust the suspension and transmission based on the road ahead, a ‘transparent bonnet’ that projects an image of what’s underneath the car onto the bonnet and the ability to control the car remotely to park it in tight spaces.

On the subject of a model smaller than the Discovery Sport, McGovern said: “We’re not going to make cars any bigger.” He added that cars needed to be lighter and more sustainable, with the use of lightweight composites and materials. These are “all things we’re developing”, he said.

“How small can you go with luxury? You usually think big, but we can go smaller. Can we go below the current Discovery Sport? We probably could. Across the range? Why not? All things are considered.”

Read: Land Rover Discovery - the generations

Comment - will the strategy work?

For the past few years, design director Gerry McGovern and other Land Rover executives have spoken of a ‘three-pillar’ model strategy. Within it, there will be three product lines: ‘Luxury’ Range Rovers, ‘Leisure’ Discovery models and ‘Dual Purpose’ Defenders.

The plan has always looked impressive during presentations, but the only real ‘family’ seen so far has been Range Rovers. It’s been a deliberate decision. “There’s been a lot of focus on Range Rover, but it's been needed to build revenue,” says McGovern. With revenues now up, attention has turned to expanding the Discovery range. The more upmarket Discovery Vision concept of 2014 set the blueprint for this plusher, sleeker range of Discovery models (something that continued with the Discovery Sport), and McGovern says a more universally appealing design for the next-gen Discovery will increase its chances of success.

McGovern believes that the Discovery name could have as much equity as the Range Rover one in future when there is a full range of models, something he also believes to be true of the next-gen Defender range.

This new Defender family will ensure that functional Land Rovers won’t disappear from a line-up swelling with plush, premium products. “When you have a family of Defenders, you get the stretch back,” says McGovern.

Our Verdict

Land Rover Discovery
The Discovery really is the defining go-anywhere super-utility vehicle

The Land Rover Discovery has an unbeatable combination of practicality, off-road ability and on-road manners

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Comments
58

6 September 2014

Please, please don't loose the upright rear door, this feature is now just about unique in an increasingly style conscious SUV market, and make the Discovery so practical a load lugger. Almost every week I load up with four large wheels, tools trolley jacks and fuel churns heading off for motor sport events, other than a previous generation X-Trail, I don't know what else would do the job, then comes the towing bit, and the three litre diesel trumps everything that I've ever experienced, the Discovery 4 is the perfect workhorse, particularly in Commercial form.

MrJ

27 December 2015

Agree completely - the Gen 3 is a great working vehicle, and in my view has far more convincing looks than the smaller Disco Sport.

12 April 2016

Just in case you were still labouring under the illusion that Land Rover makes off-road vehicles suitable for professional use.

AAJ

25 August 2016

Sorry old chap, but the days when a Land Rover were about practicality and usability are over. The is all about style and better driving dynamic on "the ring".

All those great features that made the old Discovery line a stonking good family car are being phased out in favour of a more stylish large estate car.

Personally, I will miss the old Discovery. I am also an old timer who wants to pack his car full of stuff from camping kit to washing machines! For me a car is a workhorse. But that is the past, today its far more important for a car to look bling.

6 September 2014
Darren Moss wrote:

sales started to dip as female buyers particularly were turned off by the Discovery’s sheer visual bulk and uncompromising stance.

I disagree. Pretty much every post-2004 Discovery is piloted by a private school mum who can't drive it properly. I suspect its 'visual bulk' and 'uncompromising stance' is the only reason they got one in the first place.

6 September 2014
Motormouths wrote:
Darren Moss wrote:

sales started to dip as female buyers particularly were turned off by the Discovery’s sheer visual bulk and uncompromising stance.

I disagree. Pretty much every post-2004 Discovery is piloted by a private school mum who can't drive it properly. I suspect its 'visual bulk' and 'uncompromising stance' is the only reason they got one in the first place.

Can you substantiate that with evidence? No, thought not. I thought people had got over these vehicles. Seems not.


13 August 2016
Motormouths][quote=Darren Moss wrote:

...pretty much every post-2004 Discovery is piloted by a private school mum who can't drive it properly. I suspect its 'visual bulk' and 'uncompromising stance' is the only reason they got one in the first place.

Wholeheartedly agree. Discovery (and Q7) women drivers are among the worst on the road. I was watching a mid-30's Q7 driver with her kids in the back trying to reverse into a space at Waitrose in Walton-le-dale. I wish I had filmed it - it was priceless.

The man in the car car adjacenet to me was watching in just as much disbelief as me.

6 September 2014

Is the X5 really it's competitor? Sure the RR sport is closer to the x5, no?

6 September 2014
superstevie wrote:

Is the X5 really it's competitor? Sure the RR sport is closer to the x5, no?

On price, the X5 competes with Discovery - have you seen RR Sport prices!

6 September 2014

This's is a tricky one for Land Rover to get right. It needs to be softer visually than the current model to leave room for the new Defender. Trouble is people will judge these cars on what they think they should be before seeing the entire range. Once the whole range is seen models like the sport will make sense

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