New Vision Concept previews upcoming Discovery family; two Freelander replacements, a rugged SUV and a luxurious flagship model are expected
Mark Tisshaw
20 April 2014

Land Rover has revealed the future of its expanded Discovery range with a versatile and technology-packed SUV concept shown at the Beijing motor show, following its official reveal at the New York motor show earlier this week.

The Discovery Vision Concept – which has appeared in Beijing in a new orange paint scheme, but is otherwise unchanged from the New York vehicle – heralds a range of initially four SUV models that will wear the Discovery badge, taking the 25-year-old nameplate to a whole family of ‘leisure’ vehicles in the same way that Land Rover has with Range Rover and Defender.

The new concept car establishes the design themes, versatile, high-tech interiors and off-road prowess of the Discovery family. It also previews a whole raft of advanced technology that’s set to come from Jaguar Land Rover in the coming years, including the ability to control the car remotely.

“The Discovery concept vehicle represents a vision of our future family of leisure SUVs,” said Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern. “Its modern, relevant and compelling design is a significant shift from Discovery as we know it. Vision puts design at the core, design which resonates on an emotional level.

"It has beautiful proportions, it's poised, it has a strong stance as all Land Rovers do. It's versatile inside and out and can be associated with lots of different lifestyles.

The first Land Rover model to wear the Discovery name in the next generation of vehicles will be a replacement for the current five-seat Freelander. It is due to be seen before the year is out and is based on the Range Rover Evoque platform. There will also be a seven-seat Freelander replacement.

The staple Discovery model and a new addition to the line-up will be a rugged seven-seat off-roader in the mould of Toyota’s Land Cruiser. This will be a sister car to Jaguar’s upcoming SUV and a new Range Rover model that will slot between the Evoque and Range Rover Sport.

Crowning the range will be a direct replacement for the current Discovery, but with an even plusher and more premium execution. It is this model — built on the all-aluminium structure that underpins the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport — that the Discovery Vision Concept most closely previews.

The styling of the concept is a complete departure from the current Discovery 4. The silhouette is sportier and the lines and detailing more curvaceous. The overhangs are also shorter to give a more compact look, and there are flourishes from the Range Rover family in the wraparound lights and the grille pattern.

However, there are still nods to the current Discovery in the concept’s stepped roof and inside, where the Discovery’s famed ‘command’ driving position remains, as do the three rows of seating progressively elevated in a theatre-like style to give all occupants a good forward view. "It recognises its unique Discovery heritage," said McGovern "Inside it is open, and the interior is packed with pioneering futuristic technology. It is immensely versatile."

"It's a compelling vision with ideas that can drive a new range of Discovery models. These ideas will transition to new vehicles."

The body-coloured C-pillars remain from the Discovery 4 but are now more rakish. The split tailgate of the Discovery 4 is ditched for a single tailgate that, when opened, allows a platform to slide out from the base of the load area within the rear bumper to create what Land Rover dubs a ‘social seat’.

Other concept car flourishes include the rear-hinged doors and the absence of B-pillars, the doors opening to reveal a versatile 2+3+2 cabin that can seat seven full-sized adults. Land Rover says passengers are catered for “equally” with lots of legroom and headroom and their own infotainment and storage.

The seats in the second and third rows are all independent and can be folded flat and slide fore and aft to create myriad layouts. These include a four-seat ‘limousine’ mode, in which the outside seats in the second row slide and fold forwards and the middle seat folds down to form a table, making maximum legroom for two people in the third row.

The interior design is more sophisticated and luxurious than the Discovery 4’s. The centre console is dominated by a large central touchscreen to carry out almost all interior functions. This can also be controlled by small touchpads on the steering wheel.

High-quality materials and details feature throughout, including luxurious metals, special leathers that are washable and totally oil and water repellent, and gesture-operated mood lighting. 

An extensive amount of new technology in the Discovery Vision Concept includes laser headlamps that scan the road and can automatically dip certain parts of the beam.

Another feature is ‘Smart Glass’, used for the whole glasshouse, which can display images like a computer screen. This allows for the ‘Transparent Bonnet’ function, an image being projected from the head-up display on to the windscreen in the driver’s field of vision, giving an impression that the bonnet is see-through. This enables the driver to see the terrain immediately below.

The glass also allows the panoramic roof and passenger windows to be infinitely dimmed or fully blacked out. 

Smartphones can be added to the individual infotainment functions for four of the five rear passengers (each getting their own 10-inch touchscreen tablet in the back of the headrest in front), allowing images to be displayed on the glass using the car’s wi-fi. Many controls and functions inside are carried out by gesture control.

The concept also features a host of new driving functions. The most notable is a Remote Control Drive function, which allows the driver to control the car from the outside at low speeds, either by a removable rotary controller or a smartphone app. 

Other features include Laser Terrain Scanning (which maps the terrain ahead using lasers in the foglamps), Laser Referencing (which uses the car’s lasers to project images on to the road such as warning triangles) and a next-generation version of the Terrain Response system.

This system incorporates the ability to scan terrain ahead and prime the drive system accordingly, to see how deep a water obstacle is and advise if it’s passable, and low-speed autonomous driving off road.

Discovery's new tech

Innovative glass

So-called Smart Glass is used for the panoramic roof, front and rear screens and side windows. Swiping or gesturing at the glass allows more or less light to enter the cabin. Images can also be projected on to it through augmented reality technology. Reversing and other manoeuvres are made easier by projecting images from external cameras on to the glass.

Flexible seating

The seats in the second and third rows can fold fore and aft individually or as rows, fitting flush to the seats in front or behind. Any configuration between four and seven seats can be created. Each passenger gets their own infotainment options, charging points and storage, plus features such as pop-out coat hangers and hooks. 

New driving technology

The most innovative new feature on the ‘driving’ front is the ability to control the car remotely on an app in situations like extreme off-roading, coupling to trailers and driving through gates. A next-gen Terrain Response system uses lasers to scan the road ahead and prime the car accordingly. 

Infotainment controls

Most major functions of the interior are carried out on a large central touchscreen and two touchpads on the steering wheel. There are no indicator or light stalks. The turn signals and lighting functions are operated by gesture control. A large, high-definition instrument screen displays key functions.

Read more New York motor show news.

Our Verdict

Land Rover Discovery

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

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Comments
42

15 April 2014
I think the interior looks fabulous. It's a gigantic step in quality from the Freelander to the replacement. I doubt you will notice any notable difference in the basic design architecture between the concepts fascia and the Freelanders' replacement. In my opinion, the interior of the concept is a masterpiece - beautiful, sophisticated, modern, British and absolutely the quality I'd expect from the guys a Land Rover. Hearty congratulations, and here's to a 12 month waiting list!

The days of loads of buttons are soon to be over ladies and gentlemen, and if you are looking to buy a £30k-£60k car in the next few years, this is the sort of design ideas to expect - lots of technology, but beautifully executed. Makes the x3 interior - not to mention their own Evoque interior - look positively ancient! I'd expect an Evoque fascia change in the next couple of years.

289

15 April 2014
....to those Land Rover fanatics, who have labelled me a JLR hater (of which I am not btw), but I really like this.
I don't see it as a Discovery 4 replacement, but I like it. Better shape than a RR Sport, which to me ran out of ideas at the rear...OK the side and rear windows are smaller than I would like, but the designers are determined to have their way. The kicked up roof line is so small as to be of no purpose...remember this was originally to give increased load space and headroom for the back seats.
Pleased they have done away with the daft split tailgate.
The gesture wipers and indicators will hopefully be quietly dropped...sort of answers a question no one asked!- I really cant remember someone saying to me ..."good journey, but flicking that indicator switch wore me out"
Don't know how successful the touch screens will be....everyone is going down this route now and please remember that if this packs up you have lost pretty much all of your controls (all of which will be an MOT failure) and no doubt will cost a fortune to replace, whereas if one switch fails you can replace just that one relatively economically. Also what happens when the sun shines through that steeply raked windscreen across the touch screen and you cant see the read-out?
Apart from that, I like it, just as I like the new Range Rover.....would I buy one? that's another story! If JLR took the Five year warranty route, (given that I always buy two year old cars), I might have the nerve to give it a go.

15 April 2014
Looks like 3 cars joined together, and not in a good way. After purity of Evoque and Range Rovers, this is a bit of a dogs dinner imho. And to abandon the double roof heritage of Disco is sacrilege. I do hope the real car will be better, but I doubt it.

15 April 2014
soldi wrote:

Looks like 3 cars joined together, and not in a good way. After purity of Evoque and Range Rovers, this is a bit of a dogs dinner imho. And to abandon the double roof heritage of Disco is sacrilege. I do hope the real car will be better, but I doubt it.

What pictures you looking at? All the profile pics and the cut away show the roof step, toned down from the current yes but Its there.

15 April 2014
Ok, this is a concept, but if it's indicative of the direction the Discovery family will be taking, then these cars will have a smoother and sleeker appearance than the Range Rover family despite the Discovery's more rough and ready, utilitarian role. As for the concept, the softer, curvier rear half seems at odds with the rest of the car's looks, as if the car conjoins to separate styling proposals.

15 April 2014
This looks superb and clearly shows that Land Rover's styling department are really on a roll. Credit to them for making their utilitarian range look this good, this rakish, this sleek and this upmarket looking. The likes of the Landcruisers will look even more outdated, 2nd rate and brick-like compared to the new Discoverys. Couple these looks to Land Rover's legendary and unmatched off-road prowess and the excellent JLR build and quality and it's clear Land Rover will have yet another class leader in its range.

15 April 2014
@Roadster

Superb looking indeed and this together with the Jag 4x4 is two of the best looking machines out there at the moment -

Being a Land Cruiser owner myself I agree this will make the "king" look outdated but remember that Toyota never intended the LCruiser to be the last word in style - as for build quality/ reliability/ off-road prowess - there's a reason why the Land Cruiser owns 85% market share and destroyed Land Rovers reputation in countries like Australia and South Africa ( but that was the last generation only time will tell as to the new ones)

JLR should be wary of not taking the new Disco too much upmarket - the design elements already shows more Range Rover than Land Rover - the concept of a year or two ago looked superb but they should make it affordable/ simple enough (think Defender) if they want to have any chance of taking back their market share from Toyota !

15 April 2014
burninrubber wrote:

Being a Land Cruiser owner myself I agree this will make the "king" look outdated but remember that Toyota never intended the LCruiser to be the last word in style - as for build quality/ reliability/ off-road prowess - there's a reason why the Land Cruiser owns 85% market share and destroyed Land Rovers reputation in countries like Australia and South Africa ( but that was the last generation only time will tell as to the new ones)

All Japanese cars destroyed all European cars in Asia Pac. Go there and you'll see what I mean. Reliability has practically nothing to do with it. The waking of a sleeping giant in their own market has everything to do with it. Bilge.


15 April 2014
Oh dear, when will designers realize that touch screens are not the best idea when it come to motoring. Sure they have a place, but basic functions still need to be found by feel alone. The indicators operated by gesture is the stupidest idea I've seen yet.

15 April 2014
It's still a Discovery, but less bluff-fronted. I like the evolution of what has become Discovery trademark styling features.
In regards to the Freelander replacement being based on the Evoque platform, wasn't the Evoque based on a modified current Freelander platform....?

"Why is http://www.nanoflowcell.com not getting more media attention? It could be the future... Now!"

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