The fifth-generation model, which was on display at the Paris motor show, adopts many styling cues from the influential Discovery Vision concept presented by design boss Gerry McGovern at the 2014 New York motor show.
Its sleek and curvaceous lines deliberately ditch the square-jawed toughness of the outgoing Discovery 4 to make way for the first of the new Defender family, promised for 2018-2019.
“The new Discovery represents a massive shift in design terms from the current one,” McGovern said. “But I think we’ve managed it without losing the essence of its practicality, capability and versatility.”
Much of the Mk5 Discovery’s new-found efficiency flows from the adoption of JLR’s cleaner, own-design 2.0-litre four-cylinder Ingenium diesel engine, which produces a healthy 369lb ft but emits a modest 171g/km of CO2. The other economy driver is a 480kg reduction in kerb weight compared with the outgoing model. It also helps that the Discovery’s frontal area is reduced and the aerodynamic drag coefficient is just 0.33, which is impressively low for a full-size SUV.
The new Discovery’s 20% weight saving is the result of Land Rover’s decision to ditch the tough but heavy steel ladder chassis of previous models in favour of a riveted and bonded aluminium monocoque shell, widely adopted across the rest of the Jaguar and Land Rover ranges.
Land Rover says it has designed the new Discovery from the inside out to provide adult-size seating for seven and adhere to the established Discovery tradition of ‘stadium’ seating, whereby the second and third rows of seats are positioned higher than the one in front. The seats are power-operated and can be remotely configured in a variety of positions, either via the fascia’s 10.0in touchscreen, by controls inside the tailgate aperture, or, uniquely, with a smartphone app.
The emphasis on interior space has encouraged the designers to stick with the Discovery’s traditional stepped roofline, which provides enough head room for all but the tallest 5% of adults in the third row of seats.