The third and fourth generation Land Rover Discovery had been rolling off the production line in the Midlands for over 12 years, when the all-new fifth generation was teased to the public at the 2016 Paris Motorshow.
With Gaydon's spotlight previously directed at its Range Rover and Discovery Sport models, the Disco was hardly likely to get much of an anniversary party – but now it is getting some much deserved attention.
This car's square-sided, plush-but-purposeful utility flavouring may be out of step with the direction its maker has recently departed from with the Evoque, Range Rover Sport, Discovery Sport and the 2017 Discovery, but this car has a lot to offer – particularly to those who like their 4x4s large, old-fashioned and unadorned, to serve as genuinely versatile and hard-working pieces of kit.
What the Discovery is got by way of a happy 10th birthday present is an exterior styling update, the addition of a fuel-saving stop-start system for its V6 turbodiesel engine, some new driver assistance systems, a new premium audio system and one or two detail revisions. It's not what you'd call a wide-ranging update but it's enough – just – to keep the seven-seater contemporary and competitive.
The Discovery's history is over a quarter of a century long and it describes the car that propped up the company throughout the 1990s. Launched in 1989, but famously leaked to the press a good deal earlier, the original Land Rover Discovery was a typically resourceful piece of British engineering. Take an ageing Range Rover chassis, stick a spacious body on top and spruce up with a decent diesel motor.
The end result saved the company and, with the emerging MPV phenomenon, made a serious dent in estate car sales. Corking off the road, acceptable on it, the first Disco soldiered on until 1998 when it was revamped, treated to a five-cylinder diesel engine and given the option of air suspension.
Then, in 2004, Land Rover launched the Discovery 3. This wasn’t a dramatic improvement for the Discovery so much as a galactic leap. The car grew to extra-large proportions but cast an even larger shadow for its incredible breadth of ability. It instantly went to the top of the big off-roader class, being next to unstoppable in the rough stuff yet comfortable and relaxing on it.
In 2009 the Discovery received a heavy update that brought with it a larger capacity diesel engine and warranted an upgrade to Discovery 4. While for 2014, Land Rover has dropped the '4', and replaced the 'Land Rover' badge on the bonnet for a 'Discovery' badge.
These were all minor changes made compared to the fifth generation Discovery which to all intents and purposes looks very much like an elongated Discovery Sport.