Workhorse, tow car, law enforcer, status symbol, people carrier, mud plugger; few cars can claim to fulfil any of these duties with genuine conviction. Yet since 16 November 1989 – 20 years ago today – one car has consistently met all those challenges and more, earning itself iconic status as the ultimate all-purpose vehicle. That car is the Land Rover Discovery.
Designed originally to plug the gap between the utilitarian attributes of the iconic Land Rover Defender and the more luxurious characteristics of the flagship Range Rover, Discovery soon became the perfect niche vehicle for the growing demands of the family 4x4 market.
"The Discovery legend has been built on innovative design and advanced technology. From the introduction of high-efficiency direct-injection diesel technology into the 4x4 market in 1989, to pioneering occupant safety with the adoption of twin airbags in 1998, Discovery has led the way." says Phil Popham, Managing Director. "It is truly the best loved SUV the world over. Today, we sell the Discovery in 91 countries and sales to date have hit over and above 900,000," he adds.
Having revolutionised the mid-sized 4x4 sector in 1989, it's no surprise that the Discovery evolved to reflect the needs and tastes of its increasingly urbane and discerning buyers. By 1994 range-topping Discovery models featured leather upholstery and wood veneer trim, and when the Series II Discovery was introduced in 1998 it added a sophisticated new heating, air-conditioning and ventilation system for increased comfort in all climates. Today's Discovery 4 continues that ethos of evolution to winning effect: Its strikingly architectural interior design, clear-yet-stylish dashboard, user-friendly features and luxurious interior creating an attractive, well-appointed and practical environment for driver and passengers alike.
The Discovery will be forever renowned for its legendary exterior shape which to this day still continues the stepped roof and asymmetric rear glass theme, giving all occupants a clear view of the journey ahead. To provide a contemporary edge to the interior design, Land Rover turned to the Conran Design Studio who for many years have been held in high regard for influencing 'modern day living'.
"Discovery has evolved its own clear design heritage over four generations. Today, Discovery 4 stays true to its clean, geometric, architecturally-inspired predecessors. Its new front bumper, lights and face, smoother lines and subtle curves, combine to enhance the overall impression of premium quality," says Gerry McGovern, Design Director.
While go-anywhere ability is synonymous with any Land Rover product, the Discovery's enduring success comes from a combination of all-terrain capability and all-important practicality for the demands of family life. Like its predecessors, Discovery 4 comes with seven seats – the rearmost pair now offering legroom for full-sized adults, providing a versatile space for family and friends.
Increased style and comfort have never come at the expense of the Discovery's dynamic ability. Indeed generations of horse riders, caravaners, boat owners and car racers can all testify to the Discovery's towing prowess. It's a tradition Discovery 4 proudly upholds with Tow Assist, which helps the driver perform otherwise tricky towing manoeuvres, and Trailer Stability Assist, which reduces engine Torque and uses programmed braking applications to regain control over a snaking trailer. Two honours at the recent Caravan Club Towcar of the Year Awards 2010 are fitting recognition of Discovery 4's utilitarian qualities and on-going commitment to safety.
The evolutionary Discovery 4 looks set to follow on from the enormous success of its predecessor. Since its launch back in 2004, the Discovery 3 has achieved global acclaim winning a staggering 111 awards worldwide, including the honour of SUV of the year from countries as diverse as Mexico, Russia and Greece.
In 2004, the Discovery 3 introduced another significant first: Terrain ResponseTM. This patented system allows the driver to actively tune the car's systems (including engine, suspension and Traction control settings) to optimise their vehicle for virtually any driving situation, from urban jungle to gnarly wilderness. Terrain Response has since been recognised in the Queen's Awards For Enterprise for Innovation. Land Rover previously received this prestigious award for its patented Hill Descent Control and an enhanced version of this technology remains key to the dynamic capabilities of the new Discovery 4 with the addition of Gradient Release Control.
At the heart of the new Discovery 4 is a highly efficient and refined new sequential twin-turbo diesel 3.0 litre V6 engine. It delivers improved fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions, while at the same time as increasing power and Torque the existing 2.7-litre engine. The engine is tuned to for towing and all-terrain driving, and delivers immediate throttle response, an impressive 5000Nm Torque from idle in 500ms.
The Discovery 4 is available now in Australia.
Adaptable, capable, indefatigable, unmistakable; the Discovery legend is wholly deserved. Here's to the next 20 years.
For immediate release: 16th November 2009
Land Rover has today confirmed that the first member of the all-new Discovery family will be the Discovery Sport premium compact SUV.
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Jaguar Land Rover Limited: Registered Office: Abbey Road, Whitley, Coventry CV3 4LF Registered in England No: 1672070