The striking design of Land Rover’s All-New Discovery was the result of countless hours spent experimenting with ideas and materials, a few of which are pretty surprising.
We discover how walking boots, virtual dogs and even The Queen Mary had a hand in the design of the versatile SUV.
Clay Modelling Tools
Despite the many advances and uses of technology in the development of the All-New Discovery there is a stage in which the old ways still serve best, that’s where clay comes in.
While on-screen 3D models of the new vehicle give designers a great virtual impression of the vehicle, it is still no replacement for the greatest lens of all, the human eye.
A full-size model is therefore created by using refined modelling clay. “I’ve simply never known a design that has looked right as soon as it has emerged from that milling machine,” says Land Rover Chief Designer Andy Wheel.
To get the perfect design, modelers work with the highly malleable clay, altering details by fractions of a millimeter or degree to get the sharp edges or curves desired by the design team.
7 full-size seats are a key feature in the All-New Discovery, but fitting them into the vehicle was a design challenge. Unlike most designs, the planning for this ingenious feature didn’t begin with a blank sheet of paper, but with an empty area of office floor.
Using props, Land Rover engineers began to layout possible seating configurations using office chairs.
Fitting seven full-size adult seats into a car less than 15.5 feet long was a minor miracle, but one that started with a simple brainstorm. While a few people may have been deprived of their seats for a short while, they will know it was worth it when they sit in the All-New Discovery for the first time.
The Queen Mary
In a great testament to a ‘think outside of the box’ mentality, Land Rover graduate engineers turned to famous steam liner, The Queen Mary, for inspiration.
Continually looking for ways to improve the vehicles, the team behind the All-New Discovery wanted to make it more practical and versatile than ever before and that included improving the car’s performance in a critical area.
The All-New Discovery has a wade depth of 900mm, more than any other Land Rover vehicle, and this is possible thanks to a new air intake system.
Unlike previous models, the versatile SUV doesn’t need to breathe through the grille, and instead inhales all the air it needs through what’s referred to as the ‘Queen Mary Funnel’. This 0.2 inch gap is where the hood meets the front fenders and is the highest useable opening in the car. After vigorous testing in the arctic and a wind tunnel, to name but a few, this new intake was deemed fit for purpose, giving the All-New Discovery more off-road driving capability than ever before.
When the Range Rover Evoque was launched an artist created a full-size wireframe as part of the tease and the reveal at Geneva Motorshow. Behind the scenes at Land Rover, the creation of similar full-size models has been going on for years.
These models, known as the Lab Car, are used to create a working model of the internal dimensions of the cabin, meaning engineers have the ability to assemble and test new systems that will be installed in the new vehicle, long before the prototypes are built.
The lab car was used to test complex components such as Intelligent Seat Fold, the innovative 7 seat system featured in the All-New Discovery, and make any necessary adjustments long before the vehicle is finalised.
The Land Rover development team always take great care in ensuring vehicles are spacious enough for everyone on board, and that consideration isn’t limited only to people who travel in the vehicle, man’s best friend gets a look in too.
While working on an earlier model of Discovery the team behind the car design listed things that owners would likely carry in their vehicle, and if they have one at home, were asked to measure it. The dimensions of everything they captured, from dogs to surf boards, were then used to create a Computer Aided Design (CAD) model of each item so it could be virtually tested.
Justin Cole, a Senior Engineer at Land Rover, had a 66 pound Labrador called Sam who became the model for the CAD Dog. Being a popular breed, Sam’s computer generated model was used to test that there was a comfortable amount of space, sitting and standing, for any dog going along for the ride.
Dan Dehheny is a Land Rover engineer who is deeply ingrained in testing the vehicles, and this includes real world testing.
Dan defines what the critical dimensions of the new vehicle should be for optimum capability and feeds this into the virtual model. However, when this is done Dan puts on his boots and begins real world testing.
Jumping out of the vehicle onto some of the harshest conditions on the planet, Dan and his boots have experienced everything from the snowy terrains of North Sweden to the sands of Dubai. There is one terrain, however, that Dan only has to visit the nearby Land Rover Experience centre at Eastnor Castle for, “We don’t need to travel for mud,” Dan says. “We have plenty of that at home.”
A ‘value’ of Discovery design is knowing that the vehicle is as happy in the country as it is in the city, much like the people on board. This is why being able to keep everything you want to store in the vehicle out of sight is so important.
The All-New Discovery is the most versatile Land Rover yet and has ingenious storage solutions throughout. What better way to test their capacity than with kids toys?
Invited to help with the testing, a Land Rover employee brought in her two boys who were armed with all the things they would take on a long car ride. After arriving they quickly jumped into the full-size mock-up of the vehicle’s cabin and began finding places for everything they had brought with them.
With a storage box in the main central armrest, an ingenious storage compartment behind the air conditioning and up to 15 USB ports across the 3 rows, the boys were soon satisfied that all of their belongings were safely stored and even happier that they could charge their electronics on the go.
As with any new Land Rover vehicle, the All-New Discovery had to be vigorously tested both off-road and on-road. This necessity does, however, provide a challenge for the design team who work hard at keeping the design of any new vehicle under wraps, preserving the ‘wow’ moment of the official reveal.
Three stages of camouflage cover the vehicle. The first being prototypes, which wear panels of an old model shape to disguise the new model, the second being heavy camouflage, and the third and final is light camouflage, which is just a film covering on the final shape of the vehicle.
Creating a pattern for this film covering has become somewhat of a hobby for the design team who have previously taken inspiration from ‘dazzle graphics’ of early battleships and even human beings when creating graphics that help keep the carefully crafted design a secret.
For the All-New Discovery the team took an image of a barcode and distorted it. “The barcode disguise is just a film applied to the real panels. The shape of the car is unaffected. Alex Heslop, the Chief Engineer said of this final camouflage, “You’re looking at the finished car, but the camouflage is brilliant at stopping you seeing it.”
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