Talking about the Land Rover Discovery used to be easy.

THE LAND ROVER DISCOVERY was launched in 1989 as the Discovery 1, owing much to the Range Rover with a similar chassis and suspension.

Then in 1998 it was updated to the Discovery 2, usually written as Series II, model code L318 which followed the same basic design and look albeit with almost all new body panels. The D2 introduced traction control to the range, and famously Land Rover decided to delete the centre diff lock in 2001. In 2002 Land Rover released minor changes to make the Discovery 2 Series II, and late that year there was the Discovery 2a (2, Series III) with new-style headlights and tail lights, and the return of the centre diff lock which Land Rover advertised as “slip, slop, difflock is back”.

Then in 2004 there was the Ford-funded Discovery 3, the L319, which was a complete ground-up redesign and featured fully-independent suspension and a range of highly advanced electronics.  That model was replaced by the Discovery 4 in 2009, which offered more powerful engines, a revised interior and improved electronics but retained most of the body panels, with changes focusing on the front and rear.

In 2012 the six-speed automatic from the Discovery 3 was replaced with an 8-speed unit, and the vehicle lost its “4” badging to become just “Discovery”. The name on the bonnet also changed from “Land Rover” to “Discovery”, part of Land Rover’s three-brand lineup of Defender, Discovery and Range Rover with three models in each brand.

And now in 2017 we will have another new Discovery, the third major redesign if you include the Discovery 1. This is colloquially known as “Discovery 5”, but it’s not, at least not officially.  The official name is “All-New Discovery” for the first six months, after which it will become just “Discovery”. This is the same idea as the Range Rover, which has been known as Range Rover since inception, and the same as most other vehicles; Ford has used Ranger for three versions of the vehicle, the Nissan Patrol has been through about five versions and the Wrangler name has survived from change to change.

This is all very well for new-car buyers, but not so good for those of us who need to refer to the different models by different names. So, we’ll call the 2017 Discovery the L462 Discovery, to distinguish it from the older models. The Discovery 4 and the 2012-to-2016 “Discovery” models can be known as Discovery 4s, and before that it was easy as there was the Discovery 3, 2a, 2 and 1. In the same way, we refer to the different Range Rovers as Classic, P38a, L322 and L405. Same sort of thing as a referring to a Patrol as a Y61, GQ or GU…even to the point where we don’t even call it a “Patrol” we just say “GQ”, and if you talk of a TJ vs a JK we all know you mean Wranglers.

Regardless of whatever we or Land Rover call it, the new Discovery is set to be perhaps the most interesting top-end 4X4 release this year for offroaders, and we will bring you a review of as soon as we can.


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