All-new Land Rover Discovery spotted in Australia
The all-new Land Rover Discovery won’t be on-sale until next year, but last weekend one showed up in St Kilda, Victoria… We had a good look at it.
THE DISCOVERY was originally launched in 1989, and depending on how you count the versions, we’re now up to four, five or even six. Maybe that’s why Land Rover are not mentioning the number for this new one, calling it for the moment “all new Discovery”. Regardless, this is an entirely new vehicle to replace the highly successful model first launched in 2005 as the Discovery 3, then refined to become the Discovery 4 and finally just plain “Discovery”.
This Discovery was the first of its kind in Australia, making a quick stopover at the Sailing World Cup Final in St Kilda on the way to the Canadian Motor Show. It was a pre-production model, so not representative of the final specs we’ll get in Australia, but nevertheless we learned a few things.
The interior will be familiar to anyone who drives a current-model Land Rover; same sort of styling, switchgear and controls.
There’s the usual Terrain Response adaptive-terrain system (Version 2), which will have the new All Terrain Progress Control (think Toyota’s Crawl Control, or a cruise control for low-speed offroad work), Wade Aid and all the usual Land Rover offroad innovations such as gradient release control. There appears to be no new offroad tech systems on the Discovery we haven’t seen on other Land Rover models.
The vehicle will be offered with seven seats, and there’s “Intelligent Seat Fold technology” which allows you to individually configure the seating using an app on your phone. That’s a positive move, but there’s two drawbacks compared to the older moder; while the second row is now electric-foldable, we did note the seats didn’t quite fold flat. The previous Discovery offered a totally flat loadspace of over 2m when the second and third row were locked flat. There was also no tumble-forward option on the seats. The first and second row can be heated/cooled, and the third row heated – but we’re not sure that’ll be available on all models.
The second row is now a 40:60 split instead of the useful 40:20:40 three-way split as before, which I found very handy when I owned one. That said, the back of the central seat can fold flat independently of the rest of the seat back.
Here’s the rear control panel for the seats:
And a press shot of the interior. Often the middle-second row is a bit of an afterthought seat, but not in the new Discovery.
The total storage volume is reduced by 29L on the new model, not great news for those who intend to pack the car and then go offroad touring. That’s despite the car being 141mm longer than before, at 4970mm, and with a 23mm longer wheelbase. It is slightly narrower and not quite as tall.
One improvement is the fitting of ISOFIX child restraints and tether to the third row, a rare but important feature. There are the usual two ISOFIX mounts on the outboard second row seats.
The tailgate is also changed. Gone is the two-piece horizontal split, and now it’s a single-piece unit, powered of course. Interestingly, the Volvo XC90 also lost its split in the current model. However, the Discovery has a fold-down mini ledge at the back, naturally electrically operated.
Not a huge amount of room aft of the third row compared to XC90 and LC200, and the cargo blind doesn’t stow away under-floor.
There are handy dual pockets for things like phones and tablets. We want to see more of that!
Kids are going to love the plethora of 12v sockets and 5v USB outlets.
Dual-level centre storage. There’s even a hidden storage compartment in the front console. And yes, lots of USB ports.
One of the hidden storage comparments. Remember those stereos with removeable faces?
Offroaders will appreciate the new location of the air compressor – at the back, away from potential damage unlike the previous model, and that you can get to the full-sized underslung spare without needing to raise the third row. However, the release isn’t in the tailgate jamb which is the ideal location, it’s still in the cargo bay. The turning circle is also now 12.3m kerb-to-kerb, up from the previous model’s notably tight 11.45m.
The Discovery is some 480kg lighter than the previous model, uses the same advanced 8-speed auto, and will have Land Rover’s class-leading electronics, plus greater wheel travel. All this means it should be even more capable offroad than the already-good Discovery 4. Wading depth is increased to 900mm too, at offroad suspension height. Towing will still be 3500kg braked.
There are two offroad suspension heights; +40mm for speeds of up to 80km/h, and +75mm for speeds below 50km/h, unlike the older model which auto-lowered to normal height above 50km/h unless you had one of various aftermarket mods to fix it. This addresses a problem I once used an entire feature article to complain about – many Aussie tracks require high clearance but you often travel above 50km/h. No more lowering of the car and then the compressor complaining about overheating as you jack it back it!
Ground clearance is 283mm in the highest offroad mode of +75mm, and a handy 248mm in the lower offroad height. Advanced Tow Assist is apparently able to back trailers for you. The all-wheel drive system has a nominal 50:50 front:rear torque split, but that can be varied by the computers.
Some welcome news is that high- and low-range can be selected at speeds of up to 60km/h, similar to older Discovery models. Land Rover deleted that feature and forced the more recent models to be stopped before low-range could be selected.
Engines for Australia will be a Td4 132kW/430Nm, SD4 177kW/500Nm, and TD6 190kW/600Nm. All Discoverys wil be all-wheel drive, diesel, automatic and have 7 seats and low range – although some overseas models are single range. Safety is improved, with features such as lane keep assist, 360 degree camera, adaptive cruise and AEB. Land Rover haven’t said, but we would expect a new car like this to gain a 5-star ANCAP rating – the current model is unrated, and the older Discovery 3 was rated 4-star in 2009.
With the all-new Discovery in the background, Land Rover’s team of elite offroad instructors were still offering free rides in current Land Rover products, showcasing their ability. Won’t be long before the all-new Discovery is atop that ramp!