High-performance SVO arm turns its attention to the full-sized Range Rover
Ever since Jaguar Land Rover opened its Special Vehicle Operations division a couple of years back, it has been obvious that a performance Range Rover was high on its agenda. The question was, how hot would it be?
Land Rover’s new SUV-coupe is just months away from launch and will slot into the model line-up between the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport
Land Rover is poised to unveil the most radical-looking Range Rover in history: a mid-sized SUV-coupe designed to lay down the toughest challenge yet to Porsche’s all-conquering Macan and rivals such as the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.
LAND Rover is on roll. Its Discovery Sport is selling like hot cakes, and the Range Rover flagship has taken on – and beaten – the Bentley Bentayga, so the pressure is on for the all-new Discovery to continue the success story. There’s certainly no denying the imposing Discovery has some big boots to fill. Over the past three decades, the first four generations of this rugged and practical SUV have racked up an amazing 1.2 million sales. Continue reading “New Land Rover Discovery On Track”
Land Rover’s design HQ is expanding. It has to if it’s to cope with the wave of new product that’s coming over the next few years. Range Rover, Land Rover, Defender: the brand lives in three distinct silos now, having morphed from British Leyland country bumpkin into one of the glittering jewels of the car industry. An insatiable appetite for SUVs has helped. But a highly astute design philosophy has played a major part too, as has a growing reputation for engineering integrity and ingenuity.
LR’s chief design officer Gerry McGovern occupies an impressively stark mezzanine office, and is a man possessed of a clear strategic vision. There may be a fluffy white cat around somewhere, but I can’t see it. Having just been inside the all-new Discovery, I can confirm that there’s ample room to safely swing one (metaphorical, obvs).
‘Design creates an emotional connection between our customers and our vehicles,” Gerry says. “We truly believe the new Discovery is a radical design departure that will introduce the car to a new and wider customer base.”
If it doesn’t look all that radical, it’s probably because it’s very similar to 2014’s New York Vision Concept, or indeed a Discovery Sport that’s been inflated by an industrial-size straw in the exhaust. Personally, I reckon the outgoing Disco is a masterpiece of modern product design, although its bluff surfacing polarised opinion. The new one won’t. But when it drives into LR’s daylight viewing area – always essential to see how natural light plays off a car – it makes the old car look just that.
In fact, McGovern orders two new Discoverys into the atrium for inspection: one is in standard trim; the other wears Dynamic Design apparel, which runs to different bumpers, black or grey contrast roof, 21 or 22in alloy wheels, and badge deletion. Stealthy. There’s greater visual differentiation than you might think, but both are unquestionably 21st-century Land Rovers sophisticated, modern, chiselled to within an inch of their lives. “We love the original Discovery,” Gerry says, “but I’m not sure it was ever actually designed.”
The new one – Disco 5 – makes that car look antediluvian. The windscreen has a “faster” rake, the stepped roof is intact and there are castellations round the wheelarches. At the rear, the new Disco gets horizontal rear LEDs, signalling the end of the split tailgate. It’s more dynamic looking, says McGovern, but also increases the loading aperture, while a rear spoiler optimises aero and stops the rear end getting too mucky. There’s also a new fold-out inner section that can support 300kg, for hunting, shooting or fishing, and the new Disco has a best-in-class 3,500kg towing capacity.
The drag coefficient is an impressive 0.33, a significant improvement on the Discovery’s barn-door predecessors, with the efficiency benefits that accrue. There’s some great detailing: on SE models and above, there are “lightpipe” elements in the front lights that glow from white to amber when you’re indicating. Indeed, the front seven-cluster LEDs have no fewer than five different lighting modes.
Rugged new 4×4 will get even more advanced off-road tech than latest Discovery
The new Defender, Land Rover’s forthcoming replacement for the much-lamented 67-year-old icon that finally went out of production late last year, will make use of technology even more modern than that adopted by the recently launched, all-new Discovery when it finally hits the market at the beginning 2019.
“Land Rover is determined to make the new Defender the world’s most capable off-road vehicle”
Land Rover, which over the past 20years has cleverly adapted conventional anti-lock braking and traction control systems to pioneer Hill Descent Control and Terrain Response for its strong-selling 4×4 models, is determined to make the new Defender the world’s most capable off-road vehicle. It is also understood to have further electronic enhancements for the chassis systems under final development in time for Defender production to begin.
The forthcoming off-roader, whose major engineering is complete, is currently being tested in prototype format secret locations around the world.
Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth told at the recent Paris show that he had been testing Defender mules, which were very promising, and that the styling, also complete barring a few details, looked “fantastic”.
Compared with other recent Land Rover models, which have sold well from the beginning, Land Rover has appeared to struggle with the business case for the new Defender. This is probably why the project has been delayed, why production of the outgoing model was extended at least twice and why there will be a three-year gap between the old car’s demise and the launch of its replacement.
Some years ago Land Rover bosses cited 2015 as the ideal launch date for a new Defender, which begins the third part of the firm’s ’three-pillar’ model strategy. Bosses have always said the company’s future will depend on three families, or pillars, namely Defender, Discovery and Range Rover.
The nub of the delay, according to industry watchers, is concern that sales of the old Defender have rarely reached 20,000 per year in recent years, well short of a modern economic level for profitable production. The idea of killing the Defender plan altogether has also been discussed at times but dismissed.
Under the circumstances, the company is understandably reluctant to discuss produ ction levels of the new Defender, but it’s clear that 50,000-plus sales a year will be needed in order to make the next- generation model successful.
This accounts for clear signs by Land Rover’s designers of throttling back on design ‘toughness’ for the latest Discovery, in turn leaving plenty of space in the line-up for a new family of Defenders. Crucially, Speth confirmed in Paris that the new Defender would be based on the aluminium architecture of the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Discovery, meaning it can share the all-aluminium body shop and final assembly procedures of these models.
“Land Rover intends to expand the Defender’s appeal by producing civilised and hardcore versions”
However, Speth also confirmed that the Defender’s structure would need “a lot of different elements” to deliver the extremes of strength and durability customers will expect of Land Rover’s most capable off-roader.
“It was one of the saddest moments of my career to end production of the old Defender,” Speth said. “So we are working very hard to give it an authentic successor.”
However, despite the authenticity aims, it is clear Land Rover intends to expand the Defender’s market appeal by producing both civilised and hardcore versions of its new model in order for it to be sold as a do-it-all vehicle in the way the old Defender never was.
Despite the riddle of the business case, Land Rover bosses know they need the Defender and say it will develop into a family of models. The Defender is certain to share the two wheelbases of the Range Rover – 2922mm and 3120mm in standard and long-wheelbase guises respectively – but its overhangs are likely to be shorter, especially at the rear, and its ground clearance and arrival, departure and break-over angles will give it greater off-road agility than any other Land Rover.
The overall length of the different models is likely to be around 200 to300mm less than the Range Rover’s 4999mm and 5199mm lengths, which will make the Defenders smaller and more manoeuvrable than their siblings. There’s no word on a three-door model, but given the likely 4.7-4.8m length of even the shorter version, Land Rover may decide against it.
The Defender’s possible low volume and low prices relative to its aluminium siblings mean it will most likely be built at Land Rover’s new Slovakian plant, announced at the end of last year, where manufacturing costs will be lower than in the UK. JLR has previously said production in the Slovakian facility, which will be able to make the firm’s aluminium models, will begin before the end of this year at an “ initial capacity” of 150,000 vehicles a year, but those who have seen the new complex believe it will eventually make far more than that. Production plans may swell further if Britain’s exit from the EU results in tariff barriers for UK-made models.
Speth said the first model to be built in Slovakia would be “something we know how to make already” – possibly the Jaguar F-Pace.
Confirmation of aluminium construction for the new Defender gives plenty of clues to its mechanical layout. A longitudinal front mounting for the engine was always considered likely, along with a separate transfer case offering high and low-ratio gear sets, but until now the fact had never been confirmed.
The suspension is likely to be a version of the Discovery/Range Rover’s all-independent set-up, with steel springs, as used in entry-level versions of the outgoing Discovery 4, given that Defender drivers are predicted to put a low priority on the adjustable ride height that’s possible with air springs.
The new Defender looks certain to use four-cylinder versions of JLR’s modular Ingenium engines, made at the new – and already expanding – factory near Wolverhampton. But while the outgoing Defender had only one engine option, a diesel, uncertainty over the future demand for and manufacturing costs of diesels in Europe, plus a clear preference for petrol in the US and Asia, make it probable that the Defender will be offered with both kinds of engine. As with the Ingenium-engined Discovery Sportand Range Rover Evoque, the new Defender is also expected to be offered with a choice of manual and automatic gearboxes.
Two years out, there’s no word on prices, but Land Rover has been good at charging for ‘premiumness’ and has become used to hiking its prices with little penalty. Experts predict a starting price of around £35,000 for the Defender, with most examples selling for £40,000-plus. Anyone who wants a cheaper model than that will have to wait for the rumoured ‘baby’ Land Rover, which isn’t expected for three years at least.
THE DEFENDER THAT WASN’T
There was a time, back in 2011, when we thought Land Rover’s DC100 concepts – revealed in three-door hard-top and open-top guises – might be the new Defender. The company allowed us to think it held strong clues.
But the DC100 wasn’t the new Defender. It finished up showing what the Defender would not be. While we approved, the Defender faithful emphatically did not. They reckoned it too slight, too small and simply not imposing enough to rule as the new icon. Looking back, especially with the extra insight brought by last year’s end-of-Defender celebrations, they were right.
One thing the DC100 did, though, was to demonstrate that a move towards a greater breadth of function was in the minds of the model’s creators, led by design director Gerry McGovern. However, having been roundly criticised once, McGovern and his team have shown us no more ideas, although there have been plenty. The next one we see will be real and, partly thanks to the DC100, you can bet it’ll look like a true flagship.
CAN AN ICON BE REINVENTED?
Gerry McGovern, Land Rover’s head of design, has proved time and again that he has the Midas touch when it comes to both respecting heritage and reinventing for the future. Few design teams, if any, have got it so consistently right in modern times, be it redefining established market leaders (Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Discovery Sport) or smashing open all-new sectors (Evoque and, yes, Evoque Convertible).
Yet with the Defender, McGovern and his team face their biggest challenge yet. The goal is no less than reinventing an icon, giving it broad enough appeal to triple sales from where the old vehicle left off without denting the credibility of a car that, even in its current absence, is the anchor of the Land Rover brand.
Be in no doubt that, even in these days of booming soft-roader sales, the rough-and-tumble, all-terrain, go-anywhere abilities of the Defender are what underpin Land Rover as an authentic, heritage-laden 4×4 brand.
A hardcore Defender legitimises Land Rover’s branching out into ‘lifestyle’ sectors, as has been done so successfully with the Evoque and, to a degree, the new Discovery. For a parallel, look only to Jaguar, whose bosses knew well that the F-Pace and its imminent extended SUV family would never wash without first being underpinned by the F-Type.
Can it be done? The target of 50,000 sales a year is modest – few other cars would be developed for such volume gains – but it remains a tall order to retain the cult appeal of a 67-year-old design while adding enough modernity to draw in new buyers. That the launch date has already been put back several years, and the DC100 concept quietly swept aside, shows how hard the task is.
Even so, if past form is a guide, McGovern and co will find an answer.
This is the new, fifth-generation Land Rover Discovery, which was finally unveiled last week at the Paris Motor Show.
The popular family SUV gets a new platform and revised engines (including, for the first time, a four-cylinder diesel), and promises to usher in a new level of comfort and fuel efficiency when it reaches UK dealers next spring. It will be built at JLR’s facility in Solihull, West Midlands.
Gerry McGovern’s design team at Land Rover has given the new edition of the 26-year-old model a more sophisticated, softer-edged look, that moves it away from the blunt styling that’s gone before, and brings it into line with the Discovery Sport.
This risks alienating existing long-term Discovery enthusiasts, who may consider the new car too upmarket for daily abuse such as towing horseboxes and caravans. However, the latest Disco leaves room in the Land Rover range for a more rugged seven-seat model that’s likely to form part of the reborn Defender family, due to start arriving before the end of the decade. In any case, Land Rover points out that the new car’s towing capacity is still 3,500kg.
The Mk5 Discovery is 4,970mm long – around 14 centimetres longer than the fourth generation – but sits slightly lower, with a roofline of 1,846mm, compared with the outgoing car’s 1,912mm. The Discovery’s switch to Land Rover’s aluminium construction slashes around 480kg from the car’s weight. This, in turn, has allowed the company to plumb in additional safety kit plusher materials and greater soundproofing – as well as introducing Jaguar Land Rover’s Ingenium 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel to the line-up.
The four-cylinder Discovery will be the cleanest model in the line-up at launch – although the car will likely benefit from plug-in hybrid technology during its lifetime. Badged SD4 and paired with an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox, the 2.0-litre model will have 237bhp and 500Nm of torque; enough fora 0-60mph time of 8.0 seconds, but fuel economy of 43.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 171g/km.
The other two engines in the UK market will be a pair of 3.0-litre V6s – a diesel called TD6, with 255bhp and 600Nm, and a supercharged Si6 petrol with 335bhp and 450Nm. The more potent diesel beats its smaller sibling to 60mph (7.7 seconds) and gets close on efficiency, with fuel consumption of 39.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 189g/km.
“The new Disco is claimed to be even more capable in poor conditions”
The petrol is likely to be a tiny seller in the UK; it’s the fastest in the range, with a 0-60mph time of 6.9 seconds, but its average economy of 26.0mpg and 256g/km CO2 emissions wall make it an expensive option.
The Discovery has a strong reputation for off-roading ability and Land Rover claims the new edition is even more capable in poor conditions. The combination of double-wishbone front suspension, an integral link at the rear and air-suspension (standard across the range) means ground clearance can be extended where required, to up to 283mm.
A two-speed transfer box is fitted on all models, and Land Rover’s All-Terrain Progress Control tech is also standard.
It allows the driver to focus on steering while the vehicle controls speed.
In the UK, the Discovery will be sold as a seven-seat model only. Its boot capacity with the third row in place is 258 litres, but with only two rows raised there’s a useful 1,137 litres of storage. Folding down the third, fourth and fifth seats increases its load bay to 2,406 litres.
The new car gets Isofix child seat mounting points in the second and third rows (from SEtrim upwards), and all but the front seats can be lowered and raised electrically using either the touchscreen in the dashboard or a smartphone app.
The new infotainment screen can be as large as 10 inches, if the InControl Touch Pro system is specified.
Pricing for the Discovery will remain roughly the same; entry-level S trim, which is available with the 5D4 engine only, costs £43,495. $E adds some extra kit from £49,495, while the top trims are HSE and HSE Luxury, costing from £56,995 and £62,695 respectively.
All of these are available with either the SD4, TD6 or Si6 engines. At launch, one of 600 TD6-powered ‘First Edition’ cars will cost from £68,295.
Fifth generation of Land Rover’s large SUV on sale next spring, priced from £43k
Land Rover’s all-new, fifth-generation Discovery is faster, lighter, more economical and cleaner-running than the model it replaces, even though it is bigger inside and out.
The new model adopts many styling cues from the influential Discovery Vision concept unveiled at the 2014 New York motor show. Its sleek and curvaceous lines deliberately ditch the square-jawed toughness of the outgoing Discovery 4 to make way for the first of the new Defender family, promised for 2018-2019.
“The new Discovery represents a massive shift in design terms from the current one,” said design boss Gerry McGovern. “But I think we’ve managed it without losing the essence of its practicality, capability and versatility.”
Much of the Mk5 Discovery’s new-found efficiency flows from the adoption of a new twin-turbo version of JLR’s in-house 2.0-litre four-cylinder Ingenium diesel engine, which produces a healthy 369lb ft but emits a modest 171g/km of CO2.
The other economy driver is a a 480kg reduction in kerb weight compared with the outgoing model. It also helps that the Discovery’s frontal area is reduced and the aerodynamic drag coefficient is just 0.33, which is impressively low for a full-size SUV.
The new Discovery’s 20% weight saving is the result of Land Rover’s decision to ditch the tough but heavy steel ladder chassis of previous models in favour of a riveted and bonded aluminium monocoque shell, widely adopted across the rest of the Jaguar and Land Rover ranges.
The change means the Discovery can now be made alongside the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, beginning life in JLR’s vast aluminium bodyshopin Solihull.
“The new Discovery has been designed from the inside out to provide seating for seven adults”
Land Rover says it has designed the new Discovery from the inside out to provide adult-size seating for seven and adhere to the established Discovery tradition of ‘stadium’ seating, whereby the second and third rows of seats are positioned higher than the one in front. The seats are power operated and can be remotely configured in a variety of positions, either via the fascia’s 10.0in touchscreen, by controls inside the tailgate aperture or, uniquely, with a smartphone app.
The emphasis on interior space has encouraged the designers to stick with the Discovery’s traditional stepped roof line, which provides enough head room for all but the tallest 5% of adults in the third row of seats.
Luggage space is more generous than ever, and the Mk5 Discovery returns to a one-piece tailgate, albeit a top- hinged design rather than the side-opening model of the first and second Discovery models. There’s now a powered loading platform that slides out to provide the comfortable table- cum-seat the previous model’s lower-half tailgate offered. When the tailgate is closed, the same panel can stand vertically as a load divider.
“Ground clearance has increased by 43mm and the wading height by 200mm to a class-best 900mm”
The push for improved cabin space has driven the Discovery’s 140mm increase in overall length (to 4970mm) and 40mm increase in wheelbase (to 2923mm), but the move away from a twin-rail chassis has allowed a lower floor in the new car and therefore a 40mm reduction in roof height. In spite of this, ground clearance has actually increased by 43mm and the wading height has improved by 200mm to a class-best 900mm.
To improve things further, the all-independent, self-levelling air suspension can be lowered by as much as 40mm at rest to an “access height’’ that facilitates entry or loading.
All powertrains are paired with an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox. The entry-level engine is a new 237bhp twin-turbo version of the 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel.
It delivers a combined fuel economy figure of 43.5mpg and a C02 output of 171g/km but will still propel the newly lightened Discovery to 60mph from rest in a claimed 8.0sec.
The middle engine, the 3.0-litre V6 diesel, makes 255bhp and returns 32.9mpg combined, along with 189g/km of C02. It covers the 0-60mph sprint in a claimed 7.7sec.
The range-topping engine is a supercharged 3.0-litre petrol V6, which has figures of 355bhp, 26.0mpg combined and 256g/km, with a claimed 0-60mph time of 6.9sec.
Land Rover predicts that the Ingenium four will become the most popular choice of engine.
Land Rover says the Mk5 Discovery is its most capable off-roader yet, with its ability enhanced by the lighter weight, better ground clearance and improved wading ability.
It still uses a transfer box to provide a separate low range of ratios for extreme off-road use and has a standard 50/50 torque split. However, torque can be varied electronically either via the latest Terrain Response 2 system (which provides a variety of off-road configurations on a console- mounted dial control), or the system will configure itself automatically using information from sensors that monitor road and driving conditions.
A recent Land Rover refinement is All Terrain Progress Control (ATPC), which lets the driver select an appropriate crawling speed for very tough or low-grip conditions, to concentrate entirely on the steering.
There are four equipment levels-S,SE,HSE and HSE Luxury – while prices range from £43,495 to £65,695 before the addition of optional equipment, of which Land Rover offers a bewildering array. Wheel sizes start at 18in on the S model and proceed through 19in and 20in to 21s on the HSE Luxury, while 22in wheels are on the options list.
Standard equipment in every Discovery includes seven adult-size seats, an automatic gearbox, four-wheel drive with high and low ranges, a 10.0in infotainment touchscreen on the fascia, a powered tailgate and autonomous emergency braking.
The plushest models come with up to nine USB ports, four 12V charging points and an in-car 3G wi-fi hotspot.
The infotainment system – which extends to a top-line 17-speaker Meridian Audio system – is controlled from the l0.0in central touchscreen.
Reacting to concerns about the recent hacking of cars with remote keys, Land Rover has invented what it calls an Activity Key, which is carried on a wristband worn by the owner and, when in use, locks out all other keys.
The new Discovery will go on sale next spring, with the first 600 vehicles specially badged as high-spec launch editions.
There will also be an early ‘stealth’ edition, officially dubbed the Dynamic Design Pack, which comes with leather trim, sports wheels and pedals, privacy glass and special colours with a contrasting roof.
Land Rover is already confident about the new Discovery’s prospects, having sold 1.2 million examples of its predecessors since the original model was launched in 1989.
“Demand has always been strong in our home market,” said JLR’s UK managing director, Jeremy Hicks. “We expect the new model to build on this, offering customers the most complete all-round SUV package available anywhere.”
INEOS, a multinational chemical company that has been linked with the rebirth of the Land Rover Defender, has admitted that it intends to build a new interpretation of the off-roader, rather than update the old one. It could rival the new Defender, due in 2018.
The company has been the subject of intense speculation in recent weeks, after rumours linked boss Jim Ratcliffe with an arrangement that could have brought the Defender back to life. JLR sources had been quick to quash the speculation, however, asserting that: “No one is building our Defender.”
In an exclusive interview with Auto Express, INEOS director Tom Crotty told Auto Express: “Conversations with JLR confirm they are committed to the Defender. We want to build something that has the look and capability of a Defender, but with improved reliability.”
Describing the Range Rover as the best car in the world is no exaggeration. The sheer breadth of the capabilities of the third-generation Rangie (as it is affectionately known) was truly awesome. Developed by BMW in the late ’90s, it set new SUV standards with air suspension, voice-activated satellite navigation, the heave of a hot hatch, and the mountain-climbing tenacity of Sherpa Tenzing.
If ever there was an accidental success story it’s that of the Range Rover Classic. It was introduced in 1970 for the English county set, in the belief that a robust four-wheel drive vehicle that was more comfortable than the utilitarian Land Rover would go down well with those who rode horses, shot birds, hunted, attended agricultural shows and were always surrounded by wet dogs. As such, the first Range Rovers had vinyl seats and plastic dashboards that could be hosed down after green wellies tramped mud into the car. Continue reading “Range Rover Classic – 1970”
From sturdy acorns mighty oaks may grow – and that’s certainly what happened in the case of Land Rover. For the inspired Series 1 was the forerunner of a vehicle type that would reach its zenith half a century later when the SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) became the transport of choice for millions.