Land Rover’s all-new Discovery 3 is a technology-packed, premium SUV designed to deliver outstanding performance, both on the road and off-road. The bold, versatile design is distinctively Land Rover and offers exceptional space, comfort and flexibility, for up to seven adults.
“The Discovery 3 is a new generation Land Rover, a vehicle of great conviction that points the way forward for the company,” says managing director Matthew Taylor. “As you would expect from a Land Rover, it is awesome off-road. What may be more surprising to some is its great performance on-road too.
The result is the widest breadth of capability in the class.”
It is the first vehicle wholly developed by the new management team that took over Land Rover in July 2000, following the purchase by Ford Motor Company. It replaces the current Discovery, one of the best-selling SUVs in its class.
Spacious and confortable
Roomier yet externally not much bigger than the outgoing Discovery, the new Discovery 3 features a spacious cabin packed with clever stowage locations, as well as either five or seven comfortable seats. Even the third-row seats in the seven-seat version are roomy enough for 95th percentile adults. All rear seats fold into the floor when not in use, to create a vast, flat load space. According to design director Geoff Upex, the vehicle was designed ‘from the inside out’.
“Our priorities were cabin space, comfort, the Command driving position and elevated ‘stadium seating’ in the rear,” says Upex. “The exterior design is a reflection of those interior priorities. It is very geometric, very minimalist, very modern. Everything is there for a reason. It is pure product design, rather than fancy automotive styling. The best vehicles inevitably are. It is also distinctively Land Rover. You won’t confuse this vehicle with anything else.”
Impressive angines, tailored for Land Rover needs
For dynamic on-road performance, the top-of-the-range engine option is a 4.4-litre 295bhp petrol V8, derived from Jaguar’s acclaimed AJ-V8 4.2-litre. Devel opments for Land Rover include increased low-end torque (maximum of 425Nm or 315lb ft), greater weather-proofing – especially against dust and water ingress – and revised breathing for wading in rivers. This is likely to be the most popular engine in the Discovery 3’s biggest market, the USA.
For Europe, the best-selling engine is expected to be the refined and flexible 2.7-litre TDV6 turbodiesel (not available in North America), a high pressure ‘common rail’ unit that uses variable geometry turbocharging. Another version of this new V6 recently made a much-praised debut in the Jaguar S-Type. The Land Rover engine has been extensively developed to suit the Discovery 3 and produces 190bhp (140kW) and a massive 440Nm (325lb ft) of torque. Technical advances include its CGI (compacted graphite iron) block, which is lighter, stiffer and more durable than conventional cast iron.
Selected markets will also take a 4.0-litre 215bhp petrol V6 engine that is torquey (360Nm or 265lb ft), smooth and durable. For Discovery 3, it too has been extensively developed to suit Land Rover’s unique requirements.
The petrol engines are mated to a six-speed ‘intelligent shift’ electronically controlled ZF automatic transmission. It offers a ‘sport’ mode which delivers more performance-oriented throttle response and gear shifts, and also features Land Rover’s Command Shift operation – which gives the driver full manual control of gear changing. The TDV6 is available either with this advanced automatic transmission, or with a six-speed ZF manual gearbox.
Drive goes to all four wheels. Electronic Traction Control and Dynamic Stability Control modulate power supply and braking, ensuring maximum grip in all conditions. Throttle response, gear change patterns and suspension settings are also computer controlled, determined by speed and road (or off-road) conditions. Low range is also available, for tough terrain. This can be easily selected, electronically, on the move. The central differential fully locks if conditions require greater traction.
USER-FRIENDLY NEW TECHNOLOGIES
The Discovery 3 bristles with new technologies. Among them is Land Rover’s patented Terrain Response™ system, previewed on the recent Range Stormer concept car. Terrain Response is a major advance that optimises driveability and comfort, as well as maximising traction. The driver simply chooses one of five terrain settings via a chunky rotary dial on the centre console: a general driving program, plus one for slippery conditions (known as grass/gravel/snow) and three special off-road modes, namely mud and ruts, sand, and rock crawl. Terrain Response then automatically selects the most appropriate settings for the vehicle’s advanced electronic controls and traction aids.
Vehicle functions controlled by Terrain Response include ride height, engine torque response, Hill Descent Control (which limits downhill speed, and is an award-winning and patented Land Rover technology), Electronic Traction Control, transmission and differential settings. “Terrain Response is a good example of Land Rover’s commitment to offering ‘smart’ technology that aids the driver,” says Matthew Taylor. “It is easy to use. It simplifies rather than complicates driving.”
The Discovery 3 also offers the option of adaptive headlights that swivel with the direction of travel to illuminate the road ahead.
Another innovation is Land Rover’s Integrated Body-frame™, a new type of vehicle architecture that combines the torsional rigidity, car-like handling and refinement of a monocoque (or unitary) body with the strength and versatility of a traditional ladder-frame, as used on many SUVs. Computer-aided design, high-strength steel and a sophisticated hydroforming production technique combine to deliver this new technology. Hydroforming uses high-pressure fluids rather than a press tool to shape the frame, which results in a lighter weight, cleverer shapes and much tighter tolerances.
Handling is further helped by fully independent suspension. Height adjustable air springs, similar to those used on the award-winning Range Rover, will be fitted to the majority of Discovery 3s. Entry-level models use coil springs. Double wishbones are used front and rear, offering good wheel control and articulation. Rack-and-pinion steering delivers precise and intuitive control.