Land Rover inaugurates age of Discovery

Genava Show: Discovery, like Range Rover, to expand from singleton into family

Land Rover is to turn its attentions from the newly expanded Range Rover lineup and begin concentrating on a revival of its Discovery, Defender and Freelander models, it has announced at Geneva. Marking also the 25th anniversary of the original Series I Discovery, Land Rover has confirmed that, as with Range Rover, the Discovery will expand from a single model into a whole family of vehicles, one which will incorporate the next-generaton Freelander.

It's expected that most of the models will be built on Land Rover's new flexible aluminium architecture, which it shares with Jaguar, but the Freelander (if that name survives the shakeup) will be based on the same steel chassis as the current Range Rover Evoque. That platform is still flexible enough that it could down-size to a much-touted Skoda Yeti rival (tentatively called the 'Landie') and stretch upwards to include a seven-seat model to rival the Hyundai Santa Fe and the forthcoming new Nissan X-Trail. The larger, aluminium Discovery models will focus on offering family practicality with some of the luxury touches from the Range Rover. All versions will benefit from being fitted with Jaguar-Land Rover's new 'Ingeneum' range of petrol and diesel four-cylinder engines and hybrid versions will be fitted to the larger cars to keep their emissions in check.

Land Rover brought nothing physical to Geneva to show (aside from a special XXV version of the current Discovery to mark that 25th anniversary) but it did show an ’Age Of Discovery’ logo which seems to show that the Disco’s iconic bluff-faced styling will morph into something softer and sleeker, while keeping the traditonal raised rear roof section and wraparound window shapes.

The move could also secure the future of the Defender model. Land Rover has ben agonising for more than a decade as to how to replace it’s evergreen 4x4, but it’s running out of both time and customers. The current Defender will shortly be forced off the road by incoming emissions and safety legislation, but many of its customer base are turning away in favour of rugged pickups such as the Toyota Hilux and Volkswagen Amarok.

A solution to the problem could be to pair the next Defender with the smaller Discovery models, modifying the simpler, cheaper steel chassis from the Evoque to undertake serious off-roading duty while trimming back on the technology levels to keep military and construction customers happy. Ritzier road-going models, using some of the more expensive add-ons from the rest of the Discovery family, could then be sold as expensive ‘halo’ models.