Touching brilliance

The Land Rover Discovery, now in its fifth generation, is frustratingly close to brilliance, writes William Scholes

THE first Land Rover Discovery hove into view a quarter of a century ago, crushing inhospitable terrain into submission with its full-fat four-wheel-drive system and winning fans with its mix of ability, comfort and space.

Since then, the landscape Land Rover operates in has changed beyond recognition. Where the Discovery was once the only socalled lifestyle SUV, never mind the only one with any sort of genuine off-road credentials, today the market is crowded with an endless stream of SUVs and crossovers vying for the same cash.

Land Rover itself has changed, too. Beneath the fresh thinking of its bodywork and Conran designed interior, the original Discovery was cobbled together using old parts found lying around the Rover Group parts bins - everything from Morris Marina door handles to Maestro van taillamps and Montego switchgear.

Such an obvious hand-me-down approach won't do for the 21st century iteration of Land Rover.

Now owned by giant Indian conglomerate Tata and paired with Jaguar, today's Land Rovers are positioned as premium products.

The 2005 version, called the Discovery 3, was a larger and more imposing vehicle than its predecessors.

That basic vehicle, a familiar and instantly identifiable sight on our roads thanks to its distinctive boxy profile, has been fettled and refined over the past decade, to the point that it has evolved into the car on this page, which Land Rover calls the Discovery 5.

Continued on Page 6


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