Loud and proud launch for new Land Rover Discovery
WHEN a model is as important to your company as the new Discovery is to Land Rover, you really need no excuse to give it an extra-special welcome, writes William Scholes.
But even by the hyperbolic standards of the motor industry, the Discovery launch was something else.
The centrepiece was the unveiling of the largest ever Lego model ever built - a replica of London's Tower Bridge made from 5,805,846 bricks - but that was topped, literally, by the arrival of adventurer and survival hero Bear Grylls abseiling from a helicopter.
Grylls, a sort of Ranulph Fiennes for the iPad generation, is a neat fit for the image the company wants its cars to convey, but to underline the immense capability of the Discovery, two more card-carrying Land Rover fans pitched up.
Americas Cup sailor Ben Ainslie was there. His Discovery carried his crew and towed a Lego model of their boat, made from a mere 186,500 bricks, through the 90cm deep 'River Thames' beneath Lego Tower Bridge.
Horse rider Zara Phillips was also on hand to demonstrate how the new Discovery fits in with an equestrian lifestyle.
The message Land Rover want to convey is clear: the Discovery is the transport of choice for outdoorsy types.
How many real customers abseil from helicopters or drive through rivers is another question, but the latest Discovery seems to further enhance the car's versatile family-car-par-excellence credentials.
Grylls said that for him, Land Rover vehicles "embody that spirit of adventure coupled with a rugged reliability that also serves the needs of a young family".
"The Land Rover Discovery is invaluable on expeditions, whether filming in deserts, jungles or mountains, yet it's still the perfect vehicle for the family's everyday use," he said - and if it's good enough for Bear it's good enough for me, though he presumably hasn't experienced a Discovery with wonky electronics as I have.
Of the car itself, Land Rover boasts that it is "best family SUV in the world", blending full-size three-rows of seats for seven passengers with the latest technology.
Innovations include seven adult-spec seats which can be configured via a smartphone, aluminium construction to shave almost half a tonne from the car's weight, the arrival of a four-cylinder diesel engine and the ability to tow 3.5 tonnes.
The new Discovery can be equipped with up to nine USB ports, four 12-volt charging sockets and an in-car wifi hotspot for up to eight devices - all that should be enough to keep teenagers happy.
It goes on sale next spring, priced from £43,495.