The new Land Rover Discovery has been spotted once again out in the wild. This time, however, the car has been seen with only a very light disguise. The Discovery test car, shown with a dark metallic red body colour and white graphics, is the clearest image yet of how the new large SUV will eventually look. The all-new SUV will debut towards the end of 2016, and will go on sale in 2017.
A number plate check of the red test car revealed very little, but previous cars that have been spotted have been equipped with anything from 2.0-litre petrols to 3.0-litre diesels.
We’ve also spotted a prototype test mule in the most unlikely of places – the Nurburgring racetrack in Germany. It seems even dedicated off-roaders aren’t immune from the punishing ‘Green Hell’ treatment nowadays.
As you’d expect, the 2017 Discovery will be festooned with clever technology – as well as being more spacious and better both on and off-road than ever before. That’s not forgetting the fact that it’ll be noticeably posher inside, too.
There’s huge responsibility resting on the shoulders of the fifth-generation Discovery. Aside from having to tread a path so successfully dominated by its four predecessors, it’ll also headline one of Land Rover’s new brand ‘pillars’.
The Disco and the family beneath it will represent the ‘leisure’ pillar in the brand’s range, with the next defender family embodying ‘dual-purpose’ and Range Rover covering the ‘luxury’ arm. Sitting alongside the Discovery will be the Discovery Sport, launched last year, and an intriguing, as-yet-unspecified offshoot. This is set to arrive by the end of the decade, and is mooted to be even smaller than Range Rover’s Evoque.
Much like its Sport brother, the new Discovery (which we do know won’t be badged Discovery 5) will have sleek and curvaceous styling – not too far removed from the Discovery Vision Concept, Land Rover’s 2014 New York Motor Show star. Our images, backed up by revealing spy shots, show how the boxy styling Discos have enjoyed for 25 years has gone in an effort to give a more premium, less utilitarian look. The design will also help the model cut more cleanly through the air.
The bluff front end of the current car will give way to a softer approach with a clamshell bonnet – just like the Discovery Sport and Range Rover. Its side profile is boxier than those, however, and more in line with previous Discovery models. Meanwhile, the rear window is slightly raked with a spoiler-style surround.
Wraparound tail-lights help make the Discovery look narrower, and the current model’s Range Rover-style split tailgate makes way for a one-piece design. The Discovery’s trademark stepped roofline is still present, albeit slightly toned down.
Land Rover’s design boss Gerry McGovern told Auto Express last year that the Discovery Vision concept’s interior was just as vital to the story as the exterior, and we can expect the 2016 Disco to follow this idea. As before, it’ll get seven seats, but the middle and rear rows will be configurable to allow the car to remain a practical SUV. It’ll be roomier and feel more spacious, too, and – as with the Range Rover – will be lighter than at present, partly due to a monocoque structure.
Along with the striking exterior, the Vision Concept showcased the next step in Land Rover interiors. It featured the neat gesture-controlled JLR rotary gear selector, and similarly operated lights and indicators. Smart glass panels allowed info and data to be displayed on the roof and windscreen, and while this is perhaps a step too far for next year’s Discovery, it should feature a larger and crisper central touchscreen.
Top-line models will also get the option of laser headlights offering unparalleled vision, Land Rover’s clever Transparent Bonnet tech, and even remote drive that allows the driver to step out of the car and control it via their smartphone.
The company is being coy about the engines it’ll offer, but we expect the next Discovery to use Jaguar Land Rover’s new four-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel and petrol ingenium units. There will also be electric motors for hybrid drive. Larger petrols and diesels shouldn’t be ruled out, either, with the car in our spy shots revealing a Jaguar 3.0-litre supercharged V6 under the bonnet.