2016’s most wanted: 10) Range Rover’s ‘X3’ and 11) Land Rover Discovery, CAR+ December 2015 | CAR Magazine

2016’s most wanted: 10) Range Rover’s ‘X3’ and 11) Land Rover Discovery, CAR+ December 2015

Published: 10 November 2015 Updated: 16 November 2015

► 2016’s most wanted cars: #11 Land Rover Discovery
► #10 is Range Rover’s X3 and Q5 rival
► Discovery makes a swiss army knife look useless 

The 2004 Discovery was arguably the least ‘styled’ car of the decade. Four doors without crease or contour, ugly but protective plastic wheelarches, myriad square or rectangular motifs from the rearmost sideglass to the chunky front bumper, Geoff Upex’s creation was a Bauhaus masterpiece: maximum functionality, minimum adornment. To these eyes, it was an icon. To Land Rover, it was a polarising design statement that repelled too many prospects, and it had to go.   

So this is the new Discovery, coming summer 2016. Admittedly, it’s the 2014 Vision show car, but that car IS the new Discovery, down to its slanted waistline, slitty lamps and sculpted bodysides. It’s every inch the vogueish crossover, rather than bluff SUV. Here’s what else you can expect.

1) The concept

Range Rover majors on luxury, Defender on capability, and the Discovery family is all about versatility. ‘In Discovery you’ll see an absolute focus on this: they’ll be the most versatile cars in the segments in which they compete,’ then-group marketing director Phil Popham told CAR. ‘Discoverys will offer efficient and creative use of space, re-configurability especially of seating position, and the ability to take seven people comfortably.’

So far, so familiar. One detail that is changing is today’s two-piece tailgate, which makes way for a conventional hatchback. Expect there to be a clever fold-out shelf, which you can use for a picnic table/seat/paparazzi shots of the next royal baby. Versatile, eh?

An aluminium moncoque will slash a few hundred kilos off the total weight

2) The toys 

The Disco’s five rear seats will fold, slide and stow independently, and will be fully motorised. Expect the configuration process to be effortless and options almost limitless. If there’s four of you, power the middle row out of the way and wallow in legroom to shame a limousine. Seats will fold into mini-tables too. Sadly a lot of the Discovery Vision concept’s technologies aren’t yet ready for production – remote-control driving and laser-guided wading – but the Discovery will have serious off-road ability. You set the obstacle on the Terrain Response dial – shifting sands, rocks, mud up to the wheel centres – and let the electronics precisely meter torque to axles and individual wheels for insatiable progress.

3) The structure 

The outgoing Discovery’s Achilles’ heel is its obesity, bellyflopping it into the list of the UK’s heaviest cars. Blame the T5 platform, with its old-fashioned body-on-frame design. The new model will slash hundreds of kilos off the kerbweight, by switching to the aluminium monocoque chassis that underpins the big Range Rovers. Agility, performance and economy will be transformed, especially with the return of the four-pot Disco: a 200bhp+ 2.0-litre diesel with twin turbos is rumoured to be in the works. There’ll be six-cylinder, V8 and hybrid engines too. Expect sales in the autumn.

Number 10 – Range Rover’s ‘X3’ 

The Evoque has been a gamechanger. It proved a smaller Range Rover was just as desirable as a big one, gave JLR the confidence to push more avant-garde design, and raked in cash. In late 2016, Land Rover will again mine this successful formula, with a new, fourth Range Rover model.

Codenamed L560, the premium 4×4 is positioned between Evoque and Range Rover Sport – precisely where its rivals, the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, sit.

Sleek aluminium 4x4 Range Rover will sit in between the Sport and Evoque models, putting it into direct competition with Audi's Q5 and BMW's X3

Sources say the five-door SUV’s design takes the Evoque formula and makes it more aggressive and dynamic. Under the skin, L560 has an aluminium chassis, like the big Range Rovers and Jaguar F-Pace (pictured above). The lightweight construction will be novel in its class, and help maximise economy and cut emissions.

While Jag’s F-Pace has an on-road bias, L560 will have a higher ride height and be primed to conquer off-road, using its adaptable four-wheel drive selected by a Terrain Response controller. Core engine is the four-pot ‘Ingenium’ diesel, and its 2.0-litre petrol cousin should be ready for L560.   

Rangie’s X3 could sell up to 80,000 units a year, with prices starting around £40,000. We predict another smash hit – just like the Evoque.

By CJ Hubbard

Head of the Bauer Digital Automotive Hub and former Associate Editor of CAR. Road tester, organiser, reporter and professional enthusiast, putting the driver first