Land Rover Discovery facelift (2009) spy photos

Published: 09 December 2008

This is Land Rover’s new facelifted Discovery 3, testing in the UK almost undisguised ahead of a show debut expected at Geneva in March 2009. Expect a raft of new engines, mild interior tweaks and – although not instantly obvious at first glance – significant exterior tweaks.

Significant exterior tweaks? This Land Rover Discovery test car doesn’t look that different to me…

Then look closer. Obvious changes are the jewel-effect, Range Rover-inspired clear tail lamps with LED lights, plus that new rear spoiler which helps to round off the Tonka Toy looks of the current car.

There are also various new chrome trimmings on the new Disco (on the flanks, mirrors and front grille) and, wait for it, orange indicator lenses. We also spy thinner strakes across the grille, to provide better breathing for the new engines.

Such changes might not sound like much, but the exterior tweaks will mark the first significant facelift of the Discovery 3. It’s soldiered on with only minor model year changes since launch in 2004.

What about under the Discovery’s bonnet?

The registration of the second car in our pictures – VX58GVN – confirms this Disco is running a 2997cc engine, the new diesel motor being developed by Jaguar and Land Rover from the existing 2.7-litre Ford-PSA oil burner. But while Jaguar uses a twin-turbo set-up, it’s not yet clear whether Land Rover will stick with the single blower it has today or adopt the new dual-blower system wholesale.

But we hear the new 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine being developed by Jaguar and Land Rover won’t make it to the facelifted Discovery. Instead it’ll be reserved for the revised Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, which will also be revealed in 2009. In Jaguar guise the new V8 will produce 400bhp in naturally aspirated form, but Land Rover might sacrifice some outright power for a little extra torque. The petrol and diesel engines in all three cars will eventually be mated to a ZF eight-speed automatic that’s compatible with stop/start and mild hybrid systems.

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy