The new Land Rover Discovery 5 has been revealed at simultaneous events in its native Coventry and Paris on the eve of the French capital's annual motor show. The seven-seater has a softer and more rounded design than its boxy predecessors and is filled with technology, including 4G internet, nine USB ports, and folding seats controlled by a smartphone app.
Land Rover's mission with the 2017 Discovery is to treat each of its seven occupants equally. The Discovery is sold as a seven-seater as standard in the UK. Each seat is full-size, meaning the third row is no longer exclusively for children. The company says 95% of the male population can fit in the third row, meaning the families the Discovery is aimed at should have no problems.
Storage for four iPads between the front seats, cubby holes for smartphones and tablets next to the rearmost seats, and infotainment driven by a 10in dashboard touch screen all point the new Discovery firmly at the modern, always-connected family. An onboard 4G internet connection allows up to eight devices to be online at once
The car's most talked-about technology feature is the way its seats can be folded and moved remotely with a smartphone app called InControl, available on Android and iOS. The app also offers remote control of the satnav, climate control and heated seats from anywhere in the world.
The need to fold seats away from a distance might not be obvious to some, but preparing the car for transporting six kids or an entire flat pack kitchen without clambering around and pulling levers is a welcome novelty.
Seat controls are also in the boot and by the door frames if smartphone apps aren't your thing. In all, there are 21 different seating configurations and to stop children or pets being crushed, or the seats causing damage to themselves, they are each fitted with sensors and 'crash-prevention' software.
The technology theme continues when you get behind the wheel. Shunning complete autonomy for now, Land Rover has improved the Discovery's blind spot warning. Where previously a light on the wing mirror flashes when a car is approaching in the next lane, the car will now actively steer itself back into its own lane if the driver tries to move out dangerously.
Borrowed from sister company Jaguar and its F-Pace SUV, the Activity Key is an optional extra for the Discovery. It is a wristband which doubles as a waterproof key, allowing you to lock the actual key fob in the car and wear the wristband while out surfing, for example, or whenever a regular key could be lost or damaged. Tapping the Activity Key on the boot lets you back in and reactivates the regular fob.
Toning down the iconic boxy design of previous Discoveries may be a shock to the Land Rover faithful, but a softer, smoother body was inevitable in a world more sensitive then ever to efficiency and emissions; a rounded body creates less drag, increasing efficiency and reducing emissions.
A move to further improve efficiency is the new Discovery's aluminium monocoque chassis, which saves 480kg over the previous model and makes it 20% lighter. This alone is claimed to improve fuel efficiency by 7%.
Jeremy Hicks, the UK managing director of Jaguar Land Rover, told IBTimes UK: "The styling is evolutionary. We have found the new vehicle really will appeal to a much broader church. We are now appealing to a bigger congregation than just our own."
Land Rover is marketing the new Discovery as the most family-friendly car in its range. Larger than the Evoque and Freelander, but with a stronger go-anywhere attitude than the celebrity-owned Range Rover, the Discovery is pitched as a 'luxury SUV', bridging the gap between ultimate comfort and refinement, and an ability to haul a family, dogs (and four iPads) to the beach.
The simple act of putting something in the boot is aided in three ways. First, waving a foot under the back of the car triggers a sensor which opens the tailgate; the suspension then lowers to make it easier to reach inside. Also helping here is the lack of the previous model's split folding tailgate. Instead, a new inner tailgate can be folded down to sit on.
Interior storage is something Land Rover is passionate about, and a self-confessed "addiction" has resulted in the new Discovery having 21 different storage areas and cubby holes throughout the cabin. This includes one hidden behind the climate controls, and one able to store and charge four iPads at once.
Land Rover may describe the new Discovery as a "luxury" car, but it is still capable of going off road. There is a hill descend mode for setting an exact speed while traversing difficult terrain or driving down a steep hill, and the car can drive through water up to 900mm deep, 200mm up on the last Discovery and almost double that of the first Range Rover.
There are three engines coming to the UK; four-and six-cylinder diesels (the latter being a V6), and a V6 petrol; power is 240, 258 and 340 horsepower respectively, while claimed miles-per-gallon is 43.5, 39.2 and 26.0, and acceleration to 60mph takes 8.0 seconds, 7.7 seconds and 6.9 seconds. All models comes with an automatic ZF eight-speed gearbox.
The new Discovery starts at £43.495 for the entry-level S version, rising to £62,695 for the HSE Luxury and topping out at £68,295 for a special First Edition model, of which 600 examples will come to the UK.