A Brief History of the Land Rover Discovery

If you are a Land Rover Discovery, LR3 or LR4 driver, you’ll no doubt be aware that the flagship Land Rover celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2014. Originally revealed to the world at the 1989 Frankfurt Motor show, the Discovery marked a significant departure for Land Rover.

Until the launch of the Discovery, “utility” was often placed before all else by Land Rover. The result was that many of their vehicles were notoriously uncomfortable.

The Discovery aimed to change all that and expand its marketplace by offering comfort and amenities that put it squarely in competition with passenger and family vehicles.

It’s worth noting that none of Land Rover’s legendary off-road capabilities were compromised in the new design. The Discovery boasted best-in-class performance, including ample power plants, a transfer case and locking differential, and a 100” wheel base linked to a coil-spring suspension.

Curiously, despite all the attention to detail in creating a vehicle that combined the hallmarks of Land Rover’s legend with the ride and functionality that more drivers and passengers wanted, the original Discovery was offered only in a three-door configuration. If designers wanted to attract more families and have greater passenger capabilities, they certainly weren’t thinking about the ease of getting into and out of the back seat!

But, within a year of the original launch, a five-door version was released.

There have been three generations of Discovery designs over the years.

Released in 1999, the Discovery Series II, named to evoke the iconic Land Rover Series II, introduced a broad range of new features including Hill Descent Control, Active Cornering Management and Self-Levelling Suspension.

The Discovery 3, known as the LR3 in North America, appeared in 2004 and represented a significant departure from the original design. The LR3 also boasted more impressive performance numbers from power plants like the 4.0 litre V6 coupled to 6-speed transmissions.

The current generation of Discovery, known as the LR4 in North America, is widely regarded as one of the most capable and versatile sports utility vehicles. It boasts impressive numbers, including 340 hp from its 3.0 litre supercharged engine, over 2,500 litres of cargo space and 3,500 kg towing capacity.

Regardless of which Discovery model you own, you are driving one of the most tried, tested and true Land Rovers ever.