From this humble sketch has come one of the most successful automotive concepts ever to hit road & trail, and it has brought with it some very impressive new technologies along the way...
Has it really been 20 years since Land Rover introduced the world to the Discovery? Seeking to fill the void between the offer-no-apologies ruggedness of the Defender and the country-gentleman Range Rover, the Discovery – now the LR4 – accomplished its role far better than its engineers could ever have imagined.
“The Discovery legend has been built on innovative design and advanced technology. From the introduction of high-efficiency direct-injection diesel technology into the 4×4 market in 1989, to pioneering occupant safety with the adoption of twin airbags in 1998, Discovery has led the way.” Phil Popham, Land Rover managing director says.
“It is truly the best loved SUV the world over. Today, we sell the Discovery in 91 countries and sales to date have hit over and above 900,000,”
The coolest thing about the LR4 is that it never was any less of a Land Rover (remember the Camel Trophy?). It’s been put into service as an ambulance, a war machine, a tow vehicle, a police car, a search and rescue vehicle and a soccer team bus, yet it’s always taken its off-road heritage to heart, breaking ground – often for the first time ever – in some of the remotest places on Mother Earth. For the rest of us, it gave us a 7-passenger mall-hauler we could actually afford and the luxury of getting everyone home safe and comfortable in the very worst of conditions.
How’s it doing in Today’s economy? Land Rover posted promising growth in October in key markets such as the UK, Russia, China and India. In the UK, October sales were up 90% at 2,855 units, while China and India posted growth of 140.6% and 500% for the month. And, as Mr. Popham said, the LR4 has breached the 900,000 sales wall, which exceeded everyone’s (at least private) expectations.
The LR 4 gave us Tow Assist, which helps with tricky towing maneuvers, Trailer Stability Assist, which reduces torque and uses programmed braking to regain control over a snaking trailer. In 2004, the Discovery 3 introduced us to another first - Land Rover’s trademark Terrain Response - which optimizes engine, suspension and traction control settings for virtually any driving situation. In 2006, Land Rover launched a pioneering CO2 offset program with Climate Care which is now the biggest program of its kind in the world. The emissions from the first 45,000 miles of all new Land Rovers sold in an increasing number of markets is offset to help fund environmental projects on a global scale. Improvements introduced with the launch of the Discovery 4 earlier this year help deliver substantially lower emissions with the highly fuel efficient LR-TDV6 3.0 sequential turbo diesel, delivering over 30mpg on the combined EU cycle.
And it has been recognized. Two honors at the recent Caravan Club Towcar of the Year Awards are recent examples, but since its launch back in 2004, the vehicle has achieved global acclaim winning a staggering 111 awards worldwide, including SUV of the year in Mexico, Russia, The U.S., the U.K. and Greece.
Happy Birthday, LR4. And many happy returns.
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