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New York show: Land Rover confirms Discovery plans

Vision quest: The Land Rover Discovery Vision concept features a platform that extends from under its boot via the tail-gate, which the company calls “social seating”.

High-tech Land Rover Discovery Vision concept previews family of new models

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Land Rover logo16 Apr 2014

LAND ROVER has previewed its next-generation Discovery as well as the future design of a family of Discovery-branded models with the Vision concept, to formally debut at the New York motor show this week.

The Indian-owned British marque released the official details of the concept after leaked images found their way online.

As previously reported, the venerable Discovery nameplate will become a sub-brand in its own right from 2015, with models sitting under it beyond the self-titled large SUV expected to include the Freelander replacement and a more hardcore off-roader.

The company said in a statement that the Discovery brand will “redefine” its position in the luxury off-road segment.

“With the best designed and most premium, practical, versatile vehicles in their class, the future Discovery range is set to fundamentally enhance the way drivers around the world take on the adventure of modern life,” the statement says.

While the Vision remains a concept at this stage, it is believed to provide the first look at the design of the fifth-generation Discovery, with Land Rover describing the styling as a “radical departure” from the iconic squared-off look of previous generation models.

The concept carries a far more modern design, with smooth lines replacing some of the harsh angles of the current model, while maintaining a clear relationship with its Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Evoque stablemates.

While marking a significant change in direction for the brand, Land Rover says the Vision concept retains some of the features that have made the Discovery one of the most popular four-wheel drives in recent times including alpine lights, command driving position, stadium seating, asymmetrical graphic on the rear number plate and a more subtle interpretation of the stepped roof.

Slim-line head-lights and a narrow grille dominate the front-end, while the styling of the grille is immediately recognisable as a Land Rover. Blacked-out A-pillars give the impression of a floating roof, a theme which continues at the rear with the D-pillar.

The concept also features a raised belt-line, slim-line wrap-around tail-lights an integrated roof spoiler, aerodynamic wing mirrors with embedded cameras, automatic illuminated sill steps and handle-less doors that are opened by gesture control.

Land Rover has packed the Vision concept with loads of technology, including extensive use of laser technology.

Laser diodes in the headlights are combined with LED daytime running lights to offer bright, far-reaching light beams that can stretch the vision beyond 300 metres, with a a light quality the company compares to natural daylight.

Laser Terrain Scanning involves infrared lasers being emitted from the fog-lights to scan the terrain ahead which is then displayed on a high-definition screen in the cabin so the driver can better navigate the road ahead.

The Laser Referencing system can be used to project images on to the road, including warning triangles on the road behind the vehicle to alert other road users to a possible stoppage.

Further technology Land Rover has employed includes the so called Transparent Bonnet which uses cameras under the front grille to project video of the terrain onto the head-up display which creates a see-through bonnet view of the terrain and direction of the front wheels.

The next-generation version of Land Rover's Terrain Response system is incorporated into the Vision, which scans the terrain ahead and selects the most appropriate system to respond to the conditions. For example, the Wade Aid function uses lasers to scan the depth of water ahead to determine whether the vehicle should proceed.

The Remote Control Drive function allows the driver to manoeuvre the vehicle at low speeds without actually being in the car. This is operated via a removable rotary shifter from the console and via a smart-phone or tablet and is recommended for more hardcore off-roading when an outside vantage point is safer.

All of the windows in the Vision concept use smart glass which looks like regular glass but has the capability of projecting images through augmented reality technology, while swiping or gesturing at the glass can alter how much glass is being let in the cabin.

Hiding behind the suicide doors of the concept is a luxurious cabin with the flexibility of a seven-seat (2+3+2), three-row layout bathed in premium leather, wood veneer and polished and brushed aluminium finishes.

The steering wheel houses two tiny OLED touch-screens to operate the infotainment, while gesture control replaces traditional indicator stalks and the instrument cluster uses a high-definition screen with three million-pixel resolution.

Two high-resolution touch-screens feature in the centre stack, with the lower of the two hiding a storage compartment under it with an induction pad for wireless charging. A rotary gearshift lever rises and lowers from the console as the driver's hand approaches.

The flexible cabin can be altered to accommodate four, five, six or seven passengers, depending on requirements, with some seats completely foldable to create a table between two other seats. An infotainment screen is fitted to the back of each seat and is controllable via gesture control.

The split tail-gate of previous models is replaced with a single-piece version incorporating “social seat” that extends from under the floor of the boot to form a platform or when folded further, becomes a bench seat.

While some of the technology features could feasibly carry over to the production version, a number of them will be kept for the concept only.

More information about Land Rover's new Discovery family will be revealed this week at the New York motor show.

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