1 Apr 2005
The first all-Ford developed Land Rover apes the latest Range Rover (RR) conceptually, while being in a similar ballpark dimensionally.
This was just like the first 1991 Disco did with the Mk1 Range Rover it was based on.
Enough of the Discovery’s basic essence – a stepped-up rear roof and a familiar slabby, square-sided look – is retained to make the new version easily recognisable.
The wheelbase is a massive 380mm greater than the outgoing Discovery, which promises a big boost to passenger legroom, while there’s also more height and width.
The air suspension system gives the Discovery 240mm of ground clearance off the road, while allowing it to settle into a more road-friendly stance on the highway.
Off-road credentials are maintained by a Range Rover-beating 700mm wading depth and 260mm (front) and 330mm (rear) wheel articulation – the same as the old model.
Three different trim levels are available – S, SE and HSE – with all engines available in the mid-series SE. There is no V8 option at the base S level and no petrol V6 in top-tier HSE trim.
Discovery Mk3 gets Land Rover’s unitary "Integrated Body-Frame" construction (with an in-built ladder frame), four-wheel independent suspension and more bulk.
In addition to its long-travel, double-wishbone independent suspension, the Mk3 also gets new driving aids like the Terrain Response system – available from SE level upward – that adapts functions such as ride height, differential locks, hill descent control, auto transmission shifting, traction control and engine torque delivery in any of five operating modes to suit particular applications such as regular on-road driving, sand driving or dealing with slick, low-traction surfaces.
There are also stability, traction and hill descent controls. Height-adjustable full air suspension, adapted from the RR, is available from SE models upwards, as are third-row, forward-facing seats.
The three new Ford-sourced engines are a 220kW/427Nm 4.4-litre V8, a 140kW/445Nm 2.7-litre turbo-diesel V6 (both ex-Jaguar) and a 160kW/360Nm 4.0-litre V6.
The V8 and the petrol V6 are available in automatic six-speed form only, while the turbo-diesel in S trim also offers a six-speed ZF manual gearbox as a no-cost option.
All include cruise control, six-speaker CD stereo, keyless entry, an alarm, ABS brakes, electric park brake and eight airbags.