Land Rover Discovery
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The Land Rover Discovery was introduced in the UK in October 1989 to fill the ever widening gap between the luxurious Range Rover and the utilitarian Land Rover Defenders Development started in 1986 and was very rapid by British standards, aided by the fact that the Discovery made use of the coil suspension, engines and full-time four-wheel drive transmission of the Range Rover of the day. This guide celebrates some of the landmarks in the Discovery's history during its first ten years of production.
The Discovery brought the Land Rover marque to a whole new band of customers in 1989. Launched into an existing market, the one created by Japanese family 4x4s during the 1980s, the competition was strong but at a basic price of £15,750 (V8 or Tdi) the vehicle looked a bargain. Initially, with only three doors, it was only intended to be a quite distinct vehicle from the more upmarket Range Rover and succeeded brilliantly. Early sales figures showed the Discovery to be a best seller in its class, sometimes double that of its nearest rivals.
Camel Trophy 1990-1997
From 1981, Land Rover provided the vehicles for the Camel Trophy, an annual competitive adventure-safari run in exotic and remote territories with teams from a wide variety of nations. Usually the Landrover product used by the te4ams was the one most recently introduced, with the Discovery making its first appearance in 1990.
The much-awaited five-door Discovery arrived in 1991. Side graphics were more restrained than on the original three-door, with just a small Discovery logo on each front wing. The V8i version featured an injected engine and chunky looking five-spoke wheels, which were unique to the five-door model in most markets. The roof-rails were optional on three-doors, but standard on five-door models. The five-door offered the buying public a real alternative to a mundane family saloon and was an instant hit.
The 1995 model-year saw major revisions to the Discovery under the "Romulus" project. The V8 was enlarged to 3.9 litres and the 2.5 litre, 4 cylinder 300Tdi engine was offered as an alternative. A five-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic could be specified and a driver's airbag became standard. The passenger airbag was optional. For the exterior, there was a revised front end, with new and larger headlamps. A new grille, indicator lamps, apron spoiler and bold Land Rover decal on the leading edge of the bonnet, made the new Discovery look wider and more purposeful.
Launched for the 1996 model-year, the XS model was aimed at customers seeking a more extrovert appearance for their vehicle. The sport XS was an ABS-equipped seven-seater five-door petrol or turbo-diesel, with bright paint colours, side-rubbing strips and wheel-arch protectors, special lower body graphics and dished alloy wheels. With the introduction of the XS, Discoverys in Britain came in four guises: the unnamed entry models, the S, the sporty XS and the luxurious ES.
The UM launch of the third-generation Land Rover Discovery, code named "Tempest", came in September 1998. Slightly longer than the original Discovery and with a wider track, the new model was fitted with either the 4.0 litre petrol V8 (182bhp) or a new 5-cylinder turbo-charged and inter-cooled diesel (136bhp). Features included traction control, ABS and self-levelling suspension. For the more expensive models there was ACE or Active Cornering Enhancement, an ingenious active ride control system designed to minimise the Discovery's characteristic cornering roll.