The past economic downturn didn't stop Land Rover investing in significant improvements to its top-end models. These include facelifts, more powerful yet more economical new engines, enhanced on-road dynamics and many hundreds of detailed changes.
Life was tough for the company in the second half of 2008 after a record-breaking 2007, with only the Defender selling in anticipated numbers. Sales of Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Discovery 3 plummeted as the world stopped spending. But Land Rover has forged on with major reworking of the three, launched to the public at the New York Show in April 2009.
Land Rover’s managing director Phil Popham said: ‘These 2010 models are a bold statement of our intent. When the global economy recovers we will be in a very good position to benefit.’
Each model has received distinctive design changes. Yet the styling team, headed by Gerry McGovern, has still endowed the trio with a family look that embraces cues from the Freelander 2. New LED bi-xenon lighting front and rear also gives a freshness to the three models.
For the Discovery 4 and Sport the 2.7-litre TDV6 diesel engine gets increased bore and stroke to lift capacity to 3.0 litres. This delivers ooodles more power and torque, yet Land Rover’s engineers have achieved it while managing to improve mpg and squeeze down emissions.
And if it’s torque you want, the new 5.0-litre supercharged petrol engine for the Range Rover and Sport stomps out a massive 460 lb ft, which is only 12 lb ft less than the mighty TDV8 diesel engine, which still continues in the Sport and Range Rover. The petrol engine grunts out a mighty 503bhp, which makes it by far the most powerful Land Rover engine. Yet it’s more economical and has reduced emissions over its 4.2-litre predecessor.
Crucially, all three models benefit from a series of wide-ranging improvements to their ride and handling – mainly to add improved on-road capability to their proven off-road credentials.
Interiors see major enhancements, and there are many hundreds of detail changes to each model, including keyless entry, push-button starting, electronic towing aids and 360º camera systems.
For the Range Rover, there are a couple of world firsts. The dash no longer has any instruments as such – instead there’s a 12in Thin Film Transistor (TFT) screen with virtual analogue dials and info displays. And in the centre of the stylish and impeccably double-stitched dash is ‘the world’s first automotive use of dual-view touch-screen infotainment screen technology’ in Land Rover speak. What this means is that while the driver is viewing the vehicle’s upgraded satnav system, the passenger can be watching a DVD on the same screen. How cool is that!
2010 DISCOVERY 4/LR4
Discovery 4 is more than just a facelifted Discovery 3. Land Rover has changed about 3000 parts from the previous model, which is approximately the same number as when the leap was made from Disco 1 to Disco 2 in 1998, according to Mike Gould, who was Land Rover’s press officer back then.
‘This is as big a change as it gets without going to a completely new body sculpture,’ says Bob Prew, the Discovery 4’s programme manager. ‘Because of the level of change we’ve seen fit to call it Discovery 4.’
Land Rover has always been conscious that the D3 was designed from the inside out, for functionality and versatility rather than beauty. The aim was to accommodate seven six-foot adults, or vast amounts of luggage, in a highly capable on- and off-road vehicle, and the design was crafted around that.
‘It polarised opinions,’ admits design chief Gerry McGovern. ‘Some elements were seen as low rent.’
There are no major changes to the rear, which some critics harshly likened to a Transit Connect van, but Land Rover has given the previously quite stark front end a major facelift: ‘A complete change of personality,’ according to McGovern, with the objective of a premium, more friendly, more modern look.
Added to the new two-bar hexagonal grille are new LED bi-xenon lights, with intersecting circle and square light shapes. In addition, a revised front bumper with larger cooling aperture for the new engine, and a revamped front chin spoiler and wheel deflectors help reduce drag.
There are also two side vents instead of one previously, due to the demands of the new engine.
And it’s that new engine that is probably the biggest story as far as enthusiasts are concerned. The hefty Discovery 3’s performance with its 2.7-litre TDV6 engine was no more than adequate, creating opportunities for the many electronic tuning specialists who advertise in LRO.
The 2.7 is still available in the range for the time being, but most buyers will opt for the new 3.0 TDV6 which, according to John Pepperell, programme manager for diesel engineering, is a ‘significant development over the 2.7’.
As part of a radical redesign, bore and stroke of the common rail diesel are increased to give the extra capacity, and both power and torque are significantly better. Power is 29 per cent up at 241bhp – which putting it into perspective, is almost double that of the current Defender.
And off-roaders will welcome the delightful 36 per cent torque improvement, which is now a mouthwatering 442 lb ft – we just can’t wait to drive it!
All of this helps make Discovery 4 24 per cent quicker away from the traffic lights, with a 0-60 acceleration time of nine seconds.
Yet fuel economy hasn’t suffered – in fact, JLR’s engineers have managed to improve it by nine per cent to 30.4mpg on the combined cycle, and CO2 emissions are down by 10 per cent to 244kg/m.
Behind this improved performance and lower emissions is a new parallel sequential dual-mode turbocharger system, the first ever fitted to a ‘V’ engine, apparently. At low speeds this isolates one of the Honeywell turbos, just using the smaller variable one for optimum response, but at 4000rpm the second one comes in seamlessly for significantly more power.
The engine is also used in Jaguar cars, but is reworked for Land Rovers, with better waterproofing of vulnerable components and improved lubrication and oil scavenging for when it’s used at extreme angles.
D4’s package of improvements also includes a revised six-speed ZF autobox with faster changing.
D3 was a great off-road performer, and its on-road ability was a significant advance over that of the D2 – but for this new model Land Rover’s engineers have worked tremendously hard to take its ride and handling a giant step further through work on steering, suspension and traction control. Says Mike Langdon, vehicle engineering manager: ‘The Discovery 4 has reduced roll, takes tighter lines and has reduced understeer.’
Brakes are also improved, using larger-diameter discs and four-piston calipers from the Range Rover Sport.
The Discovery’s interior features all-new, more upmarket styling with a host of detail changes. Says Gerry McGovern: ‘Customers loved the Discovery 3’s functionality and versatility, but they wanted more “premiumness”.’ Which means better quality and – presumably – higher cost. But it does make the Discovery’s cabin a splendidly comfortable place to be, judging by the brief chance I had to sit behind the wheel of a pre-production model.
With 3000 different items it’s impossible to list them all, but the D4’s other significant changes or introductions include: Gradient Release as used on Freelander 2; keyless entry; push-button start; automatic dipping; DAB digital radio; and 360º cameras that operate up to 11mph – so they should be good for negotiating tight spots when parking or when off-road.
The D3 won many accolades for its towing ability thanks to a long wheelbase, air suspension and chunky weight. The D4 should be even better with the addition of Towing Assist cameras to help connection and reversing, and its Trailer Stability Assist detects any unwanted snaking, reducing power and applying the brakes to bring it under control.
Off-road improvements are minimal, mainly because the D3 was so good. But the Terrain Response, which selects optimum engine, suspension and gearing settling for different conditions, gets a new sand launch control. With this, initial wheel slip is dramatically restricted to give very gentle acceleration and prevent the wheels digging down.
Discovery 4 is due to go on sale from September 2009. No price information is currently available.
RANGE ROVER SPORT
When deciding upon the Sport’s 2010 changes, Land Rover felt the time was right to differentiate it more from the Range Rover. ‘We decided that it should become more sophisticated and more sporty,’ says design boss Gerry McGovern.
They’ve also made it less threatening. ‘The view is that the bigger the vehicle the more unfriendly it is, so we wanted to make it smaller-looking.’
They’ve used visual trickery to craft a front end that actually looks sleeker, lower and more attractive.
The front grille has two instead of three bars, and the two-bar theme continues through the indicator lights and even into the side vents.
Land Rover’s sports tourer also uses the new 3.0-litre TDV6, but achieves slightly better fuel consumption than the D4, at 30.7mpg. In addition it gets JLR’s mighty new 5.0-litre supercharged direct injection V8 petrol engine. Featuring technical marvels such as camshaft profile switching, variable camshaft timing and variable length inlet manifold, the new engine delivers 503bhp/442 lb ft. It’s vastly more powerful than the Sport’s previous 4.2-litre supercharged petrol unit, but is more economical and less polluting. Fuel consumption is 18.9mpg on the combined cycle, and emissions are 353g/km.
Land Rover showed us an interesting video of the old and new supercharged models doing a side-by-side drag race up to 100mph and then braking to zero again. The new model was at standstill before the old one had reached 100mph.
The Sport also gets optional steering wheel-mounted paddle gearshift for manual operation.
It is a real driver’s car, and Land Rover’s vehicle dynamics team have improved its handling through a range of chassis refinements. Star of the show are suspension dampers that are continuously monitored and adjusted to suit conditions.
And befitting a performance vehicle, the Sport’s Terrain Response has an extra position next to normal road driving – a new ‘Dynamic’ go-faster programme. This adjusts the Sport’s powertrain and chassis settings for what Land Rover calls a ‘more sporting and responsive driving experience’.
As with the D4, the Sport gets a completely new, more luxurious interior, with 50 per cent fewer switches, plus surround camera system and Tow Assist – and a lot more changes. About 3000, in fact.
Imagine yourself driving along, looking at satnav information on a dash-mounted touch-screen while your passenger is simultaneously watching a DVD on the same screen. This is now possible on the 2010 Range Rover thanks to mind-boggling ‘Parallax Barrier’ technology that hides and reveals columns of pixels.
And right in front of you, where the instrument cluster would normally be, is a 12-inch TFT screen that is displaying virtual dials and other driver info displays. When driving off-road it accommodates info such as steering angle and wheel articulation by moving the virtual speedo over to the right. You can still see the relevant lower speed section, but the rest is out of sight.
But the 2010 Range Rover is not just about gadgets. Land Rover sells a lot of these vehicles to extremely rich people whose homes are full of expensive stuff and who want the same high standards in their cars. The redesigned interior uses new, luxury-grade leather – which is even available as the headlining – and there are satin chrome, black satin and natural wood finishes.
Everything in the Range Rover is, as Gerry McGovern says: ‘applied with the highest level of precision’. The meticulous double stitching on the leather dash and door panels has to be seen to be believed.
McGovern says the company carried out extensive research with potential Range Rover buyers and the message was ‘don’t change it, just make it better’. Making it better includes giving it what he calls a ‘more noble face’, fitting the new 5.0-litre supercharged petrol engine, revising the interior, making it quieter, fitting better brakes and applying the same adaptive suspension system as the Sport – but for this vehicle a superbly plush ride quality is the objective.
Other improvements include adaptive cruise control, emergency brake assist, surround cameras, keyless ignition/push-button start and blind-spot monitoring. And lots more besides.
Land Rover says that the best just got better – and you can’t argue with that. It goes on sale from June.
Where can I read more?
Read the full story in the May 2009 issue of LRO. Current and back issues are available to download on digital devices here. Or order a printed issue by calling 01858 438884. Please note, we only hold stocks of the last three back issues.