SOLIHULL, UK - The new Discovery being unveiled at the Paris auto show this week keeps the distinctive profile of the original Discovery, but it involves 13,500 new components and 39 new patents.
The new Discovery goes on sale in the UK on 20 November, in the USA in December and in major European markets in January.
Prices will be about $33,000-$49,000. Production at Land Rover's Solihull plant will run initially at 65,000 a year, the same rate as the outgoing Discovery.
The factory has adopted BMW manufacturing standards, known as 'QZ.' Nick Stephenson, Rover Group design and engineering director, describes them as 'unbelievably exhaustive and intended to make the car perfect.'
Rover spent $400 million to develop four models on a single five-door body.
In Europe, 90 percent of Discovery sales are for diesel engines. The New Discovery has a new five-cylinder 2.5-liter turbodiesel engine that needs no catalytic converter to meet emission regulations up to 2002.
The gasoline version which will sell in North America is a 4.0-liter V8. Both engines will be offered with a five-speed manual gearbox and a new dual-mode electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission.
The body is mounted at 14 points on a rigid ladder-frame chassis.
Among the enhancements to the car is a ride and cornering system called Active Cornering Enhancement. Information on lateral forces detected by body-mounted sensors is passed continuously to a computer which instructs a high-pressure pump to counter body roll before it even begins.
In combination with self-levelling rear air-spring suspension, the system provides a level and car-like ride through severe highway curves.
Off-road, the self-levelling system has an automatic function at speeds below 10kph. If the chassis grounds or the wheels spin, the rear end raises.
Options include a remote control device to raise or lower the vehicle, which is particularly useful for drivers who tow a trailer and need to match the height of the towball to the trailer hitch.
The new Discovery uses the Hill Descent Control system first seen on the Freelander, an electronic version of low range. It also has electronic traction control and electronic brake distribution.
Much has been done to improve the on-road feel. One change that followed owner interviews was the deliberate introduction of a slight degree of dive under braking.
The interior returns to a more traditional dashboard design. It adds optional forward-facing foldaway seats for the sixth and seventh passengers. It has a separate headphone system 'to allow the kids in the back to listen to their stuff while the adults up front listen to theirs,' said Land Rover brand manager Andy Hurst.