When it first launched in 1989, Land Rover’s entry level Discovery model helped introduce the brand to the masses. Based on the same platform as the Range Rover but costing less, the Discovery gained popularity with off-road enthusiasts as a cheaper alternative to Land Rover’s flagship vehicle. But over time, the Discovery became softer and more civilized. Sold in the U.S. as the LR4 now, many consider the Discovery to be more of a luxury accessory than the off-road prodigy it once was. But that may soon change, as reports from Autocar say that Land Rover will be bringing back the Discovery’s rugged nature with the next-generation model.
Based on a leaked report, Autocar believes that the next-gen Discovery will be marketed as a sister car to the next Defender and will enter production by mid-2016. Given the codename L661, the next vehicle to carry the Discovery nameplate will begin production one year after the Defender — last sold in the U.S. in 1997 — which will receive its first major redesign in nearly 30 years. So far, Land Rover has yet to decide which platform both cars will be built upon. According to Autocar’s sources, Land Rover could go with the T5 platform that currently underpins the LR4 and Range Rover Sport. However, that platform is heavy and will be 11 years old by the time the new Defender and Discovery head to production.
While developing a new chassis would be ideal, Autocar’s sources reveal that the cost to do so may be too great for Land Rover’s parent company, Tata, which bought the company in 2008. Whichever platform Land Rover chooses to go with, Autocar speculates that the fifth-generation Discovery will target the Toyota Land Cruiser when it finally does launch, focusing on towing and practicality.