Land Rover invited The Luxury Channel to their big live reveal of the new Discovery seven-seat SUV. We spoke to Design Director Gerry McGovern about their latest offering, and why he thought this new Discovery is unchallenged in the SUV market. We also spoke to Bear Grylls, Sir Ben Ainslie and Zara Phillips (watch our interview here) about the Discovery’s unique features and why they believe this vehicle really does embody Land Rover’s drive to go ‘‘Above and Beyond.’’
Land Rover chose a night at Packington Hall in Warwickshire, UK – close to Land Rover’s Solihull plant – to stage the big reveal, set against a very impressive backdrop of the largest Lego structure ever built. A Guinness World Record first, this 13-metre high Lego model version of London’s Tower Bridge was made from 5,805,846 individual Lego bricks, breaking the previous record by 470,646 pieces. Laid end to end, the bricks would stretch for almost 200 miles, or from Tower Bridge in London to Paris.
As part of the dramatic reveal sequence, British adventurer Bear Grylls appeared in typically exciting fashion by abseiling from the top of the huge Tower Bridge installation, through the open drawbridge and onto the stage beside the new Discovery. The finale was Land Rover BAR Team Principal Sir Ben Ainslie driving his sailing team through 900mm-deep water under the bridge – demonstrating the unrivalled capability and versatility of Land Rover’s new SUV. Sir Ben towed a Lego replica of the Land Rover BAR boat – a 186,500-brick meticulous model of the boat that will challenge for next year’s America’s Cup.
The model of Tower Bridge was flanked by two Lego “Discovery Zones” celebrating 27 years of Land Rover Discovery heritage. An Equestrian Zone, hosted by rider Zara Phillips, featured a typically British picnic scene made entirely from Lego bricks. The Bear Grylls Adventure Zone included a Lego fire and boulders to represent a scene from a typical mountain exploration.
After this impressive show and unveiling, we caught up with Gerry McGovern who had a charter plane waiting to take the Land Rover team directly onto Paris the following day as part of Discovery’s launch onto the European market. “I do think our new Discovery is unchallenged in the SUV market and if you compare it to the traditional SUVs in the market, this vehicle is far more refined and there’s nothing else that competes visually or in its capabilities,” he told us. With an all-aluminium platform, it’s got a much higher spec in its executions – the materials, finishes and fittings. Confidently he said, “the proof, of course, will be the customers and in my view, it’s not a great design unless it sells but I have never designed one that hasn’t sold yet!”
But what about the way the Discovery looks – how did McGovern keep in line with the car’s unique DNA? “There are certain things that point to its Discovery roots,” he said. “Outside, you will see the step roof, the asymmetry at the back of the car in terms of the rear panel and then the overall visual which makes it stand out.” Everyday ingenuity has been at the heart of the Discovery for the last 27 years and this fifth-generation model has been designed with the family in mind – light and comfortable with 7 seats and all the technological gizmos to keep up in the digital age.
Adventurer and father of three Bear Grylls believes they have got the balance right. “To me, they embody that spirit of adventure coupled with a rugged reliability that also serves the needs of a young family. I think these cars are amazing; they are the unsung heroes. We film all over the world in the most inhospitable jungles and deserts, you name it, and we always have Land Rovers there. They are just part of the team. They are not seen on screen but we know they work, they are reliable and tough. Some places are impassable but usually the Land Rover can get there and that’s a good default to know. There’s an emotional connection for us as a team as well – that same spirit of endeavour. They also have all these cool features – including seats that can be remotely controlled.”
Bear took this idea to the limits when he arranged a spectacular sky dive along with six members of the Royal Navy Parachute Display Team, arranging the seats of a camouflaged Discovery mid-air before the whole seven-member team landed aboard the new car – and they clearly loved it! “You know, it’s typical of Land Rover,” Bear admitted. “They love flying by seats of pants a bit, pushing the boundaries. It’s ‘Above and Beyond,’ it’s always very good fun and fits well with the brand.”