Setting the stage for an entire new family of go-anywhere vehicles from the world's best-known premium SUV specialist, the Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept made a high profile debut in New York. Previewed aboard the USS Intrepid Sea, Air and Space museum in Manhattan -- where Land Rover also announced a partnership with Virgin Galactic -- this ground-bound stunner appeared quite at home beside a replica of Sir Richard Branson's pioneering spacecraft.
"The Vision Concept's modern, relevant and compelling design is a significant shift from Discovery as we know it," noted Gerry McGovern, LR's Design Director and Chief Creative Officer, "where well-considered practicality, configurability and Land Rover's capability seamlessly blend to create a highly desirable vehicle that connects on an emotional level."
Discovery to be a Reality
Based on the existing LR4 platform and offering room for seven, this design exercise reflects the automaker's future vision. For now, all that Land Rover execs will confirm is the production Discovery in the pipeline will be smaller - think LR2-size - and launch sometime in 2015.
Although maintaining a clear link to its Discovery heritage, the Vision Concept's sleek, flowing bodywork displays a sophisticated sense of overall proportion. The new look is complemented by details like laser-diode headlamps, gesture-controlled doors and tailgate, cameras in the slim-line outside mirrors that expand a driver's peripheral view, a panoramic glass roof and powerful foglamps on either side of the front undershield that also emit infrared and colored laser light to enhance the vehicle's Laser Terrain Scanning and Referencing capabilities.
The design revolution is even more apparent inside the Vision Concept's cabin. A lounge-like ambiance augments the ergonomically optimized controls with a next-gen infotainment system that includes secure in-vehicle Wi-Fi as well as four individual 10.0-inch hi-res screens in the seatbacks to keep passengers entertained. While not yet ready for prime time use, the Vision Concept also features Smart Glass. This transparent surface is capable of displaying virtual images much like a computer screen and also interfaces with the vehicle's navigation and head-up display system. On a more practical note, the Vision Concept's track-mounted, fold-flat second- and third-row seating ensures quick, easy configuration changes while each door has a detachable roller-style bag.
The First Transparent Hood
Advanced technology also plays a key role in expanding the go-anywhere capability of the Discovery Vision Concept. In addition to the Laser Terrain Scanning/Referencing system, the innovative "Transparent Hood" we reported on previously, allows the driver to see what is ahead and below the vehicle's nose. It's complemented a Remote Control Drive capability that allows it to be operated at low speeds via the console-mounted center rotary controller or while outside the vehicle using a smart phone or tablet. Also on hand is an more advanced iteration of LR's outstanding Terrain Response system that can automatically optimize drive settings, provide the driver real-time recommendations and even calculate the depth of standing water before the driver attempts to wade through it.
Land Rover promises to reveal even more about the Discovery Vision Concept in the weeks ahead on its Facebook and Twitter pages. It will be interesting to see how much of its basic design and ambitious feature set actually does make it to the showroom.
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