At first glance, the Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept doesn't look that outlandish. Sure, it has the usual concept car features such as missing door handles and impossibly slim side mirrors. It also has laser headlights and a detachable remote control. How many of these features actually make it to the production model remains to be seen, but we like the direction Land Rover is going.
The Next Discovery
With no other models as a frame of reference, it's hard to get a sense of the Discovery Vision Concept's size, although Land Rover describes it as "fullsize" but conveniently doesn't give any specifics in terms of dimensions. The concept was originally thought to be the presumptive replacement for the Freelander/LR2, but with the fullsize description, it’s probably the heir apparent to the LR4/Discovery.
Here's what we know for sure. As alluded to in the introduction, the concept is jam-packed with about every high-tech doo-dad you've imagined, and probably several you haven't. Although pioneered by former Land Rover owner BMW, at least conceptually, the Discovery Vision Concept incorporates laser headlights. It's probably tempting to do the Dr. Evil air quotes as you're reading this description, but Land Rover claims there are some actual functional, engineering benefits to the technology, such as being 10 times smaller than equivalent LEDs, which are themselves more compact than incandescent or xenon lights.
But probably our two favorite features of the concept, both of which we hope eventually make it to production, are the previously announced Transparent Hood system and the Remote Control Drive function. The former is a system in which cameras mounted below the grille feed an image to the vehicle's heads-up display system to make the hood virtually disappear, giving the driver an unimpeded view of the terrain ahead. Very handy on tricky, technical, off-road trails.
The Remote Control Drive function can be utilized via a removable secondary rotary control, or through a smartphone or tablet. In addition to some pretty epic pranks and YouTube moments courtesy of bored rich kids borrowing mom's car in The Hamptons and Newport Beach, we see this feature coming in handy (as does Land Rover) for the driver being his or her own spotter by navigating the vehicle over difficult terrain off-road. “The feature also reduces the hassle of driving through gated enclosures, allowing the driver to drive the vehicle past the gate standing outside of it.”
Another feature we'd categorize as cool but marginally useful is a video intercom that allows passengers to talk to each other face-to-face without having to twist around. Maybe the feature is more compelling in person, but this strikes us as another example of technology making us lazier. But if you're of the anti-social bent, there are plenty of entertainment options for passengers, including built-in broadband connection, and four 10-inch high-resolution screens that respond to gesture controls. Gesture controls also replace conventional turn signal stalks and the aforementioned door handles. We only hope that in the real world, there's a manual override somewhere if you get a dead battery.
The glass used in the panoramic roof and rear windows can also be customized with a complete black-out or can display a starry night sky activated, of course, by gesture control. Other interior features include detachable travel luggage built into the doors, and special washable Foglizzo H20w leather, and oil- and water-repellent Nubuck inserts to simultaneously accommodate active lifestyles while providing the expected level of luxury on a Land Rover.
Finally, the Discovery Vision Concept features configurable seating for four, five, six, and seven passengers, with the four-seat configuration giving second-row passengers the ultimate in stretch-out room. And to facilitate the adventuresome, social activities for which the concept is built, the "social seating platform" folds down first as a tailgate extension, then as a bench seat. All the better to enjoy the included picnic blankets, sleeping blankets, and cushions made, of course, with British Harris Tweed.
So, sorry to disappoint with the lack of hardware details like engines, axle ratios, horsepower, and torque. Those details will probably come later, when the production version of the Discovery Vision Concept comes to market. In terms of the intra-vehicle video chat and built-in luggage, we don't know if that will make the cut or not, and frankly don't care. What we would definitely like to see are the "invisible hood" visibility system, and the remote-control driving. We have a feeling the former will make the cut, but the latter might have some regulatory hoops to jump through before making it to market. Expect to see a smaller concept previewing the Freelander replacement in the coming months, as well as a more production-intent model closer to launch.