Vision of future in Land of Discovery
* Can be driven off-road with your smartphone * Family of models instead of one * New Freelander among them
THIS is the start of a Discovery family. The Vision concept SUV, rolled out in New York today, highlights what the next-generation Discovery range will look like – and do.
Discovery will no longer be just a one-model range.
The first of the new 'family' will be the current five-seat Freelander replacement early next year. It is going to be called the Discovery Sport apparently.
Based on the Range Rover Evoque platform, it will also come as a seven-seat Freelander replacement.
Then there will be a muscular seven-seat off-roader to rival Toyota's Land Cruiser.
But the luxury Discovery model will be the real replacement for the current model. It will have an all-aluminium structure (like that in the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport).
The Vision Concept also marks something of a technological showcase. Among the more notable is the ability to let your smartphone control the vehicle if trying to navigate tough terrain – you just get out and 'drive' it remotely.
The side mirrors have cameras which help driver vision. Under the doors, steps automatically slide out from the sills to make it easier to get in and out. And 'Transparent Bonnet' technology lets you 'see' under the car by way of a Head-Up display on the windscreen.
They also have what they call "smart glass" – it can display information on surroundings based on what the occupants of the vehicle are looking at.
Among the big practical elements is a new Terrain Response off-road system. As well as using the smartphone to remotely drive it, the new car will have off-road 'cruise control'. That means you can punch in a course and let the system decide on settings and speed.
Buttons, stalks and dials are at a premium as two large touch-screens in the central console will look after virtually all interior functions. The top part is for audio and visual, including sat-nav, the lower caters for climate control. Small touchpads on the steering wheel also direct several of these tasks.
The second and third seats slide and fold independently and are all electrically operated. That means the driver, for example, can change the layout from the touch-screen.
The rear doors are hinged at the back – for pillarless access to the cabin – but that is unlikely to make it to production.
On the seat backs of the first and second rows are 10ins gesture-controlled screens: passengers can access internet and video through the in-car Wi-Fi hotspot.
Impressive stuff – and we'll see at least some of it next year.