Rejecting The Superfluous
Two design details on the Discovery 3 that have aroused particular comment are the asymmetric tailgate and the lack of a side styling ‘line’ through the doors.
The tailgate is a two-piece design, as on the Range Rover, rather than a large outward-opening door, as on previous Discovery models. There are major practical benefits to the new asymmetric shape. First, when the upper part of the tailgate is raised, the asymmetrically shaped lower lid reduces load height into the boot. When both upper and lower halves are opened, the asymmetric shape reduces ‘reach in’ distance. Unlike earlier Discoverys, the spare wheel is now mounted under the body, rather than on the rear door. The lack of a side styling line is simply explained. It is superfluous and was rejected.
"It was an area of comment in preview clinics with potential customers," says Upex. "Most cars have side styling lines, so people expect them. But we found the more people looked at, and became familiar with, the Discovery 3, the more they liked it and ‘got it’. There was similar comment about the car only having one side air intake. ‘Why not two?’ people asked. Simple – it only needs one. So it only has one."
"It is a clean, simple, minimalist shape," says Upex. "That is not only appropriate for a new Land Rover, it also ensures a fresh look for many years. Simple, minimal design invariably lasts well."
As part of the design exercise in shaping the Discovery 3, Land Rover designers looked at many products thought to be timeless. One was Health House, a home in Los Angeles designed by Richard Neutra, a pupil of Frank Lloyd Wright. It is timeless and elegant – and could have been designed in the 1990s. In fact it was designed in the 1920s.
"We were lucky in being able to look much closer to home, too," says Upex. "The Land Rover Defender, still a style icon, has a basic shape that goes back to 1948. The first Range Rover of 1970 set a design language that unashamedly continues with the latest Range Rover."
Upex is confident that the latest Discovery 3 will go down as a Land Rover design classic, too.Published 25 June 2004