The Land Rover Discovery 3 Structure

Land Rover Discovery 3

Land Rover Discovery

The body of the Discovery 3 is a combination of steel, much of which is high-strength grades, and aluminium. Unlike most bodies attached to separate platforms, the Discovery 3 body is a key part of the structure. This match of rigid body and strong platform gives Land Rover’s all-new Integrated Body-frame structure its uniqueness, its stiffness and its strength.

Integrated Body-Frame

The body's high torsional stiffness helps handling precision, driving refinement, ride and comfort, as well as reducing shakes and rattles. Although it has much greater cabin space, the Discovery 3 is only 176mm longer than the outgoing Discovery model, and only 30mm wider. It is also lower.

The Body In Detail

The Discovery 3’s body is manufactured like a conventional monocoque. Two monosides are welded to the floor, roof and bulkheads, creating a strong, single structure. Significant use is made of high-strength steels, while enormously strong boron steel is used for the A- and B-pillars, for added strength in front and side impacts.

The roof structure can accommodate both sunroof and alpine roof. The sunroof is a conventional cassette-type design that opens rearwards, outside the vehicle. The alpine roof is a large, full width glass roof bonded into the metal structure, above the second and third-row seats. To preserve strength, it is braced by cross members, invisible from the outside. When neither sunroof nor alpine roof is fitted, the outer roof panel is a single large steel pressing with styled swages to add strength and prevent booming.

The tailgate, doors, bonnet and front wings are separate, bolt-on assemblies. Lightweight magnesium alloy is used for part of the front structure and forms part of the front crash crumple zone.

The bonnet, a characteristic Land Rover clamshell design, is aluminium, which saves weight. Benefits include ease of opening and closing, with gas struts to provide assistance and retain the bonnet in the open position. The hinges allow the bonnet to be locked vertically for easier access to the engine compartment for servicing.

The asymmetric tailgate is a two-piece design, like the Range Rover’s. The lower half opens downwards, the top half upwards. The asymmetrically shaped design improves reach-in distance and load height.

"It is a distinctive design and true to Land Rover’s lineage," says design director Geoff Upex. "But it is also a very practical design, with real loading benefits."

When the vehicle is stationary, the upper tailgate can be closed independently of the lower tailgate, partly enclosing the vehicle interior while the lower tailgate can be used, for example, as a viewing platform. The lower tailgate is also designed as an acoustic chamber for the sub-woofer (where fitted) for the in-car entertainment system.

Both upper and lower tailgates are made from lightweight aluminium, which helps reduce total vehicle mass and also makes closing and opening easier. When fully open, the tailgates give superb access to the rear of the vehicle, to help with loading large or heavy objects.

All four doors are wide and provide easy access. Made of steel, they have boron steel-reinforced side intrusion beams to improve impact performance.

The front and rear bumpers, end trims, sill finishers and wheel arch eyebrows are all polypropylene injection mouldings to brush off minor damage in normal and off-road driving.

Both bumpers have energy absorbing elements to protect vital components in low speed impacts. The headlamp lenses are moulded in damage-resistant polycarbonate.

Advanced Paint Facility

The completed body is subjected to a comprehensive painting and finishing process to ensure it retains an attractive appearance throughout its long life.

All steel panels vulnerable to corrosion are zinc coated. Alloy structures, which are inherently corrosion resistant, are treated to prevent electrolytic interaction with adjoining steel components.

The body is finished in one of the most environmentally friendly and advanced paint facilities in the world.

Published 25 June 2004 Melanie Carter

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