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Land Rover shows off 2021 Discovery

Land Rover has revealed an updated version of the Discovery, and it's time to break out your microscopes because, from the outside at any rate, the differences are going to be hard to spot.

New lights and bumpers

There are new lights, front and rear, which do look a little cleaner and sharper than before, and new bumpers front and rear too, which at the front get a wider air intake and new side vents. Land Rover reckons that this gives the Discovery "a more purposeful and dynamic appearance." Around the back, the offset rear numberplate is still there, which this correspondent actually quite likes but which everyone else in the universe apparently hates. You'll know how you feel about this.

There's a new gloss black panel at the back too, and that can be combined with a new R-Dynamic trim that adds yet more in the way of Gloss Black and Shadow Atlas exterior accents as well as two-tone leather in the cabin.

Speaking of the cabin, the Discovery is the latest Land Rover product to get the company's impressive (but oddly-named) new Pivi Pro infotainment system. That comes with a massive 11.4-inch central touchscreen (48 per cent larger than the Discovery's old touchscreen, which was no minnow itself) and an optional 12.3-inch digital instrument screen. The Pivi Pro system has its own dedicated battery so it's faster to boot up as you open and start up the Discovery, has apps such as Spotify baked into its software, and can receive over-the-air updates so that it can update and improve itself as you sleep.

There's also the new 'Clear Sight' camera system that effectively allows you to see through the bonnet of the car when off-roading, and the Discovery also now gets the new, stubby, automatic gear selector that has already been seen on the updated Range Rover Sport.

Other tech additions include a new head-up display, wireless phone charging, a PM2.5 cabin air filtration system (no, it can't filter viruses, but it can filter particles that viruses attach themselves to...), an on-board 4G WiFi hotspot and lots of USB-A and USB-C sockets.

Versatile interior

Of course, the core of the Discovery's appeal has always been its practicality, and while it's possible (probable even) that the new Defender might eat into that patch a little, the Discovery has still got it where it counts. Where it counts is out the back of the car, where you'll find as much as 2,845 litres of luggage space. Even when you've got the optional seven-seat layout, and all seats are in use, there's still a just-about-useful 258 litres of luggage space behind the third row.

Those third-row seats have been engineered to accommodate adults of up to 1.9 metres tall, apparently, while the second-row seats have been redesigned a little to be more comfy, and they still slide fore and aft by up to 160mm. There's also a fold-down flap at the back of the boot, which deploys when you open the tailgate, and which acts as a handy outdoor seat (or a shelf capable of holding up to 300kg). The main tailgate is powered and can be activated by swiping a foot under the rear bumper.

Oh, and you can also have Land Rover's new 'Activity Key', which now looks like a digital smart-watch, and which can act as the only key you need, allowing you to safely lock the car while off enjoying water sports or other wet and muddy adventures on which you'd rather not bring a conventional key.

New straight-six engines

On the engine front, the Discovery is now catching up with the Range Rover and the Defender with new straight-six petrol and diesel engines. The base engine is the new D250 3.0-litre straight-six, which has 249hp and 570Nm of torque. Then there's the D300 version of the same engine, with 300hp and 650Nm of torque. Petrol power comes from the four-cylinder P300 300hp 2.0-litre turbo, or the P360 3.0-litre straight-six with 360hp and 500Nm of torque.

All of the straight-six 3.0-litre engines are now mild-hybrid units, using a 48-volt electrical architecture, an electrically-driven turbocharger and an integrated starter/generator to give a performance kick at low rpm, and to improve economy, especially in urban conditions. Emissions for these new units start from 216g/km for the D250, which is better than you'd have got from the previous four-cylinder D240 unit. The D300 six-cylinder diesel, meanwhile, can shove the Discovery from 0-100km/h in just 6.8 seconds. As well as reducing the emissions from its engines, Land Rover says that it has managed to trim the CO2 emissions caused by their construction by 46 per cent compared to its 2007 levels.

As before, you can have optional air suspension and adaptive dampers, and Land Rover's 'Terrain Response' that sets up the Discovery's traction control, throttle, differential locks and more for the ultimate in off-roading. Would the new Discovery be beaten by the new Defender at off-roading? We can't wait to find out...

Gerry McGovern, Chief Creative Officer, Jaguar Land Rover, said: "New Discovery is a beautifully proportioned and sophisticated premium SUV. This compelling and versatile vehicle has been refined in every detail, enhancing its characterful exterior and hugely versatile interior to ensure the Discovery maintains its position as the most capable and family-friendly full-size SUV in the world."

Irish prices aren't set for the new Discovery yet, but we'll let you know when they are.