As the Range Rover moved more upmarket, and the Land
Rover (including the Defender) remaining utalitarian and
uncompromisingly in the farmyard at the other, the British
manufacturer had a serious problem on its hands.
A wave of Japanese off-roaders - such as the Mitsubishi
Pajero, Nissan Patrol and Toyota Landeruiser were, in
the late 1980's, occupying an expanding middlemarket.
These more civilized cars were being bought by drivers
who rarely - if ever - ventured off-road, but enjoyed
their distinctiveness and high driving position. So popular
were these type of vehicles that sales of off-roaders
quadrupled in the second half of the 1980s.
Land Rover needed to enter the market, but at the time
they were strapped for cash (rumoured to be caused by
the division having its substantial profits used to prop
up the Rover car division).
But this lack of funds forced
the developers to raid the parts bin of the tried and
tested, and immensely popular Range Rover.
The obvious in-breeding of the two vehicles was to
ensure the new "Disco" would bring to Land
Rover a level of quality, performance and off-road
ability never before seen at this price point.
The new Discovery used the Range Rover's 100in. (254cm)
chassis and suspension, numerous under-skin componentry
and even the Rangie's windscreen! And much the same as
the original Range Rover, the Discovery was launched as
a three-door and used the same reliable V8 engine (although
engine was optional).
Many commentators were critical at the time of the Disco's
bland styling, which looked traditional and obviously
familiar. But they were missing the point, here was a
Range Rover for the masses, and the public loved it.
was a shame then that the quality control was not able
to keep pace with the rapid expansion of the production
facilities, and the inevitable damage to the Discovery's
reputation followed a string of reliability issues.