The new 2018 Land Rover Discovery (nÃ©e LR4) is not the automatically handsome successor to the Discovery 4 you assumed it would be.
The front end is visually softened. Viewed from the side, there’s enoughÂ bodyworkÂ between the windowline and wheelwell to empty the paint shop. The need to maintain a traditional Discovery shape was compromised in part by aero demands, and the result isÂ flat rather than boxy. The C-pillar leaning far forward is more reminiscent of a Lexus RX than a Discovery Series I.
But it’s around the back where Land Rover’s own design boss, Gerry McGovern, has his own problem. “Overall, I like the design of the back of the Discovery for its asymmetry,” McGovern tells Auto Express, “because itâ€™s tipping its hat to the Discoveries of the past.”
The problem then, Mr. McGovern? License plates. Yes. License plates.
As always, apply your standard style-is-subjective qualifier. But then search “new Discovery ugly” on Twitter and be astounded at the wide array of results, of which we’ve only selected a tiny fraction.
Sorry LR but your new interpretation of the discovery is plain ugly. It looks as if all the airbags went off at once and puffed up! Shame
â€” Snakey (@oilandtoil) August 22, 2017
Not sure who designed or OK’ed the design of the rear of the new @LandRover Discovery but the words pig ugly spring to mind. ? #landrover
â€” Martin Baldwin (@marti_b) April 5, 2017
Nope not for me, the back is ugly on the new discovery ? pic.twitter.com/AB2mUY9faH
â€” Aidan Chiselle (@AidanChiselle) May 2, 2017
Oh dear. The New Discovery is ugly. What a shame – reminds me of the Ssangyong Rodius ? What’s with the back window? #fugly #discovery pic.twitter.com/4lToxGQCoM
â€” Will O’Hara (@willohara) February 11, 2017
@LandRover_UK Sorry, but that new LandRover Discovery is one seriously ugly vehicle, particularly at the rear. Very disappointed…..
â€” Mark (@sasnalinkai) September 28, 2016
Just drove past the new @LandRover Discovery. It’s so ugly, someone needs firing.
â€” Christian (@christiandavvy) June 20, 2017
Land Rover’s design chief, however, believes too many UK dealers are slapping on taller-than-ideal number plates. McGovern feels the Discovery’s new rear end was designed for slimmer license plates. Of course, that theory flies out the window on this side of the Atlantic, where all new Discoverys will wear taller plates.Â McGovern doesn’t believe the Discovery is in need of a design rethink. “I don’t want to change that asymmetry,” he says.
“But we do need to do something about the number plates.”
Given Land Rover’s recent global success, it’s easy to believe the brand could design very nearlyÂ anything and still sell it so long as the vehicle wearsÂ the green and white oval. But Land Rover’s clearly not under that impression, otherwise McGovern wouldn’t feel the need to so vehemently defend the new Discovery.
Earlier this year, for instance, McGovernÂ was asked about criticism of the new Discovery. “Iâ€™m a professional designer and theyâ€™re not,” McGovern said of the critics.Â “I think it hangs together really well,” he told Motoring. Indeed, McGovern continued byÂ criticising the previous model, saying it featured “a design that didnâ€™t resonate with a lot of people. It was very polarising.”
Regardless, McGovern feels now that proper license plates will cure all ills. Twitterer Mark Smyth? He has a different view.
In related news, the DVLA set to release a statement saying the rear design of new Discovery makes their number plates look ugly. https://t.co/fo5RUky1k8
â€” Mark Smyth (@Motorscribe) September 19, 2017
[Images: Land Rover]
Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor ofÂ GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.