New Land Rover Discovery Is Ugly - Why? Land Rover Design Boss Blames License Plate Thickness

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
new land rover discovery is ugly why land rover design boss blames license plate

The new 2018 Land Rover Discovery (née 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 enough bodywork 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 is 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 it’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.

The Diagnosis

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

— Snakey (@oilandtoil) August 22, 2017

The Critique

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. 😮

— Martin Baldwin (@marti_b) April 5, 2017

The Angle

Nope not for me, the back is ugly on the new discovery 😝

— Aidan Chiselle (@AidanChiselle) May 2, 2017

The Comparison

Oh dear. The New Discovery is ugly. What a shame – reminds me of the Ssangyong Rodius 😬 What’s with the back window?

— Will O’Hara (@willohara) February 11, 2017

The Joined-Twitter-Just-For-This

@LandRover_UK Sorry, but that new LandRover Discovery is one seriously ugly vehicle, particularly at the rear. Very disappointed…..

— Mark (@sasnalinkai) September 28, 2016

The Verdict

Just drove past the new @LandRover Discovery. It’s so ugly, someone needs firing.

— 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. 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 nearly anything and still sell it so long as the vehicle wears 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, McGovern was asked about criticism of the new Discovery. “I’m a professional designer and they’re not,” McGovern said of the critics. “I think it hangs together really well,” he told Motoring. Indeed, McGovern continued by criticising the previous model, saying it featured “a design that didn’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.

— Mark Smyth (@Motorscribe) September 19, 2017

[Images: Land Rover]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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2 of 33 comments
  • Tstag Tstag on Sep 20, 2017

    I'm not mad on the tail gate but the rest of it looks good. Also it's a practical car first which is something that appeals more to me tha. The style

  • White Shadow White Shadow on Sep 21, 2017

    Thickness? Did you mean height? All the difference in the world...

  • Dukeisduke I still think the name Bzzzzzzzzzzt! would have been better.
  • Dukeisduke I subscribed to both Road & Track and Car and Driver for over 25 years, but it's been close to 20 years since I dropped both. I tried their digital versions with their reader software (can't remember the name now), but it wasn't the same. I let it lapse after a year.From what I've seen of R&T's print version, it's turned into more of a lifestyle thing like The Robb Report. I haven't seen an issue of C/D in a while.I enjoyed both magazines a lot when I was subscribing. R&T for the road tests (especially the April Fools road tests), used car reviews, historical articles, and columns like Peter Egan's Side Glances and Dennis Simanitis's Technical Correspondence. And C/D for the road tests and pithy commentary, and columns like Gordon Baxter's, and Jean Shepherd's (that goes way back to the early '70s).
  • Steve Biro It takes very clever or amusing content for me to sit through a video vehicle review. And most do not include that.Tim, you wrote :"Niche titles aren't dying because of a lack of interest from enthusiasts, but because of broader changes in the economics of media, at least in this author's opinion."You're right about the broader changes in economics. But the truth is that there IS a lack of interest from enthusiasts. Part of it is demographics. Young people coming up are generally not car and truck fans. That doesn't mean there are no young enthusiasts but the numbers are much smaller. And even those who consider themselves enthusiasts seem to have mixed feelings. Just take a look at Jalopnik.And then we come to the real problem: The vast majority of new vehicles coming out today are not interesting to enthusiasts, are not fun to drive and/or are just not affordable.You can argue that EVs are technically interesting and should create enthusiasm. But the truth is they are not fun to drive, don't work well enough yet for most people and are very expensive.EVs on the race track? Have you ever been to a Formula E race? Please.And even if we set EVs aside, the electronic nannies that are being forced on us pretty much preclude a satisfying driving experience in any brand-new vehicle, regardless of propulsion system. Sure, many consumers who view cars as transportation appliances may welcome this technology. But they are not enthusiasts. I don't know about you, but I and most car fans I know don't want smart phones on wheels.There is simply not that much of interest to write about. Car and Driver and Road & Track are dipping deeper into nostalgia and their archives as a result. R&T is big on sponsoring road trips for enthusiasts - which is a great idea. But only people with money to burn need apply.And then there is the problem of quality in automotive writing. As more experienced people are let go and more money is cut from publications, the quality and length of pieces keeps going down, leading to the inevitable self-fulfilling prophecy.Even the output on this site is sharply reduced from its peak. And the number of responses to posts seems a small fraction of what it used to be. This is my first comment since the site was recently relaunched. I don't expect to be making many in the future.Frankly Tim - and it gives me no pleasure to write this - but your post makes me feel as though the people running this site have run out of ideas and TTAC's days may be numbered.Cutbacks in automotive journalism are upsetting. But, until there is something exciting and fun to write about, they are going to continue. Perhaps automotive enthusiasm really was a 20th century phenomenon..
  • THX1136 I think that the good ole interwebs is at least partially to blame. When folks can get content for free, what is the motivation to pay to read? I'm guilty of this big time. Gotta pay to read!? Forget it! I'll go somewhere else or do without. And since a majority of folks have that portable PC disguised as a phone in their pocket, no need for print. The amount of info easily available is the other factor the web brings to bear. It's perhaps harder now to stand out. Standing out is necessary to continued success.In an industry I've been interested (and participated) in, the one magazine (Mix) I subscribed to has become a shadow of it's former self (200 pgs now down to 75). I like print for the reasons mentioned by another earlier. I can 'access' it in a non-linear fashion and it's easily portable for me. (Don't own a smarty pants phone and don't plan to at the moment.)I would agree with others: useful comparison reviews, unique content not easily available other places, occasional ringers (Baruth, Sajeev, et al) - it would be attractive to me anyway. I enjoy Corey, Matt and Murilee and hope they continue to contribute here.
  • Daniel J I wish auto journos would do more comparisons. They do some but many are just from notes from a previous review compared to a new review. I see where journos go out to a location and test drive and review a vehicle on location but that does absolutely nothing for me without any comparison to similar cars. I also wish more journos spent more time on seat comfort. I guess that doesn't matter much when many journos seem to be smaller folks where comfort isn't as important. Ergonomics are usually just glossed over unless there is something very specific about the ergonomics that tick the journo off. I honestly get more from most youtube reviews than I ever do about reviews written on a page.