“The cabin was the starting point for the creation of the Discovery 3,” says Land Rover design director Geoff Upex. “It was designed from the inside out. Maximum cabin space and comfort dictated the entire form of the vehicle.” As a result, the Discovery 3 offers outstanding space and versatility.

Land Rover Discovery 3 Interior

In every major dimension, the new vehicle’s interior is either class-leading or among the very best. Compared with the outgoing Discovery model, the major improvements are in legroom, shoulder room, and third-row headroom. The Discovery 3 has an extremely spacious third row of seats (where fitted) – large enough for 95th percentile adults – underlining its superiority as a seven-seater. The wide doors are designed to ensure easy cabin and boot access.

Second and third seat rows can fold right down into the floor, enabling the Discovery 3 to transform into a luxury load-carrier with a flat floor and vast capacity.

The vehicle can be specified with either two or three rows of seats, giving space for five or seven adults respectively. All seats face forwards and provide a head restraint and full lap-and-diagonal inertia reel seatbelt. ‘Stadium seating’ means that each row is higher than the one in front, improving the view for all passengers, helped by the deep glazing. The stepped roof ensures plenty of headroom throughout.

All seats are large and comfortable, and higher level Discovery 3 models come with leather upholstery. Both outer seats in the second row are equipped with Isofix attachment points for European-standard and North American child seats.

Front seats are available with power adjustment, covering fore and aft movement, height and squab recline, plus manual lumbar support adjustment. In addition, the driver’s seat offers electric cushion tilt adjustment. On manual front seats there is fore and aft adjustment and squab recline, plus lumbar support and height adjust on the driver’s seat.

In the seven-seat version, the second row features three individual seats. Each folds separately and all retract into the footwell. The two outer seats can also jack-knife forward, to provide easy access to the third-row seats. These also fold flat into the floor, and when all rear seats are down, the huge, flat cargo area is almost two metres long.

On the seven-seat version, the individual folding arrangements for all five rear seats provide anything from a two- to a seven-seat vehicle, with varying formats of load space.

Extensive stowage space was a priority in a vehicle that prides itself on its exceptional practicality and versatility.

In the facia, there are two gloveboxes on the passenger side, and a tray at the base of the front console with a non-slip mat. There is also a coin tray and a clip for tickets and toll slips.

The use of an Electronic Park Brake, rather than a conventional handbrake, liberates extra space in the centre console. A large cubby box, which can hold up to four drink cans, is fitted right behind the console, and this is even available with a cooling system to keep the drinks chilled. The cubby box lid can be folded back to act as a useful tray for rear seat passengers. A mobile phone can be stowed within the cubby box lid, and can be integrated into a hands-free system.

Large cup holders for driver and front seat passenger are fitted in the centre console, and there is an additional folding cup holder for the passenger. Both front doors have capacious bins, including holders for large bottles of water or soft drink. The rear side doors also have large bins, again big enough for drink bottles. In all, 17.5 litres of drinks can be stowed in a Discovery 3.

Large lower quarter panels in the rear compartment provide stowage space for those sitting in the third row, or secure stowage in the boot area. The top surface includes a cup holder and shallow tray, as well as in-car entertainment controls for the rear-seat passengers. Recesses, closed with nets, are also offered for extra stowage.

The facia has a simple, geometric look. It utilises the Land Rover design language initiated in the latest Range Rover: very architectural, with clear vertical and horizontal lines. There is large instrumentation, plus good-sized, tactile and intuitive controls. Switches are kept to a minimum – the built-in technology, including Land Rover’s new Terrain Response system, can do much of the work for the driver.

The facia moulding is in Thermoplastic Urethane (TPU), which has a luxury feel, resists fade caused by sunlight and has fewer plasticisers to reduce the mist deposited on the inside of the windscreen. The facia is supported on a die-cast magnesium alloy cross-beam that is both light and strong, and provides precise mounting – improving finish and reducing any propensity to rattle.

The top panel for the facia is designed for pleasing looks, feel and longevity. Controls that are used regularly, such as facia vents, typically have a rubberised finish, to improve touch and boost their premium feel.

Roof trim and door pillar trim are soft fabric, and all grab handles are damped. Two roof-mounted consoles provide interior lighting, with separate lights for the third-row passengers. Low-level ‘waterfall’ lighting is incorporated into the front dome lamp, and is activated when the headlamps are turned on.

When the alpine roof is specified, full width blinds provide shade and extra privacy.

Carpets are soft but hard wearing. They are also easily cleaned, helped by the sill-free body design, to assist sweeping out the cabin.

Air conditioning is standard on all Discovery 3 models and comes in two forms, manually operated and automatic. Both include a particulate filter to remove pollutants in both fresh air and recirculating modes, and four facia-mounted adjustable vents with thumbwheel shut-offs.

There is an additional lap cooler vent for the driver beneath the steering wheel. Airflow is also directed at the windscreen, side windows and front footwells. For the second row of seats, there are two vents at the back of the centre console.

On higher level vehicles, fully automatic temperature control is used. This system automatically uses the air conditioning and heater to maintain a constant temperature. The temperature is selected using separate facia-mounted controls for driver and passenger. Both sides operate independently.

In selected hot-weather markets, the system can also be specified with optional rear air conditioning and heating. The rear cabin temperature can also be controlled separately.

In cold-weather markets, an additional 5kW fuel-burning heater supplements the heat generated by the TDV6 diesel engine.

The Discovery 3 offers a high level of in-car entertainment systems and one of the most advanced navigation systems available.

Higher-line models have a six-CD in-dash unit. Six speakers are fitted to entry models, while upper range models use harman/kardon systems with nine speakers, including a sub-woofer.

A premium 14-speaker harman/kardon ‘Logic 7’ seven-channel digital surround system is also available. The head unit can also play MP3 files and, with 11x compression the equivalent of a 66 CD library can be stored and played in the vehicle.

The optional state-of-the-art navigation system is DVD-based, and includes the latest generation of off-road navigation. There is an interface to Traffic Message Channel (TMC) systems (where available), which broadcast messages on a specific radio channel to warn of hold-ups. This information is also shown on-screen, and the navigation system can suggest an alternative route to ensure the driver has an uninterrupted journey.

The navigation system is controlled by a 180mm (7 inch) high resolution touch screen, while two buttons switch the screen between the main ‘Home’ menu and the navigation system. Voice recognition is available for navigation and audio controls. The screen also displays information from the Terrain Response system.

The enormously strong Integrated Body-frame architecture of the Discovery 3, with its hydroformed frame, gives tremendous protection in case of impacts, and door-mounted anti-intrusion side-beams offer further protection. Computer-aided design has helped optimise the Discovery 3’s intrinsic ability to protect passengers in severe impacts.

Passenger safety is further improved by the use of up to eight airbags. The driver’s airbag is installed in the steering wheel boss and the front passenger airbag is in the facia. Two airbags in the front seats provide protection for the thorax.

There are two full-length curtain airbags fitted in the cant rails above the first and second rows of seats, offering side protection. Two additional side bags are fitted in the rearmost area, when seven seats are specified.