If you think trying to create one the world’s most capable yet family friendly off-roaders is child’s play, you may not be far from the truth.
Engineers and designers at Land Rover really did conscript their own children for their new seven-seater Discovery’s planning and testing stage, to see how it would cope with the likely hammering vehicles can get from active youngsters of primary school age.
That meant crawling over seats, slamming doors, fiddling with buttons, and generally letting them loose on the vehicle as it was under top-secret development.
So while over 28 months the new Disco coped admirably with testing from Land Rover’s global engineering team in extreme climates and terrains in over 20 countries — from sand-driving in the dunes of Dubai in temperatures exceeding 40C, ice-driving in sub-zero Sweden and high-altitude testing in the Colorado mountains — one of the key concerns was: will it survive the kids?
Here’s one we did earlier: Land Rover Discovery’s young testers with their camo design.
A Land Rover spokesman said: “The children were involved in creating the ultimate family SUV every step of the way.
“To create the world’s most capable family SUV you must first understand the needs of the world’s most capable families. That’s why Land Rover’s designers and engineers have been taking their work home with them.”
The spokesman added: “Throughout the thousands of hours of development that go into making an all-new Land Rover, there’s been a team of children testing, challenging and representing the needs of the modern family every day.
“The toughest thing of all has been keeping everything their mums and dads do a secret right up until the new car is revealed.”
Chief engineer for Land Rover Discovery Alex Heslop said: “There is no better insight into the needs of the modern family than the first-hand experience we glean at home.
“That’s why we have up to nine USB ports to charge everyone’s devices, why we’ve got space to hide four iPads away securely and why every seat has been designed to be the best seat in the house.”
As a “thank you” for their efforts, the sons and daughters of the engineers and designers who had played a part in child-proofing the new Discovery 4X4 were invited to create a colourful camouflage design for the car to hide its looks from prying eyes before it is officially unveiled on the eve of this month’s Paris Motor Show.
It will reach UK showrooms from early next year priced from about £48,000 ($NZ87,200) to £60,000 ($109,000). The children, aged from 5 to 9, duly set about drawing their favourite days out and, of course, signing their names by their work.
As well as being put through the child-proofing, the new Discovery has undergone 35,000 individual component tests using 294 development vehicles.
Land Rover said the new Discovery has a new remote control system that allows owners to configure their vehicle seating from afar via an app on their smart-phone in just 14 seconds. Adventurer Bear Grylls tested it in mid-air during a sky-diving parachute jump from 3600m.